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The Time Machine (1960 film)

The Time Machine
File:Brown,r time macine60.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
Directed by George Pal
Produced by George Pal
Screenplay by David Duncan
Based on The Time Machine
1895 novel 
by H. G. Wells
Starring Rod Taylor
Alan Young
Yvette Mimieux
Sebastian Cabot
Whit Bissell
Narrated by Rod Taylor
Music by Russell Garcia
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Edited by George Tomasini
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • August 17, 1960 (1960-08-17)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $829,000[1]
Box office $2,610,000[1]

The Time Machine – also known promotionally as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine – is a 1960 Metrocolor time travel science fiction film based on the 1895 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells in which a man from Victorian England constructs a time-travelling machine which he uses to travel to the future where a new civilisation has gone wrong after a nuclear war. The film stars Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux and Alan Young.

The film was produced and directed by George Pal, who had earlier made a film version of Wells' The War of the Worlds (1953). Pal always intended to make a sequel to The Time Machine, but he died before it could be produced; the end of Time Machine: The Journey Back functions as a sequel of sorts. In 1985, elements of this film were incorporated into The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, produced by Arnold Leibovit.

The film received an Oscar for time-lapse photographic effects showing the world changing rapidly.


On January 5, 1900, four friends arrive for a dinner at the house of H. George Wells (Rod Taylor), who staggers in to describe his strange experiences.

During an earlier dinner, on December 31, 1899, Wells had described time as "the fourth dimension" to David Filby (Alan Young), Dr. Philip Hillyer (Sebastian Cabot) and Walter Kemp (Whit Bissell). He had shown them at that earlier meeting a small prototype machine which he had claimed could travel in time and which disappeared when the miniature lever on it was pressed, thereby apparently demonstrating the success of the invention. The friends are dismissive, saying that it is preposterous, despite the model transporting a cigar through time.

Wells uses a larger time machine to travel 17 years into the future, to September 13, 1917, where he meets Filby's son James and learns of Filby's death in the Great War. Wells then travels to June 19, 1940, into the midst of "a new war", stopping briefly when his machine is buffeted from side to side. He stops on August 18, 1966, in a futuristic metropolis. He is puzzled to see people hurrying into a fallout shelter amid the blare of air raid sirens. An elderly James Filby tells him to get into the shelter. James, eventually recognising Wells, is surprised that Wells has not aged. A nuclear explosion causes a volcano to erupt. Civilisation is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. Wells restarts the machine just in time to avoid being incinerated, but lava surrounds the machine in time, then cools and hardens, forcing him to travel far into the future until it erodes away.

He stops the machine on October 12, AD 802 701, next to a low building with a large sphinx on top. He spots a woman drowning while others are indifferent. Wells rescues her, but is surprised by her lack of gratitude. She calls herself Weena (Yvette Mimieux) and her people the Eloi.

Wells questions the Eloi about their civilisation and finds they have no books save for some crumbling ones. He discovers that the time machine has been dragged into the sphinx building and locked inside. Weena follows Wells and insists they go back, for fear of "Morlocks" at night. A Morlock jumps out of the bushes and tries to drag Weena off, but Wells rescues her.

The next day, Weena shows Wells what appear to be domed well-like air-shafts in the ground. She then takes him to an ancient museum, where "talking rings" tell of a centuries-long nuclear war. One group of survivors remained underground in the shelters and evolved into the Morlocks after a radioactive explosion, while the other group returned to the surface and became the Eloi. Wells starts to climb down a shaft but turns back when a siren blares from atop the sphinx building. Weena and the rest of the Eloi enter a trance-like state, and they complacently file through the now-open doors of the building. When the siren stops, the doors close, trapping Weena and others inside.

To rescue Weena, Wells climbs down the air-shaft again and enters the subterranean caverns. He is horrified to discover that the Eloi are little more than free range livestock to the Morlocks. He fights the Morlocks, aided by the Eloi, who prove not to be completely helpless. Before escaping with the Eloi up the shaft, he starts a fire that spreads through the cavern. Under his direction, the Eloi drop dry tree branches into the shafts to feed the fire. The entire area caves in, crushing and suffocating most of the Morlocks below. The next morning, Wells finds the sphinx building in charred ruins and the doors open again, with his time machine sitting just inside the entrance. He enters to retrieve the machine, but the doors close behind him and he is attacked by the remaining Morlocks. He uses the time machine to escape, travelling to January 5, 1900, in time to meet his old friends for dinner and tell them about his adventure. Wells' friends scoff at his story, but he finds Weena's flower (a species nonexistent in the 19th century) in his coat pocket, which convinces Filby, an amateur botanist. Wells leaves again in the time machine back to the future. Filby notices tracks where Wells dragged the machine back to its original location before leaving so that he would be outside the sphinx building when he returns to the future. Filby and Wells' housekeeper notice three books are missing from Wells' library. They cannot be sure which three books they are.


Cast notes
  • Young and Mimieux are the only surviving primary cast members.

Home media releases

Released multiple times on videocassette, Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), and both letterbox and pan & scan LaserDisc. The film was released on DVD in October 2000 and on Blu-ray Disc in July 2014.


An original score CD was released in 1987. The tracklisting is as follows:

  1. Main Title / Credits
  2. London 1900 (Filby's Theme)
  3. Time Machine Model
  4. The Time Machine
  5. Quick Trip Into The Future
  6. All The Time In The World
  7. Beautiful Forest / The Great Hall
  8. Fear
  9. Weena (Love Theme)
  10. Rescue
  11. Reminiscing
  12. Morlocks
  13. End Title (Reprise)
  14. Fight With The Morlocks
  15. Time Traveler
  16. Escape
  17. Prayer / Off Again
  18. Trapped In The Future
  19. Love And Time Return
  20. End Title
  21. Atlantis, The Lost Continent (Overture) - Main Title / Credits / Love Theme / Night Scene / Submarine / End Title


George Pal was already known for pioneering work with animation. He was nominated for an Oscar almost yearly during the 1940s. Unable to sell Hollywood the screenplay, he found the British MGM studio (where he had filmed Tom Thumb) friendlier.

Pal originally considered casting a middle-aged British actor in the lead role, such as David Niven or James Mason. He later changed his mind and selected the younger Australian actor Rod Taylor to give the character a more athletic, idealistic dimension. It was Taylor's first lead role in a feature film.[3]

MGM art director Bill Ferrari created the Machine, a sled-like design with a big, rotating vertical wheel behind the seat. The live action scenes were filmed from May 25, 1959 to June 30, 1959, in Culver City, California.

Box Office

According to MGM records the film earned $1,610,000 in the United States and Canada and $1 million elsewhere, turning a profit of $245,000.[1]

It had admissions of 363,915 in France.[4]

Awards and honors

1993 sequel/documentary

In 1993, a combination sequel-documentary short, Time Machine: The Journey Back, directed by Clyde Lucas, was produced. In the third part, Michael J. Fox talks about his experience with Time Machines from Back to the Future. In the last part, written by original screenwriter David Duncan, Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Whit Bissell reprised their roles.

See also


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Vagg, Stephen, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010
  3. ^ Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010 p64
  4. ^ French box office for 1961 at Box Office Story

External links

Streaming audio

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