Yvette Mimieux was actually underage when shooting began (she turned 18 during the shoot) and was not legally supposed to work a full shooting schedule, but did. She was inexperienced, but as she worked on this film she kept getting better and better, so that by the end of the shoot the producers went back and re-shot some of her earliest scenes.
When the Time Traveler stops in 1966, in the front window of Filby's Department store there is a very brief shot of a display featuring "the latest tubeless TV". It looks remarkably like a modern flat-panel computer monitor.
In the DVD special feature entitled "Time Machine: The Journey Continues", FX designers Wah Chang, Tim Baar and Gene Warren state that the scene of the limb with several apples and leaves growing on it at an accelerated rate while George moves forward in time was actually a painting done by artist Bill Brace. The canvas was photographed with a locked-off camera, one frame at a time, as Brace rendered the progressive growth of the leaves and apples in great detail.
According to supplemental information on the DVD George Pal wanted the disk on the machine to spin clockwise for travel into the future and counter-clockwise for travel into the past. Due to the way the mechanism was built it was deemed too expensive and time-consuming to add the reversing feature.
The shape of the time machine itself was inspired by one of George Pal's favorite types of childhood vehicles--a sled. This is the reason for the sled-like design of the machine, so that it could "slide" into time.
The original time machine was sold at the MGM studio auction in 1971, the same auction that originally sold the Ruby Slippers (see trivia for The Wizard of Oz (1939)). The winner of the auction was the owner of a traveling show. Five years later the prop was found in a thrift store in Orange, CA. Film historian Bob Burns purchased it for $1,000. Using blueprints his friend George Pal had given him years earlier, he and a crew of friends restored it. The restoration crew included D.C. Fontana script consultant and writer on Star Trek (1966) and Michael Minor art director on Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982). Please see www.hollywoodlostandfound.net/props/timemachine.html for further info on this amazing prop.
The grand staircase leading up to the great dome is a famous MGM landmark among trivia buffs. Built for Kismet (1944), it was miraculously saved from razing by an executive who wisely thought maybe they could use it again. Situated outdoors on Lot 3, not far from the Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) Street set, it showed up in numerous films and TV shows (twice on The Twilight Zone (1959)) over the years.
When George arrives in the year 802701 his time machine reads the date of October 12th. So George arrives into a "New World" on the anniversary of Columbus' first reaching the "New World" of the Americas.
Director George Pal was a close friend of fellow animator Walter Lantz, ever since Lantz did some cut-rate Woody Woodpecker work for Pal's Destination Moon (1950). As tribute, Pal tried to include Woody Woodpecker references in all his subsequent films. In the scenes where the Eloi are having a good time, every so often you can distinctly hear the "Woody Woodpecker" laugh.
During the air raid scene, as all the people rush into the shelter a little girl crossing the street stops to pick something up that she dropped. When she does, you can quickly see that it is a small Woody Woodpecker figure.
George Pal originally considered casting a middle-aged British actor such as David Niven or James Mason as George. He later changed his mind and selected the younger Australian actor Rod Taylor to give the character a more athletic, idealistic dimension.
When the question arose about which three books George took, it is interesting to note that most of the books in the bookcase have been rearranged sometime between the beginning of the movie (when George was writing the dinner note) and the time when Filby asked which three books.
When they were rebuilding the Time Machine they had to completely remanufacture the missing chair (originally a barber's chair), the disk and the control panel. The panel had been removed from the machine during production so that the close-up shots of it could be filmed. What became of the original props is not known.
Michael Hiltner saw a notice on a bulletin board at his college that extras were wanted for a film, and was cast as an uncredited Eloi man. An avid bicyclist, he was a member of the US Olympic Cycling teams in 1960 and 1964, was a pioneer in mountain biking and changed his name to Victor Vincente of America.
It has been noted that the long shot of George's street in the 1966 air raid scene is a left and right composite shot, but it is even more complicated than that. The right side of the scene, with Filby's department store, was shot on the Victorian-styled David Copperfield Court, at one end of Lot-2, MGM. The left side of the shot is of the Vinegar Tree House in the middle of Lot-2, MGM. And the top half of the shot is a superimposed matte painting of modern architecture reflecting 1966.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The music at the end of the movie, during the exchange between Mrs. Watchett and Filby, is Claude Debussy's "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair," which was published about a decade after the events presented in the movie; although other Debussy music was popular during that time.