Young writer Richard Collier is met on the opening night of his first play by an old lady who begs him to "Come back to me". Mystified, he tries to find out about her, and learns that she is a famous stage actress from the early 1900s, Elise McKenna. Becoming more and more obsessed with her, he manages, by self hypnosis, to travel back in time where he meets her. They fall in love, a matching that is not appreciated by her manager. Can their love outlast the immense problems caused by their "time" difference? And can Richard remain in a time that is not his? Written by
This is technically George Wendt's film debut. However, while he is credited, his scenes were cut. See more »
The hotel register that Richard finds in the attic in 1980 is different than the register he signs at the hotel in 1912. Notice the signatures and placement of "Chicago" - completely different. See more »
[various snippets in crowd chatter]
I got some news. There was an agent in the house tonight, and he said he thinks this play might be good enough for Broadway.
[cheers from crowd]
Fingers crossed, who knows? Come on, let's all have some cake.
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Somewhere In Time is not only a fantasy story. It is romance, science fiction, and fantasy rolled into one, based on Richard Matheson's novel, Bid Time Return, (Matheson also wrote the screenplay and has a cameo appearance in the film). Shot in 1980 and released by Universal Studios, it is a wonderful and, I feel, classic film that has stood the test of time. I am often surprised at how many persons of adult age have seen it. I cannot understand why Somewhere In Time has been panned by the critics since its release. Filmed on location in Chicago and Mackinac Island, Michigan, Somewhere In Time is a little long at 104 minutes. However, the story never drags so this is not a big liability. Directed by Jean Szarc, the cast is first rate, starring Christopher Reeve, (what a standard of personal courage he has set for us in recent years!) as the playwright Richard Collier, Jane Seymour, one of the loveliest ladies to ever grace either the large or small screens, as the actress Elise McKenna, and the fine character actor Christopher Plummer as the mean-spirited W.S. Robinson, McKenna's agent. The story begins in May, 1972. Playwright Collier is visited by a very old woman at a party he is attending at Millfield College, close to the Grand Island Hotel on Mackinac Island, which will be so important to the story later. She approaches and hands him a pocket watch. Cryptically, she says, "Come back to me.' We now fast forward eight years to Chicago, 1980. The restless Collier, who has recently broken up with his lady friend, is drawn to The Grand Hotel. Collier drives up to Mackinac Island and checks into the hotel. The kind-hearted Arthur, who has lived and worked at the hotel for 70 years, asks him if "they had met before." Collier assures him they have not. Collier chances upon an old photo of the turn of the century actress Elise McKenna in the hotel museum and is mesmerized by her. Arthur tells him that she appeared in a play at the hotel in 1912. Collier's obsession quickly grows and he begins research on her life. He comes across a photo of McKenna as an old woman and remembers her as the mysterious lady he met at the party. He discovers from her housekeeper that McKenna died eight years previous, on the very night she made herself known to him, and that something happened during her hotel appearance in 1912. After that, according to the housekeeper, she was never the same. During his visit to McKenna's home, he discovers a book on time travel that Elise read "again and again." After visiting with the book's author and, finding his own name in an old Grand Hotel register from 1912, Collier makes an intense effort to slip into the past, and succeeds. Soon, he meets Elise in the hotel, (he has transported himself to the time when Elise McKenna is staying in the hotel, preparing for her performance), and the scene where he and she meet is quite moving. At this point, the story becomes even better because Reeve does not have to carry it by himself. Seymour and Plummer step in and, what had been a good picture, becomes an excellent one for the duration. Richard and Elise quickly become drawn to each other, much to Robinson's unease. Robinson, who loves her but will not admit it, has a genuine concern when the playwright Richard Collier cannot name any of his work that he is familiar with. There is an unhealthy tension between these two strong-willed men until film's end. There are many interesting segments through this portion of the story. Entering the hotel restaurant, Collier seems to walk forever. The shot of the beautiful Elise, sitting at her makeup table with hair down and thrown over one shoulder, daydreaming of Richard, is enough to take the breath out of any man, (certainly this one!). The kiss first between Richard and Elise is very gentle and tender, and another lump forms in the throat when Elise again unpins her hair as Richard closes the door to room 117. But, perhaps the best scene in the entire film is when Elise, caught up with emotion, seems to ad-lib directly to an equally emotional Richard, sitting in the audience, during the hotel performance. Now is a good time to note that Jane Seymour possesses an interesting combination of hesitation and come-hither in look and demeanor. Ms. Seymour is something you do not come across often: an extremely alluring woman but very much a lady. The wholesome Reeve played off of her extremely well. The furious Robinson loses control of himself and has Richard beaten by thugs, causing him to lose credibility with his star forever. However, fate deals a cruel hand to the star-crossed lovers as, just when they have admitted their love for one another, Richard is abruptly returned to 1980, waking up in the same bed he was originally transported from. I won't give the story's very touching finale away, I will just say that the emotionally devastated Richard spends the final few minutes of the story attempting to return to 1912 and Elise. A few final comments. For fans of romance, fantasy and science fiction, Somewhere In Time will indeed be a special treat. (That the music is hauntingly beautiful only enhances the mood). It was pleasing to see Richard Matheson, author of such hard-edged tales as The Omega Man and The Shrinking Man, (to name but two), and who is seen as an astonished viewer during Elise McKenna's Grand Hotel performance, turn out such a powerful love story. I noticed only one glaring editing mistake, and that is an excellent accomplishment for a period story of this length. Near film's end, the heartbroken Richard lies listless and semi-comatose in a Grand Hotel guest room, pining for Elise, for a full week. When Arthur, (The gentleness of the lifelong hotel servant impressed me. I wish I could meet a few Arthur types at hotels I stay in!), finds him, the fact that he has had little food or water for days and is dangerously close to death is impressed upon us. However, when we see his face, he is clean-shaven and way too bright-eyed for a man under such a self-imposed ordeal! I hope that perhaps someday Christopher Reeve's health is such that he can once again co-star with the ever beautiful Jane Seymour. Mr. Reeve's physical limitations notwithstanding, I believe they would still make a terrific screen team.
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