Film (1980). Universal Pictures. Directed by Jeannot Swzarc. Screenplay by Richard Matheson based on his novel Bid Time Return (1975). Produced by Stephen Deutsch and Ray Stark (uncredited). Cast includes Susan French, Christopher Reeve, Christopher Plummer, Jane Seymour, George Voskovec, Teresa Wright. 103 minutes. Colour.
1972: as young Richard Collier (Reeve) celebrates the debut of his play, an aged woman (French) approaches, places a pocket watch in his hand and says "Come back to me" before disappearing. 1980: Collier is a successful Chicago playwright suffering a bout of writer's block. Taking a break at the historical Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan, Collier finds and becomes infatuated with the portrait of a famous early-twentieth-century actress, Elise McKenna (Seymour). Realizing she was the elderly woman he met in 1972, Collier researches her life, first by contacting her erstwhile landlady Laura Roberts (Wright). He discovers a music box with evidence that he himself had given this to Elise in 1912. She also owned a book on Time Travel by Dr Gerard Finney (Voskovec), who believes such travel is possible through self-Hypnosis. By this means – encouraged in the necessary leap of faith by finding his signature in an old Grand Hotel guest book – Collier succeeds in projecting himself into 1912 and signing that same book. Romance with Elise follows, opposed by her stage manager William Fawcett Robinson (Plummer), who fears the distraction will harm the actress's career and arranges for Collier to be tied up and locked in the stables. Collier escapes and makes love to Elise, but the hypnotic spell that keeps him in the past is broken by the discovery in his pocket of a new penny dated 1979. Greatly weakened and unable to return to 1912, Collier spends several days in his hotel room drifting slowly towards death. Finally there is a posthumous scene of reunion with Elise.
Though essentially Fantasy, Somewhere in Time features a traditional sf Time Paradox involving the watch given by aged Elise to Collier in 1972 and by him to young Elise in 1912; this artefact exists only during a sixty-year Time Loop. Less than successful when first released, the film has gained a considerable cult following. [GFi/DRL]
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