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Time Flies (1944)

A minor music hall star uses a professor's time machine to travel back to the Elizabethan era.



(original screenplay), (original screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Tommy Handley ...
Evelyn Dall ...
George Moon ...
The Professor
Graham Moffatt ...
His Nephew
John Salew ...
Olga Lindo ...
Roy Emerton ...
Capt. John Smith
Iris Lang ...
Princess Pocohontas
Stéphane Grappelli ...
A Troubadour (as Stephane Grappelly)


A minor music hall star uses a professor's time machine to travel back to the Elizabethan era.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Sci-Fi


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Release Date:

8 May 1944 (UK)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(BAF Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This little-known movie seems to be the first feature film to include a time machine. It was released the same year as While Nero Fiddled (1944) - another small British comedy about time travel. See more »


When Tommy is ordered to stand for Captain Raleigh he is so startled that, as he stands, he drops the chicken leg he is eating. It clearly misses the table and must surely have landed on the floor. Yet, in the next shot which is made out to be in real time, as Tommy cheekily sits back down - the chicken leg is already back in his hand without him having picked it up off the floor. See more »


Queen Elizabeth: Thou dost *own* the Americas?
Tommy: All the Stars and most of the Stripes.
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References Things to Come (1936) See more »


Big Chief Tom-Tom
Written by Noel Gay and Ted Kavanagh (uncredited)
Performed by Tommy Handley
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User Reviews

Handley's film
27 October 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is an amusing film, with a surprisingly early use of the concept of a time machine (Hungary's Sziriusz, from 1942, predates it), invented by professorial Felix Aylmer and crookedly financed by lovable scoundrel Tommy Handley. Thanks to a chapter of accidents, they go back in time to the sixteenth century, together with a vaudeville double act, the excellent Evelyn Dall and quite good George Moon. Presumably they hoped the film would get a US audience, as the modern-day bookends are set in a New York made of cardboard, all the money is in dollars and all the Elizabethan characters are carefully explained by Moon reading out of an encyclopedia.

Between them they give Shakespeare the lines for Romeo and Juliet's balcony scene, teach Elizabeth I how to play Find the Lady, introduce Stephane Grapelli's troubadour to jazz, and give Sir Walter Raleigh his first smoke. Tommy can't stop himself swindling people, and sells America off to the English nobility, much to the chagrin of Captain John Smith. Smith is accompanied by a statuesque and politically incorrect Pocahontas (the virtually unknown Iris Lang in a wonderful performance), who is surprisingly able to drink everyone under the table. Moore Marriott appears fleetingly in a pillory, and there is a bit more of Graham Moffatt, in their last film together.

It is a surprise to realise that Handley made so few films. As a radio comic, his trademark was idiotic double talk and lame puns strung together almost too quickly for the audience to groan. His screen time is always confident and he is obviously the star. He even dominates the opening scene from behind a curtain. It's That Man Again brilliantly realised the surreal radio series ITMA for the screen, and Time Flies, released a year later, might easily have led to a film career, but this was his last full-length picture.

The humour is of course of its time - if you don't like the highly verbal wordplay popularised by British wartime radio, then you won't like Handley's scenes very much. But Handley almost matches Will Hay in his creation of a wily, despicable, cowardly, cheating and yet wholly likable petty crook, played without the remotest hint of sentimentality.

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