Time After Time (1979)
November 22, 2015 10:53 PM - Subscribe

H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to the 20th Century when the serial murderer uses the future writer's time machine to escape his time period.

Janet Maslin's 1979 review (NYT):
"TIME AFTER TIME" is every bit as magical as the trick around which it revolves. Let us say — or let Nicholas Meyer, who wrote and directed the film, say — that in the year 1893, a very special dinner party is being given by H.G. Wells. He plans to announce that a Time Machine, which looks rather like a rococo jukebox, has been constructed, and to demonstrate how his invention works. He won't actually use the thing — too timid for that, he admits, while showing his friends how to operate the controls. But one of these friends has been moonlighting as Jack the Ripper, and will soon be needing to make a fast getaway from Wells's home — in fact, from Wells's century! What choice will Wells have but to follow? Ah!

The rest of the film is set in November 1979 — and by then, "Time After Time" will have won plenty of accolades and tickled a lot of fancies. Mr. Meyer isn't a particularly skilled director; this is his first attempt, and on occasion it's very clumsy. But as a whizkid he's gone straight to the head of the class, with a movie that's as sweet as it is clever, and never so clever that it forgets to be entertaining. The satisfactions "Time After Time" offers are perhaps no more sophisticated than the fun one might have with an intricate set of electric trains. Still, fun of this sort isn't always easy to come by, not after one's age has climbed up into two digits. There's a lot to be said for an adult's movie with the shimmer of a child's new toy.
Nicholas Meyer went on to direct two Star Trek movies, Sommersby, and made-for-TV's Houdini (also on FanFare).

Time After Time film trailer

Jack the Ripper: We don't belong here? On the contrary, Herbert. I belong here completely and utterly. I'm home.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (10 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is one of my favorite movies. David Warner as Jack the Ripper....so wonderful.

"Herbert, I'm practically raping you."
posted by miss-lapin at 3:53 AM on November 23, 2015

Oh hey, one of my favorites. I rewatched it about two years ago and it doesn't quite hold up but it's still a good watch. Meyers plagiarized himself a bit with his screenplay for Star Trek three, another time travel movie set in SF.

I had such a crush on Mary Steenburgen after this and Melvin and Howard.
posted by octothorpe at 4:25 AM on November 23, 2015

I loved this movie - partly because I also had a huge crush on Mary Steenburgen. :)
posted by rmd1023 at 5:42 AM on November 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

She was one of the only bright spots in the otherwise horrible Walk in the Woods from this summer.

If you like this movie, it's worth checking out The Seven Percent Solution that Meyers wrote but didn't direct. It's another fictional meeting between literary and historic figures, this time Sherlock Holmes and Freud.
posted by octothorpe at 6:23 AM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Aw man, I remember watching this on HBO (or Cinemax?) in the early '80s and it scared the shite out of me! Was always one of my faves. Just rewatched a couple of years ago, of course, some of it does not hold up, but other parts were still just as scary.
posted by foxhat10 at 9:19 AM on November 23, 2015

My favorite Mary Steenburgen time travel movie.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:02 PM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

If you get a chance, watch this movie with the audio commentary. It will give you the feels. It features Nicholas Meyer and Malcolm McDowell, the latter of whose contribution could be effectively summarized as "I cannot believe I screwed things up with Mary Steenburgen she is so amazing oh man I think I still really miss her."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:31 PM on November 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have fond memories of this movie, but haven't seen it in forever. I'm not surprised to hear it hasn't entirely held up.

However I am surprised to see that, as recently as 1979, people still had no idea how to make a damn movie trailer. Good lord is that awkward.
posted by Naberius at 6:34 PM on November 23, 2015

This was one of my favorite movies as a kid, especially the terrifying scene at the end where he goes into the far future. Haven't watched recently (or read the book recently) but I remember that as being very like that part of the novel.
posted by betsybetsy at 7:45 PM on November 23, 2015

Meyer is a strange case. He had a very good run, with this and Star Trek II and IV, he was well on his way to being geek royalty. But then he just seemed to stop making fun and memorable sci-fi movies and went into making more mainstream stuff that nobody remembers now. I don't know what happened there.

There is something so idiosyncratic and alive about this movie. There used to be a radio show in LA called Hour 25, which was a bunch of geeks talking about sci-fi stuff for hours and hours on Friday night. Fun stuff. The host used to sign off with a quote from this movie: "Every age is the same... it's only love that makes any of them bearable." He probably said it a thousand times, but somehow it never lost its power. It's that kind of line.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:48 AM on November 24, 2015 [2 favorites]

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