Friday, 23 August 2013

"Time After Time" (1979 film) When H.G. Wells Meets Jack the Ripper

Don't you love 'time travel' movies?
What about the meeting of two famous or fictional characters? Take Nicholas Meyer's "The Seven Per Cent Solution" (1976) when Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud? How about a film that combines the two ideas?

Three years later Nicholas Meyer (mainly known for directing 3 early "Star Trek" films) made "Time After Time". Sci fi author H.G.Wells follows Jack the Ripper to present day San Francisco. This movie is delicious fun.
The time machine looks quite different to George Pal's 1960 version of "The Time Machine". Looks more like a helicopter cabin. The special effects reflect the meagre budget. Apparently director Meyer insisted on veteran Miklos Rozsa to compose the musical score. it's very overwrought and 40's syrupy but beautiful to listen to. The disco scenes in San Francisco, with lots of vile suits and polyester shorts are quite jarring, but I'm quibbling.
Meyer originally wanted Derek Jacobi as H. G. and Mick Jagger as Jack. Wow. A shame.
They settled on Malcolm McDowell as Wells and David Warner for the ripper, who was later typecast as baddies in fantasy films - "Tron" (1982), "The Golden Child" (1986).
Mary Steenburgen is great at H.G.'s love interest. She is sort of channelling Cyndi Lauper - Queens accent - but still cute as a button. McDowell and Steenburgen met on set and were married from 1980-1990.
The final explanation of H.G.'s real fate and personal life is quite touching (no spoilers from me here).
Update: Nicholas Meyer wrote the biopic two parter "Houdini" for The History Channel in 2014. Adrien Brody came out of this cheesy opus unscathed.

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