While browsing Netflix for my Saturday evening entertainment, I came across an old movie—which evokes another one of those “You know you’re getting old when . . .” moments, as in, “You know you’re getting old when you start referring to movies made after you were born as ‘old movies.’”
But I digress. The movie in question, made in 1979, is titled Time After Time, a sort of sci-fi fantasy featuring actual historical figures, to wit H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper, in which the former chases the latter from Queen Victoria's London to Mayor Feinstein’s San Francisco via time machine.
I remembered seeing this movie once before, not long after it first came out, so it’s been about 30 years. I recalled enjoying it, as it had a rather fascinating premise, so I decided to watch it again.
Perhaps it’s because I was so young, and therefore unenlightened and uninformed upon my first viewing, that at the time I didn’t grasp the protagonist’s fixation with achieving socialist utopia. I did this time. And I must say, it made for a more enriching, albeit disappointing cinematic experience, as you will see.
For in 1889 London Town, H.G. Wells clings, like a bitter redneck with his guns and his God (little did I know how significant this bad simile would turn out to be), to the idea of a socialist utopia that he’s certain looms, like the promise of a rising sun, only three generations away. Over brandy and cigars with his friends, he holds forth on this prescient dream of Hope and Change, and of free love with none of the punishing consequences like babies and AIDS.
While showing his friends his newfangled time machine, with all the pride of a modern day Joe Sixpack showing off his new boat or his new truck or his new big screen TV, Scotland Yard comes knocking with bobbies in tow, and without even a warrant, they insist on searching the house because Jack the Ripper is believed to be in the vicinity. In the ensuing chaos, one of H.G.’s friends goes missing and he quickly ascertains two things: (a) his missing friend is Jack the Ripper, and (b) Jack jumped into the time machine to escape warrantless justice.
H.G. is horrified at the notion that Jack has moved forward in time to put a bloody taint on the Glorious World of Next Tuesday. So he, too, jumps into the time machine to go after him. (Please don’t ask me to explain how he did this when Jack had already used it; just pretend this is a 2,000 page piece of legislation and I’m your Congressman, so trust me when I say you needn’t worry about the details, because as the American people, you’re just not interested; Obama himself said so at his health summit the other day.)
H.G. Wells ends up in 1979 San Francisco, and here’s where I started having problems with the movie—problems I didn’t have when I first saw it thirty years ago. Is San Francisco not the ultimate Utopian city, comrades? What all cities should aspire to be?
And yet, our hero is dismayed to find banks on nearly every street corner. I didn’t know this about San Francisco. Bathhouses, yes, but banks? Comrades, The City By The Bay is portrayed—no, BETRAYED*—as a bastion of capitalism and greed! They may as well have filmed it in Houston.
It gets worse. Nightfall arrives, and he wanders into a church where he—he—oh, choke—he actually talks to—oh, I can barely type it. What the bitter clingers cling to! No, not a gun, the other thing. God. He talks to God. And he even says, “I don’t believe in you, God,” yet here he is talking to someone he doesn’t believe in, asking for help and guidance, or at least permission to seek medieval-style sanctuary just for one night. I’d love to know what those two atheists on the Public Access channel late at night would make of this.
I was so disappointed in our hero, but on the upside, I was heartened by the realistic portrayal of the priest who came along and ran him out of there. Those religious hypocrites. They’re always after you to come into their church, come to church, come to church, why don’t you come to church, so here someone comes into church and what happens? He gets tossed out on his butt and then he’s forced to spend the night shivering on a park bench.
And this story takes place BEFORE Reagan took office. I tell you, nothing annoys me more than historical inaccuracies. The idea that this sort of thing would happen during the Carter Administration! And under Dianne Feinstein’s mayoralty!
Over the course of the movie, H.G. Wells endures the usual future shock, and has misadventures similar to those of the Enterprise crew in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, only without the whales or little old ladies growing new kidneys. As it happens, Time After Time is directed by the same guy who collaborated on the screenplay for Star Trek IV, so it seems he doesn’t just recycle paper and plastics. Indeed, he’s a true Progressive, using the same idea over and over again, simply repackaging and renaming it each time in the conviction that at least half the masses will marvel over it as something new, a novelty to be seized and delighted in as a child is distracted by a bright and shiny toy. (I know I used to get excited over every new incarnation of Barbie—Talking Barbie, Malibu Barbie, Twist-n-Turn Barbie—but I digress again.)
