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From Edgar G. Ulmer (director of `The Man from Planet X' and `The Amazing
Transparent Man') comes this likable little sc-fi tale. A test pilot
(Robert Clark) is catapulted into the future by a freak phenomenon, where a
post World War III society lives in futuristic cities that protect them from
the lingering radiation. However, the populace is having fertility
problems, and the head of the government (Vladimir Sokoloff) hopes that his
daughter (gorgeous Darlene Thompkins) and Clark will get together.
The costumes will meet with male approval; the women all wear short dresses and high heels (if you like it, guys, check out `World Without End').
Okay, back to the plot: a group of dissidents conspire to take over the government by releasing a horde of imprisoned mutants. They do, and the first thing the mutants do is attack all the women. Girls, be forewarned: if you dress provocatively, you'll suffer the consequences, especially if imprisoned mutants get loose.
Hats off to Ulmer for efficiency: he filmed this enjoyable effort in a matter of weeks, and he saved money on sets by using an exhibit of futuristic art-and-design at the 1959 Texas State Fair in Dallas. The interior architecture is appealing, despite being relatively simple. The doors, walls, and pillars are all based on triangles and pyramids. Don't' expect any elaborate special effects, but the film does manage to invoke a pleasant Buck Rogers feeling.
Unfortunately, I've never seen this movie shown on local or cable TV, and it doesn't seem to be avail on VHS or DVD. Dedicated sci-fi fans will have to work to get a peek at this lost gem. But it's worth the effort if you're a 1950s sci-fi fan.
Beyond the Time Barrier is an old-fashioned science fiction film made in 1960 that has the look and feel of a science fiction serial. It has some obvious flaws, most of which spring from its low budget. The special effects are woefully un-special. The sets are cheap-looking as are the costumes and any make-up used. Acting is mediocre at best with a few actors doing reasonable work. Darlene Tompkins is a lovely actress and does a pretty good job in her role as a deaf princess. Robert Clarke should be nicknamed Robert "Stonewall" Clarke for his stone-like performance. His performance isn't wooden, it's petrified. Nonetheless he is fun to watch. Boyd "Red" Morgan is, on the other hand, painfully bad a a captain(earlier referred to as a major?). The film tells a very complex story about Clarke leaving the year 1960 and crossing a time barrier and reaching the year 2024 where plague and pestilence are common. The human race has divided into factions of mutants and non-mutants(really people in the very first stages of being mutants). I found the story quite interesting despite not really believing the scientific aspects behind it. Sure the film is talky, but that was okay with me as I liked the story. The film was directed by Edgar Ulmer and it has some wonderful Ulmer moments. I particularly liked the way the mutants were locked up...a well-shot scene. Also, the climatic fight scenes were very good too. Ulmer uses a triangle of another scene interspersing into the already existing shot quite often as well for a neat little effect. An interesting science fiction film with a message.
I have always been fascinated by the philosophical aspects of space and
time, for example, such as the possibility of time dilation. That is
why movies such as "The Time Machine", "World Without End" (especially,
"World Without End" being one of my all-time favorite SF films), and
this one, "Beyond the Time Barrier" have a great deal of appeal.
The highlights of the film and worth far more than the price of admission are the scenes in which Robert Clarke first breaks the time barrier up in space (in physics, this sounds like what is currently referred to as a "wormhole" in contrast to the older concept of time dilation) and the scenes after he touches back down to earth. The scene in which Robert Clarke observes the exterior of the futuristic city along with the pulsating solar energy tower is fascinating. (I first saw this when I was ten years old and never forgot it.) Also the scenes of Darlene Tomkins are also a delight for the eyes (especially the swimming pool scene - I never forgot this either). I also liked the triangular designs. They looked almost out of Die Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) Gruppe - the Munich Art School that specialized in abstract expressionism (producing such greats such as Klee, Marc, Kandinsky, others) or, perhaps out of the Bauhaus School of Architecture which produced such greats such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and others who pioneered modern futuristic design. For this, the art designer for the movie, Ernst Fegte should take a bow.
However, the overall plot is somewhat disappointing after Robert Clarke is captured. The idea that the human race can bring the earth to such a state in which it is perilous to walk the actual surface of the earth due to excessive radiation because the protective atmospheric screens had been decimated (the ozone layer in the stratosphere, for example) seems very dreary indeed (The scientist played by Istvan Bekassy mentions the ionosphere being contaminated by nuclear particles). Furthermore, what happened to the various animal and plant species ? Were they decimated, too ? Perhaps the writers could have planned a less dismal story. As the story progresses, the plot becomes even more pessimistic with the sterility of the population, the evil scientists, the barbarity of the mutants, the almost complete resignation to the eventual extinction of the human race as voiced by the Supreme, Vladimir Sokoloff, and the murder in the final reel of Trirene, his daughter, played by Darlene Tomkins. In general, the writers could have done a lot better, in terms of plot, theme, and characters.
Not the best, not the worst.
Worth watching for the art design and certain aspects of the story which make a person think.
