6.7/10
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Things to Come (1936)

Not Rated | | Drama, Sci-Fi, War | 14 September 1936 (UK)
The story of a century: a decades-long second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel.

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John Cabal / Oswald Cabal
Edward Chapman ...
Pippa Passworthy / Raymond Passworthy
...
The Boss
...
Roxana / Rowena (as Margueretta Scott)
...
Theotocopulos
Maurice Braddell ...
Dr. Harding
Sophie Stewart ...
Mrs. Cabal
...
Richard Gordon (as Derrick de Marney)
...
Mary Gordon
Pearl Argyle ...
Catherine Cabal
Kenneth Villiers ...
Maurice Passworthy
Ivan Brandt ...
Morden Mitani
Anne McLaren ...
The Child
Patricia Hilliard ...
Janet Gordon
...
Great Grandfather

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Storyline

A global war begins in 1940. This war drags out over many decades until most of the people still alive (mostly those born after the war started) do not even know who started it or why. Nothing is being manufactured at all any more and society has broken down into primitive localized communities. In 1966 a great plague wipes out most of what people are left but small numbers still survive. One day a strange aircraft lands at one of these communities and its pilot tells of an organization which is rebuilding civilization and slowly moving across the world re-civilizing these groups of survivors. Great reconstruction takes place over the next few decades and society is once again great and strong. The world's population is now living in underground cities. In the year 2035, on the eve of man's first flight to the moon, a popular uprising against progress (which some people claim has caused the wars of the past) gains support and becomes violent. Written by Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

H.G.Wells' "Things To Come" will astound the entire world! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Sci-Fi | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 September 1936 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Futura  »

Box Office

Budget:

£300,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (VHS) | (premiere cut) | (original) | (cut) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film drew huge audiences upon its opening in New York City. Advertisements for the film mentioned that large crowds continually flocked to New York's Rivoli Theatre from 9:30am on opening day until the ad went to press four days later. The initial interest in the film apparently wore off, as the film earned significantly less at the box office than the studio had expected. See more »

Goofs

Predating CGI the 3D title credits had to be built so we could see them rotate slightly as seen in the H.G. Wells credit. The title was also built but is misspelled 'THINCS TO COME'. What? They couldn't reuse the G they showed seconds earlier? See more »

Quotes

Roxana: I don't suppose any man has ever understood any woman since the beginning of things. You don't understand our imaginations.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits, as the title is revealed, the shadow over the letters is removed as if the clouds in the background are blowing past it. See more »

Connections

Featured in War Stories (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

The First Noel
(uncredited)
Traditional 18th Century Cornish Christmas Carol
Arranged by Arthur Bliss
Heard during opening montage.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Often Lyrical, Logical and Beautiful On its Own Terms; a Classic of Ideas
16 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

This early sci-fi masterwork by Herbert George Wells with music by Arthur Bliss is a powerful piece of film-making. Adapted from Wells' somewhat different work by the author, it presents a look at the human future with the subject of periods of war as versus periods of 'peace'. The structure is that after a contrasted-pair of episodes of normalcy and gathering clouds of war, the script allows the war to happen. Two families, the Cabells and the Passworthys disagree about what may happen; Passworthy takes a hopeful view of civilization's "automatic" progress; Cabell is the thinker, the doubter. Their city Everytown--obviously London-- becomes wrecked by a war featuring tanks, a magnificent war march by Bliss, and the end of civilization. The second portion finds people living in the wreckage of what had been the city under a "Boss", played with bravura by Ralph Richardson, whose woman, lovely Margaretta Scott, is as fascinating a dreamer as he is a concrete-bound dictator type. He is trying to rebuild old WWI airplanes so he can attack a nearby hill tribe to complete his petty kingdom; a young scientist complains about having his work continually interrupted demands for planes--etc.--everlastingly; this is Wells' comment on war versus progress. The survivors are subject to a plague called "The Wandering Sickness" also. Enter a modern flying machine piloted by the Cabell of the first section of the film, now part of Wings Over the World, an International Scientists' Coalition, who are planning to end warfare forever. This flight-suited modernist has fascinating conversations with the Boss and his woman, their attraction being evident; then Boss sends up his aircraft against them, the Scientists come with huge numbers of planes and drop the "Gas of Peace" onto the ruins of Everytown. Only the Boss dies, fighting too hard against the pacifying. The film then shows ore being mined and by slow steps being made into the girders of a magnificent new futuristic city of towers. In section three, a future Cabell argues with a future Passworthy over the morality of human science. Passworthy wonders if they have a right to send men to the Moon; Cabell champions man's right to advancement and the need to expand his horizons. The son of Passworthy and Cabell's daughter, are the astronauts being sent. Theotocopulos, a religious-minded Luddite, makes a fiery speech on a huge screen in the city's Forum and leads an attack on the 'space gun' that is to fire the new rocket free of Earth's gravity. The climax of the plot is the firing of the space gun successfully; the denouement and ending is a speech by Cabell praising worth and science that is universally considered to be the most profound defense of the mind ever penned. "It is all the universe--or nothing!" Cabell tells Passworthy. "Which shall it be?" As Cabell, Raymond Massey gives perhaps his greatest screen performance; he is thoughtful, compassionate, and reasonable, a true scientist. As the rabble-rouser who wants to end the Age of Science, Cedric Hardwicke is perfect and powerful. Edward Chapman playing Passworthy does admirably impersonating the voice of convention and fear. The storyline is logical, frequently beautiful and always interesting. Given the near-extinction of mankind, the idea of a civilization run by rebuilder scientists is rendered plausible and credible to the viewer. This is a triumph for the director, William Cameron Menzies, for Bliss and for all concerned. Listen to the dialogue with someone you love; within its constructed limits, this is a thinking man's drama debating two possible human futures--progress or its reactionary opposite.


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