Film (1979). Orion/Warner Bros. Directed by Nicholas Meyer. Written by Meyer, from a story by Karl Alexander, Steve Hayes, based on Time After Time (1979) by Karl Alexander. Cast includes Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen and David Warner. 112 minutes. Colour.
Dr Stevenson (Warner), whom we soon learn to be Jack the Ripper, eludes police by stealing the Time Machine from H G Wells (McDowell) in 1893, and travelling to San Francisco in 1979 (see California). The machine, however, returns, and Wells uses it to pursue the criminal. There are some good moments in this ingenious movie, with Wells as the alien naïf amazed and baffled by the world of the future (which he had expected to be Utopian), though the mad, affectless Ripper finds its violence and sleaziness precisely to his taste. But the view, presented rather labouredly by the film, that 1979 is a period of unparalleled cruelty (and that Wells could not cope with it), is conceptually tawdry. Steenburgen is charming as Amy, the not-quite-liberated bank clerk who falls for Wells, though anybody knowing anything of Wells' real private life will be astonished to learn that he took Amy back to his own time and they lived happily ever after as Mr and Mrs Wells! [PN]
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