A prelude to a couple of television's original Outer Limit episodes, BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER for all its low-budget, fake looking special effects, subpar acting performances, comes across as an attempt at serious sci fi with elevated concepts and a flare for an fascinating effort of futuristic set design. The consistency of plot and the elements of both substantive sci fi drama, emotive relational interactions make this movie an above average depiction of a future world that would be replicated and copied by future sci fi movies, PLANET OF THE APES (1968), eight years later, and eerily BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970). The same year that BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER was released THE TIME MACHINE came out that also had a similar theme and has since become a classic. Unfortunately for BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER, it is apparent that lack of serious support, directorial, budget, or time prohibited this movie from having a real chance at a much more compelling and credible depiction of the future. The storyline, the scientific rationalization, and even the more rounded and developed characters held out hope that this movie might have be a solid and memorable sci fi classic. Nevertheless, it failed to realize its potential.
Here we go again! Major William Allison (Robert Clarke), our reluctant hero (Is there any other kind in this type of cinema?), has reached the speed of light in his sonic-busting jet, shattered it, and has found himself on the other side of the time barrier. No small feat. But when he returns to his home base of operations, he finds it lifeless and ravaged by time. Little would he know how ravaged and by how much time. Also, as he will later find out, a victim of a nuclear conflict. Whew! That's a lot to swallow in one afternoon. Major Allison has definitely seen better days. He is then zapped by a paralyzing ray (a lavish matte shot) emanating from a futuristic metropolis and nestled next to a city in smithereens. Major Allison now finds himself hauled off--against his will--to an underground lodging facility. The Citadel, as the locals refer to it, is inhabited by a race of humans cowering in fear from the radiation scarred mutants living above. The city has a triangle motif everywhere: doorways, hallways, video screens, etc. Labeled a "'scape," an outsider, by both the mutants and tunnel dwellers, Allison finds solace and comfort in the arms of the super lovely Darlene Thomkins. She plays a deaf mute who remains the only fertile female within screaming distance. Or so says her father, "The Supreme." We know where this is going--don't we? Allison meets several other "'scapes," scientists from his future, who have other ideas on how he should spend his time: less time with the horny chick and more time seeking a return to his own time. Scientists are never any fun. In the end, the film is a cautionary tale against the arms race. I think it works well enough to be called a minor classic. If not--the mute female in the short skirt should suffice. For now.
Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
** (out of 4)
Sci-fi has a military test pilot (Robert Clarke) goes into flight during 1960 and moments later he lands his spaceship in a strange land. After walking around for a bit he's finally taken captive by a group of people who don't make much sense to him but before long he realizes that his little trip actually sent him through a time barrier and he landed sixty-four years after taking off. The world has been destroyed due to a plague so he tries to get back in time to prevent it. This is an ultra low-budget movie that has a few ideas going for it but unfortunately there's not too much that can be done in regards to the science fiction because the budget didn't allow for it. The "future" city looks just like any abandoned city of 1960 and there special effects just aren't all that convincing. Fans of Edgar G. Ulmer will probably say that his keen eye manages to take the low budget and do more with it than most would. I'll buy that to a certain level but there's still no question that the majority of the film is dialogue scenes that really just talk about stuff instead of us ever actually getting to see it. I thought Clarke was good in his leading role as the pilot turned hero. Clarke is always fun to see in these low-budget movies and he does a nice job with the part. Darlene Tompkins plays the love interest, a princess in the future and she too is good. Vladimir Sokoloff plays "The Supreme" and isn't too bad. Universal horror fans will be happy to see Jack Pearce's name pop up in the credits for the special effects. There's talk of mutants in the film but sadly those hoping to see the make-up legends work on them will be disappointed because they're just normal people in bald caps. Pearce does get to do a little make-up at the end but I won't reveal with what as it will give away a major plot twist. This twist is actually pretty good and I think the final five-minutes are actually quite effective.
Time travel is a subject which has been addressed occasionally in films
varying degrees of success. For the most part these adventures usually
entail journeying into Earth's imminent future and can provide an
interesting basis for speculation of what might be in store for humanity.
Probably the best cinematic examples of this brand of storytelling are
George Pal's THE TIME MACHINE (1960) and Franklin J. Schaffner's PLANET OF
THE APES (1968).
With such an engaging title as BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER and the promising premise of an intrepid jet pilot traversing through the stratosphere with his supersonic aircraft into the far-flung future (2024) one would expect to be in store for quite an experience. However this film offers very little that is new from previous efforts like Edward Bernds's WORLD WITHOUT END (1956) and fails to be particularly memorable or provide any genuine excitement.
This film's main weakness is its thin story line (the pilot soars into the future, is briefly taken prisoner by the existing society there and eventually escapes back to the present circa 1960) coupled with some ideas which have potential that is never successfully realized. Considering how dialogue heavy this movie is it has a strange inarticulate quality. Vague characters are introduced (a trio of captive scientists designated as "escapes" from Earth colonies on neighbouring planets who also accidentally travelled through time and miraculously ended up in the precise same era as the jet pilot) but the amount of exposition required to explain exactly who they are, where they came from and their role in this society of tomorrow renders them virtually incoherent to the viewer.