And just like in Star Trek IV, there is the lonely pathetic spinster with nothing, not even a cat or twelve new books every month from Harlequin Romance, to keep her in her own time. In this case, it’s Mary Steenburgen, who looks like Japanese kabuki, that or she’s dying of anemia. She looked like The Mime. At least Catherine Hicks could act and even do some Mime tricks.
But even if our hero H.G. Wells is utterly disenchanted by the absence of Utopia he’d been so certain to find, he’s still delighted to know that free love, at least, has already taken society into its wide open embrace. And he finds it with Mary.
Meanwhile, he discovers that Jack the Ripper is still doing his thing in modern day Frisco. H.G. convinces Mary of his true identity by showing her the time machine and taking her forward just a few days, where they emerge to learn from a newspaper published those few days hence that she is the Ripper’s next victim.
They go back several days earlier where they started, resolved to change the future (are you paying attention, Colonel 7.62?) and save not only Mary’s life, but that of another woman who’s also a Ripper victim in that short time frame. Then Mary suggests the unthinkable: She actually talks of going to a sporting goods store to--can you believe this? To buy a gun.
But H.G. Wells will not hear of it. He has come to the future, only to be flabbergasted by the war and violence that still remains in society, and he’s damned if he’ll lower himself to its level and become a part of that violence himself. No, no guns, for that is not the way in the social utopia H.G. staunchly believes is still possible. (Oh, I was so ready to bear, or at least conceive his children upon hearing that impassioned declaration.) Let us try to understand the Ripper. Let us talk to him, maybe knock back a few beers with him in the Rose Garden, and then he’ll realize he’s been acting stupidly and we shall have peace in our time.
Alas, due to some mishaps involving a flat tire and an out-of-order phone booth—lest any of you rightwing skeptics think appeasement wouldn’t have worked anyway—they are too late to save the other woman who’s destined to be killed before Mary.
And here’s where our hero pissed me off even more than he did when he went into the church—NOW he decides to run out and get a gun! What happened to understanding, and dialogue?
Do you comrades see what happened here? H.G. Wells, renowned socialist and free love advocate, becomes the aforementioned bitter clinger! Clinging first to God and then to a gun in those darkest moments when it seemed all was lost! Why the hell didn’t he turn to the government, when the President at that time was none other than JIMMY CARTER?!?
I was outraged, and would’ve stormed out to the front box office to throw popcorn in the cashier’s face and demand my money back, except I was in my dacha and this was Netflix.
By the way, the special effects in this movie were closer to Ed Wood than Industrial Light & Magic—and post-Star Wars, too!
*I also write movie reviews and ad copy for Moveon.org.
Here's Cyndi on the dulcimer with Sarah. It's a great tune.
The album's second single was the ballad "Time After Time". Lauper co-wrote "Time After Time" with Rob Hyman when her producer, Rick Chertoff, suggested to the band that the album could use one more song. The record label did not have much faith in Lauper as a songwriter, but they gave her the chance to prove herself. "Time After Time" hit #1 on both Billboard's Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. It earned Lauper her second million-selling 'Gold' 45 and was one of the biggest hits of 1984. It has been covered by more than 100 artists. Lauper came up with the title for "Time After Time" while reading TV Guide—Time After Time was a 1979 science fiction movie starring Malcolm McDowell as H. G. Wells, portraying him inventing and then traveling in a time machine
H.G. Wells was a Utopian socialist and those were his beliefs. He was probably the first advocate of "free love" and San Francisco....well...where else?
It's not that bad of a flick...for 1979.
Quote:Alas, due to some mishaps involving a flat tire
Was it an orange '69 Charger, decorated with a confederate flag, and the number 01 on the doors? That would certainly help explain his sudden, reckless interest in GUNS (shudder).
