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Somewhere in Time (1980)

PG  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Romance  |  3 October 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 19,826 users   Metascore: 29/100
Reviews: 243 user | 33 critic | 7 from

A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to find the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Susan French ...
Arthur's Father
Eddra Gale ...
Audrey Bennett ...
Richard's Date
Critic (as W.H. Macy)
Laurence Coven ...
Susan Bugg ...
Christy Michaels ...
Ali Marie Matheson ...
Student (as Ali Matheson)


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 Rhino <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Beyond fantasy. Beyond obsession. Beyond time itself... he will find her. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

3 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bid Time Return  »

Box Office


$5,100,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The hotel in the film's source novel, the Hotel del Coronado, was the first choice for use in the film. The hotel had been well known for its appearance in the classic film Some Like It Hot (1959) but it could not be used in this film version due to its modernization. This modernizing, preventing a depiction of 1912 film reality, included roof antennas, aluminum windows, new tennis courts and a high-rise convention center built on the property. The Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel was sited in the book "Great American Hotels", was perfect, and was selected for use in the film. Today, there is a plaque on stone monument placed on the hotel's site at the actual place where Richard and Elise met in the film. Ironically, due to the limited budget, cast and crew did not stay at the hotel during principal photography, they stayed in dormitories on the other side of Mackinac Island. The Hotel del Coronado did not miss out on a film production though, it was used for another picture around the same time that this film was made, for The Stunt Man (1980). See more »


The Grand Hotel's water tower is visible from the lighthouse, despite being built well after 1912 when the film was set. See more »


[first lines]
[various snippets in crowd chatter]
Richard Collier: 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]
Richard Collier: Fingers crossed, who knows? Come on, let's all have some cake.
See more »


Referenced in Charles in Charge: Snowed In (1985) See more »


Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Op. 43, Variation XVIII
Andante Cantabile
Written by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Courtesy Belwin Mills Publishing Corp.
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User Reviews

One of the most achingly beautiful movies ever
3 December 2002 | by (Yorba Linda, CA) – See all my reviews

Somewhere in Time is a movie any sensitive person with a heart will love, I guarantee you. From the opening at the theater to the unbelievably moving final scene, I have never seen a film so passionately and yet so innocently depict the power of absolute, all-encompassing, unconditional love.

The story is so simple, yet therein lies the beauty. Richard Collier, a man with no love in what otherwise seems like a nice enough life, becomes enchanted at the sight of Elise McKenna's painting and with only the power of his heart travels back to her time. Once there, he looks for Elise, and finds her. Elise is confused and does not immediately respond because of her manager W.F. Robinson, but she quickly returns Richard's love. I will not say anymore, other than that the ending made me feel so warm and yet made me want to cry. You will be hard pressed to find a movie lighter on plot, and there are many questions left unanswered, but that's perfect because Somewhere in Time is very surreal, and dreamlike even. The emphasis is not on watching events, but on simply feeling love, and this is as close as anyone has ever come to making a movie out of pure emotion.

Jane Seymour looks radiant while on screen but this is Christopher Reeve's movie. Reeve, after amazing everyone with his talent, good looks, and charisma in one of the biggest blockbusters ever, could have become one of Hollywood's all-time great leading men. Instead, a series of horrible decisions about what roles to take and not take made it so that he had to do TV movies to pay the bills by the late 1980s. To this day, to 99% of the public he is the paralyzed Superman and nothing more. But this is the one movie that shows what should have been. He very convincingly depicts Richard first as goofy kid, then as empty older man, then as someone simply awestruck by love and determined to let nothing stop him from getting the breathtaking Elise. Then, in the final scenes, he portrays his anguish so remarkably it is wrenching to watch.

Also deserving of special mention is Christopher Plummer, who seems to be an extraordinary actor on the basis of the two films I've seen him in (the other is The Insider). A lesser actor would have made Robinson into a mustache-twirling villain, and brought the whole production down to the level of a soap opera. Plummer, however, with his nuanced performance, makes us hate Robinson, but also makes us his feel his pain. Through his subtle mannerisms, we see that Robinson himself deeply longs for Elise's love, but has probably never been loved and never will be loved by anybody. We thus realize how incredibly lucky Richard is. I personally saw Robinson as perhaps someone whose father never loved him and whose mother died when he was very young, and he has spent his whole life wanting to truly take care of someone like Elise but it is as if he has been rendered incapable. He is still contemptible for the things he does to Richard, but he is also a tragic figure, and the script has nothing to do with that-it's all Christopher Plummer.

John Barry's score is also among the most enchanting in movie history, in my opinion. I have never heard a score which so wonderfully conjured up feelings of timeless love. Jeannot Szwarc may not be a well known or otherwise accomplished director, but he does this one perfectly. This movie in the wrong hands could so easily come across as corny and trite, but instead it is such an absorbing masterpiece. Every element in this movie is just perfect, and it should be universally considered one of the greatest love stories of all time (if not the greatest, like I think it is).

As it is most people have never heard of it, but it is nice to know that a small devoted following gives it the recognition it deserves. I hope it continues to win people's hearts for generations to come.

56 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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