When the jet pilot resolves to return to the present (to warn the authorities about the cosmic radiation plague which will ravage the Earth of 1971 due to a depletion of the planet's protective atmospheric layers eroded by constant atomic weaponry testing) in traversing the time warp a second time he physically accelerates into an aged infirm yet he is still able to safely land his craft and recount his experience. While the sight of our now withered and wrinkled hero has some shock value it really serves no purpose since the pilot's mind remains unimpaired and he is able to alert his superiors at the air base hospital of the impending calamity that awaits mankind. Had he been unable to do so it would have effectively given some tragic irony to the story.
The film's one bright moment occurs when the pilot (after penetrating the barrier of time) touches down his craft at the site of his former air base and explores the now bleak and desolate landscape only to find everything in ruins and in a state of total disuse. Some effort is made to show the exterior of the futuristic city complex encountered by the pilot in a series of interesting drawings (coupled with a superimposed animated glow effect) and the surrealistic styling of the city complex's geometrically designed interiors have the proper out-of-this-world look to them. The sequences of the jet aircraft time travelling through the star-filled heavens are passable and Darrell Calker's competent orchestrations easily transcend this movie's shaky dramatics and ponderous events the music was designed to underscore.
If seen as a curio of 1950's sci-fi cinema BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER might hold some interest for the inquisitive or have some special appeal for hard core devotees of director Edgar G. Ulmer's work but this misfire effort will doubtlessly leave the more objective and discerning viewer with complete indifference and boredom. Had the script been more capably handled the result might have been some minor masterpiece and a more fitting epitaph to an underrated and much neglected talent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The basic idea behind "Beyond the Time Barrier" isn't bad--it's just
painfully obvious it was a super-low budget film. Too many set and
script problems lingered that would have been worked out if the film
makers had more than $45 to make the entire film. Despite this, the
film does have two minor stars in it--Victor Sokoloff (a familiar face
but a name you'll not readily recognize) and Robert Clark (who made a
few sci-fi films and guest starred on TV shows like "Dragnet").
The film is set in 1960. Clark is a Major in the Air Force and is flying a sub-orbital high altitude experimental flight. However, something odd happens and he's somehow transported 64 years into the future! And, unfortunately, the future completely sucks! It seems some plague killed most of the folks on Earth and left most of the rest as either mutants or total jerks! So, Clark has to somehow get back to his time to alert the folks on Earth. Can he do it? And, is there any way they'll believe him? And, will the complete and total jerks of the future even let him attempt this...after all, they ARE jerks!
Overall, despite the crappy sets, I could recommend this to lovers of cheesy sci-fi. That's because the basic story isn't bad at all and it ended very well. On the other hand, be forewarned--it is cheap--REALLY cheap. The worst are the 'mutants' kept in prison. The ones near the top of the steps and those down inside the pit are OBVIOUSLY from different movies--and look NOTHING like each other!! The stairs ones are guys (no ladies?) wearing the absolute worst skin-head wigs I've ever seen! They are hilariously dumb. But, the folks living down in the pit look almost like extras from "Island of Lost Souls"--all covered in hair and looking a bit primordial!! Duh! So, if you can ignore the dumb parts, it's not bad...but still uneven.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As someone who once watched this kind of movie on TV in the late 60's and early 70's, believe me, this example of old Sci-Fi is the cream of the crop. It moves along at a brisk pace, the sets are original and futuristic, it has sex appeal, and a number of interesting subplots. In fact, as an example of its class. I would rate this 10 out of 10. I read another review here that criticized the view of the city of the future, because it looked like a "postcard". This person must have been born in 1990. In movies of this kind, it is RARE to get a glimpse of the city of the future! It also gave us a view of the destroyed city next door. Wow, what a treat! The budget for this film must have been ABOVE average. Where did I see this movie? On YouTube, where the title caught my eye.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Major William Allison" (Robert Clarke) is a test pilot for the United States Air Force who has been assigned to fly an experimental jet into space at speeds never before attempted by mankind. Unfortunately, his mission accidentally takes him 64 years into the future to a time when a plague has decimated most of the population and created hostile mobs of mutants who seek to wreck havoc on the few less infected people living underground. Yet while these people don't quite suffer from the full ravages of the plague the disease has rendered all of them deaf, mute and completely sterile. All but one that is and the arrival of Major Allison gives them hope that perhaps he and a beautiful woman named "Trirene" (Darlene Tompkins) can offer them a chance of repopulating the human species. But there is another opportunity presented with Major Allison's arrival which another group has formulated and it conflicts with the plans of the establishment. Now rather than reveal any more of this movie and risk spoiling it for those who haven't seen it I will just say that this was a decent science fiction film for the most part. Admittedly, being produced in 1960 it lacks the special effects of movies made during the present time and the film lacked depth and substance to a certain degree as well. But in any case I kind of enjoyed it and so I rate this movie as about average and recommend it to fans of this particular time and genre.
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