The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Biography, Drama  |  3 August 1984 (USA)
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Reviews: 53 user | 25 critic

A United States Navy destroyer escort participates in a Navy "invisibility" experiment that inadvertently sends two sailors 40 years into the future.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bobby Di Cicco ...
Louise Latham ...
Major Clark (as Kene Holliday)
Joe Dorsey ...
Michael Currie ...
Gary Brockette ...
Debra Troyer ...
Miles McNamara ...
Young Longstreet (as Miles Mc Namara)
Ralph Manza ...
Older Jim
James Edgcomb ...


Reportedly based on a true incident during World War II involving an anti-radar or invisibility experiment that caused the U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Eldridge to disappear from Philadelphia Harbor. Two of the ship's sailors finds themselves thrown 40 years into the future to 1984. Written by K. Rose <> and D. Conwill <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An adventure beyond time. The experiment that should never have happened 41 years ago... Is still going on. See more »


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 August 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Philadelphia Experiment  »

Box Office


$21,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Australian trailer featured music from the film Blue Thunder. See more »


As Sailors are being driven on trucks to the "Philadelphia Naval Shipyard" they pass through the base with several live oak trees dripping with Spanish Moss - which is a dead giveaway for Charleston, South Carolina. See more »


David Herdeg: What the hell have you done, Longstreet?
See more »


Referenced in The Triangle (2005) See more »


I'll Never Smile Again
By Ruth Lowe
Published by MCA Music, A Division of MCA Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent movie for a date
15 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I first saw this film in a theater on a date, and it was an excellent choice, with science fiction for the guys, romance for the ladies, a pleasant feel throughout, and nothing too racy or too gory. I'm really surprised at all the negative comments about this film, and how it should be remade. I thought it was quite good as it was, other than in a few minor details, and I can't imagine it being remade without destroying the special moods it created.

My favorite part is the aerial scene of the orange groves and eucalyptus trees in inland California as David and Allison are driving down a rural highway, seeking out David's old friends. After all the tension in the earlier part of the film, this peaceful interlude set to pleasant music while soaring over the rolling hills is a beautiful contrast, and it becomes the high part of the film. The soothing old '40s music that David switches to on the car radio adds to the ambiance, and it becomes easy to imagine that time has stood still in this part of the country, which of course fits perfectly with the main plot. This mood is extended by David pointing out old landmarks he remembers: a church, a big old tree, and an old gas station. Then old black-and-white photographs on the wall of the gas station of David and his father bring the point home that David was telling the truth all along. It's a poignant scene as David is proud of his dad's accomplishments late in life while he simultaneously laments his father's passing. Too often nowadays films are made with "yang-on-yang" nonstop tension, action, and violence without any pleasant, relaxing high points, so I think this film was very well balanced in that way.

There are a number of other very well-done tidbits throughout the film. For example, David's question to the doctor, "Is this sort of thing possible now?", when describing time travel is something that only a bona-fide time traveler would say, and I remember the audience chuckled in delight at that perfect bit of dialog. Another gem is when David bluntly asks the transvestite in his jail cell, "What the hell are you dressed like that for?" I've known down-to-earth, practically-minded, heterosexual sailors, and that's exactly how they react to our modern era's confusing gender bending. Another gem was David flatly declaring that the water his friend Jim sees in the distance is a mirage, and then Jim ribbing David about David's mistake as they trudge through miles of water.

I thought the romance worked extremely well. Note David's defensiveness about his love life when he's in the '40s, and how standoffish his '40s girlfriend is, and then contrast that to the magnanimous personality of Allison in the '80s, who coincidentally has the same curly red hair as his '40s girlfriend--evidently the look David likes. Allison becomes the ideal version of his '40s girlfriend, and understandably becomes David's new focus in life. They make a very nice couple, I think.

There are admittedly some weak points in the film. The 2001-type vortex travel scene has some unconvincing effects, but considering they're trying to show what the fourth dimension looks like, which presumably has nothing in common with our universe, it's hard to find fault in their visualization. The glowing hands and electric arcs flying out from the arcade games and power lines are a little weak, as are people's reactions to those, and the carrying of top secret papers, and the implausible landing on a ship in a vortex, but I regard those are minor points. The modern day reaction of Jim to his old friend seems unrealistic at first until you think about it, and the explanation given about Jim's psychological problems after the experiment makes perfect sense and adds a bit of unexpected realism. In real life you can't expect to look up old friends and have everything go back to the way it used to be. Such details in the film fit together quite well, I believe.

Whether or not this movie follows the historical facts and rumors of the original Philadelphia Experiment isn't particularly important to me. What I care about is whether the film stands on its own as a piece of art, and in my opinion it definitely does. This is a film I find myself thinking about from time to time, and I like to watch it every so often. To me it's a film worth owning.

37 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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History Channel program 'The True Story of the Philadelphia Experiment' northern_imager
Official Naval Reports huntsvillenews
no, it didn't happen. sheesh ca26
What do you know about this story? kapn_twitchy
Lost? kat4892
Caused the Bermuda Triangle... Gary1970
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