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time-after-time

TIME AFTER TIME (1979) - PG

This tense thriller adventure time-travel yarn begins in 1890's London, with H.G. Wells inviting his friends over to see his new invention, a time travel machine. One friend, John Leslie Stevenson  who was revealed as Jack the Ripper, is on the run from the police and steals H.G. Wells operational time machine. When the machine comes back, young H.G. pursues him through time, landing in 1979 San Francisco, in hot pursuit, in order to try to stop him, before he kills again.

This film could be compared to "The Time Machine". TIME AFTER TIME features romance, action, and great use of the San Francisco locations. Malcom McDowell and Mary Steenburgen have great chemistry, as the lovers from different times. David Warner is very spooky as Jack the Ripper. A highlight is McDowell's first trip to a fast food restaurant.

The cast includes: Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen, Joseph Maher, Patti D'Arbanville, and Charles Cioffi.

Directed by Nicholas Meyer.

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SYNOPSIS...

Following another grisly murder in 1890, London, Jack the Ripper uses H.G. Wells time machine to escape. When the machine automatically returns to the past, Wells takes it to 1979, San Francisco, in pursuit of the evil Jack.

In modern day San Francisco, Wells has fun encountering the modern world. He also meets and falls in love with a pretty bank teller, a very modern woman. In the meantime, Jack is killing women in the city by the bay.

In a showdown between Jack and Wells, Jack escapes in the time machine, but Wells removes the key, sending a screaming Jack through time and space, without benefit of the time machine. The bank teller decides to travel back in time to 1890, London, with Wells.

REVIEW...

Writer/Director Nicholas Meyer's, TIME AFTER TIME, is one of the true class acts of the time travel sub-genre, a worthy successor, (though more adult in theme), to George Pal's well regarded classic, "The Time Machine".

The film opens, in 1890's, London, with images (Big Ben), and Music (by Miklos Rozza) appropriately reminiscent of the old Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes movies. Almost immediately, we are there as Jack the Ripper, (David Warner), kills a prostitute in a chilling fashion.

Shortly after Jack, whose real name is Dr. John L. Stevenson, joins a dinner party at the home of young H.G. Wells, (a perfectly cast Malcom McDowell), who's about to show his friends his new invention: a time machine. Faster than you can say time paradox, the cops show up, hot on the trail of Jack/John, who escapes to the future in Wells' time machine.

The bulk of the movie takes place, in 1979, San Francisco, which is where Jack/John has ended up, and where Wells' pursuit takes him. When Jack/John goes on a killing spree of woman, in San Francisco, Wells' is determined to stop him.

While a lot of the film is serious, there's plenty of lighter moments as well. Watching the Victorian Wells, (McDowell), encounter modern society is delightful. During a great McDonalds scene, Wells rubs a shiny red plastic table, then remarks to a fellow patron: "I've never seen wood like this." This is my favorite scene in the film.

Many great films have a love story, and TIME AFTER TIME is no exception. Mary Steenburgen/,Amy Robbins, is a modern, liberated lady who Wells meets on the path of Jack/John. With her white complexion and cascading ringlets of black hair, Steenburgen looks like she's from another era, and makes a perfect match for young H.G., allowing Wells, (and the viewer), to experience "free love", late 1970's style.

The film builds to a great conclusion, which I will not reveal out of respect for the viewer.

Strangely enough, for a movie about time travel, the Special Effects aren't so special, particularly during an early scene where Wells travels from his time, to 1974; but the film's story, pacing, stars, and music more than make up for this strange deficiency. TIME AFTER TIME is a good time indeed, and should be highly watchable for most Sci-Fi fans.

BEST BETS: THE TIME MACHINE and BACK TO THE FUTURE.