H. George Wells (Rod Taylor) takes a trip in his velvet-upholstered time machine from London on 31 December 1899 to God-knows-where on 12 October 802701, where he discovers two races – a carefree vegetarian people called the Eloi (who have pudding bowl haircuts in the film and wear white cut off robes) and a troglodytic cannibalistic race called the Morlocks (who look like deranged blue Wombles with lightbulbs for eyes and who use the Eloi as food).
There is also a love-interest for Wells in the shape of Yvette Mimieux’s Weena – who looks like she’s just emerged from the set of a shampoo advert and is less childlike than the Weena of the novel.
The Oscar-winning effects by Gene Warren and Wah Chang are superb, and the travelling-through-time scenes remain unforgettable, as the world speeds up around Taylor and his time machine, and the years roll by in stop-motion.
Of particular note are the shop dummy that models a century’s worth of fashion, and the dead Morlock who rots to bits at the end.
Pit-stops include WWI, the Blitz, and the nuclear bombardment of London in 1966.
The movie only really comes unstuck when Taylor leads a Spartacus-like revolution against the slave-driving Morlocks, before (or is it after?) stumbling into dinner with his friends and relating his incredible story.
The 2002 remake has little to recommend it beyond Samantha Mumba in a string bikini!
H. George Wells
David Filby/James Filby
Dr Philip Hillyer