The Title says: A Night at The Movies with Commissarka Pinkie, and that's just what I was Hoping™ to win when I clicked to fill out my raffle ticket, but low and behold it seems this is just another ruse to Rock The Vote and to take it further I have to actually read a MOVIE REVIEW? Is this like reading the ballot and issues BEFORE I vote? Dammit I just wanted to win the quick date!!!!
I am shattered, my fowl heart is lost forever.
All I got for my trouble was a greasie spot on the screen.
Maybe if I drink lots of vodka and just stare at it for hours.
But Czar Czar gets it! We cannot allow the portrayal of dedicated socialists resorting to right wing tactics as some deus ex machina cop out. We must show that such tactics do not and cannot work! We must be able to show that Progressive values can and will triumph over even the vilest evil!
We just have to figure out how, but in the meantime, we can raise awareness of the need to do so! Yes! That will be my new cause, comrades!
LET US RAISE AWARENESS OF THE NEED TO SHOW THAT PROGRESSIVE POLICIES CAN AND WILL SOLVE ANY AND ALL PROBLEMS!
There, I've done my part to show how much I care about this vital issue, now what about the rest of you?
I liked it!
Upon further thought, maybe it was Lina's hat that got in the way when Rooster and I were at the movies. Or maybe she was there with Bruno, sitting in front of us, and Rooster started pecking at Bruno's hat because he wouldn't comply with the request on the screen, "Ladies, kindly remove your hats"--possibly because Bruno didn't consider himself a lady.
But Rooster's incessant pecking caused the fruit to tumble from Bruno's head into Lina's cleavage, resulting in a lot of shrill, high-pitched squawking.
I just don't know whether it was Rooster, Lina, or Bruno who did the squawking. Quite possibly it was all three.
Honestly Pinkie I think your over reacting to this movie, just let it slide girl. So its some right wing propeganda, but its also right wing propeganda from the 1970's this is the present (or the future, I am not sure how the whole wormhole thing translates into the people's blog at this point) there are modern issues to fight over.
When I take all these things into consideration, I feel so helpless. So hopeless. As if I have no voice anymore, as if I'm being drowned out by the shrill, hateful screams and insane rage of the right.
People are dying, Cthulhu! People are dying by the millions every day because the Right has wrested control of the debate! Because of them, millions are dying, the planet is getting hotter, melting the ice caps and turning them into freezing precipitation that's battering the Eastern Seaboard, while earthquakes are devastating the planet and knocking it off its axis because of TOO MUCH DRILLING FOR OIL, and you sit there and tell me I'm OVERREACTING?
I'm not overreacting, I'm only raising awareness of how much I care about these things! And no one cares as much as I do, Cthulhu! Certainly not you! You don't care at all, you--you--why, I think you're one of them! I have a good mind to whack you with my shovel!
I did that because I care, Cthulhu. I care enough to do whatever it takes to make you see the light. Do you see the light now? Starry flashes bursting all around your head, perhaps?
Now, go to the ER for that dent I just put in your head--and if they turn you away because you don't have insurance, then you can become one of many poster children for Obamacare! You can be part of the solution, instead of the problem! And you will be glad that I cared enough to help you there!
I've been waiting for the righty blogs to pick up on this, but have yet to see anything.
Standby to cheer as he realizes the error of his ways in the gaping "dog eat dog" jaws of capitalism. Or maybe some greedy Jew banker will swindle him out of his ill gotten wealth.
As for the constant attack now from the right, it does seem to be getting louder and louder. They must be muzzled. They are more obnoxious that those Hare Krishnas years ago in the airports.
I suppose we just need to shout out the Current Truth more loudly in return, but I do get weary telling people over and over again things like: Don't get the weather mixed up with climate, we have a planet to save, it's Bush's fault, etc. Sometimes I feel like have to cram my face with three packages of perky jerky, just to keep up with the energy of these Rethuglicans. Do they ever just lay back and chill? Pu-lease.
I just hope they don't get wise and turn the tables on us this time around. After all, they do have the guns and know how to use them. I'm afraid that promoting gun control only served to disarm us. DOH!