DATELINE: Lost & Forgotten Gem!
Great Supporting Stars!
IB Melchior is hardly a name to be lumped in with the grand auteurs of long-ago: we think of Orson Welles, but there were others like William Cameron Menzies—and IB.
He wrote, directed, and produced, slipping into American International studios at the end, but keeping up high quality on a low-budget.
The Time Travelers is a joy to behold. Move over, Irwin Allen.
His sleeper is a take-off on The Time Machine and other sci-fi classics of the 1950s. With unusual intelligence, he put together a minor movie with a TV-generated cast of cast-offs: there’s an aging Preston Foster, off bad TV after a weak leading man life in the 1930s. He has a pointed imperial beard and wears an occasional monocle as the steady scientist behind a time travel machine.
There is Phil Carey, looking pauchy even at his peak of TV work as the assistant. You have white haired John Hoyt, taking his hair color cues from Brian Keith, as Varno, leader of a futuristic tribe of nuclear war survivors.
And there is Steve Franken, fresh off playing the Dobie Gillis nemesis, Chatsworth Osbourne, as the boyish (he was 34) foil. We never realized just how short he was.
Throw in a guest appearance from Forrest J. Ackerman, whose paranormal documentary by Paul Davids is The Life after Death Project. Here he suitably appears at the paranormal portal to the time warp.
The film features rovers on Saturn’s moon, Titan, discussions of exo-planets, and the kind of odd creatures that H.G. Wells was fond of using for troublesome survivors.
You might be surprised at how the effects work quite well in a simple manner before computer generated spectaculars. And, you do have real actors trying to keep a straight face.
It’s a wonderful little sci-fi classic that we dismissed back when—and suddenly have re-considered in old age as something a bit more special. If you love time warps and seeing a movie speed up and recap in one minute, you are in for a treat.