Experimental pilot testing a new rocket powered craft (actually a Convair F-102 interceptor) manages to fly into the future and land at the now deserted airbase he left. He ends up in a city with people who are suspicious he is a spy and who want to keep him to procreate with the rulers daughter because the majority of the inhabitants are sterile. He manages to escape and return to his own time but ages dramatically.
Robert Clarke ... Major William Allison
Darlene Tompkins ... Princess Trirene
Vladimir Sokoloff ... The Supreme
Boyd 'Red' Morgan ... Captain
Stephen Bekassy ... Gen. Karl Kruse
Arianne Ulmer ... Capt. Markova (as Arianne Arden)
John Van Dreelen ... Dr. Bourman
Ken Knox ... Col. Marty Martin
Jack Herman ... Dr. Richman
Don Flournoy ... Mutant
Tom Ravick ... Mutant
James 'Ike' Altgens ... Secretary Lloyd Patterson (as James Altgens)
William Shephard ... Gen. York
From Edgar G. Ulmer (director of `The Man from Planet X' and `The Amazing Transparent Man') comes this likable little sc-fi tale. A test pilot (Robert Clark) is catapulted into the future by a freak phenomenon, where a post World War III society lives in futuristic cities that protect them from the lingering radiation. However, the populace is having fertility problems, and the head of the government (Vladimir Sokoloff) hopes that his daughter (gorgeous Darlene Thompkins) and Clark will get together.
The costumes will meet with male approval; the women all wear short dresses and high heels (if you like it, guys, check out `World Without End').
Okay, back to the plot: a group of dissidents conspire to take over the government by releasing a horde of imprisoned mutants. They do, and the first thing the mutants do is attack all the women. Girls, be forewarned: if you dress provocatively, you'll suffer the consequences, especially if imprisoned mutants get loose.
Hats off to Ulmer for efficiency: he filmed this enjoyable effort in a matter of weeks, and he saved money on sets by using an exhibit of futuristic art-and-design at the 1959 Texas State Fair in Dallas. The interior architecture is appealing, despite being relatively simple. The doors, walls, and pillars are all based on triangles and pyramids. Don't' expect any elaborate special effects, but the film does manage to invoke a pleasant Buck Rogers feeling.
Unfortunately, I've never seen this movie shown on local or cable TV, and it doesn't seem to be avail on VHS or DVD. Dedicated sci-fi fans will have to work to get a peek at this lost gem. But it's worth the effort if you're a 1950s sci-fi fan.
I have always been fascinated by the philosophical aspects of space and time, for example, such as the possibility of time dilation. That is why movies such as "The Time Machine", "World Without End" (especially, "World Without End" being one of my all-time favorite SF films), and this one, "Beyond the Time Barrier" have a great deal of appeal.
The highlights of the film and worth far more than the price of admission are the scenes in which Robert Clarke first breaks the time barrier up in space (in physics, this sounds like what is currently referred to as a "wormhole" in contrast to the older concept of time dilation) and the scenes after he touches back down to earth. The scene in which Robert Clarke observes the exterior of the futuristic city along with the pulsating solar energy tower is fascinating. (I first saw this when I was ten years old and never forgot it.) Also the scenes of Darlene Tomkins are also a delight for the eyes (especially the swimming pool scene - I never forgot this either). I also liked the triangular designs. They looked almost out of Die Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) Gruppe - the Munich Art School that specialized in abstract expressionism (producing such greats such as Klee, Marc, Kandinsky, others) or, perhaps out of the Bauhaus School of Architecture which produced such greats such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and others who pioneered modern futuristic design. For this, the art designer for the movie, Ernst Fegte should take a bow.
However, the overall plot is somewhat disappointing after Robert Clarke is captured. The idea that the human race can bring the earth to such a state in which it is perilous to walk the actual surface of the earth due to excessive radiation because the protective atmospheric screens had been decimated (the ozone layer in the stratosphere, for example) seems very dreary indeed (The scientist played by Istvan Bekassy mentions the ionosphere being contaminated by nuclear particles). Furthermore, what happened to the various animal and plant species ? Were they decimated, too ? Perhaps the writers could have planned a less dismal story. As the story progresses, the plot becomes even more pessimistic with the sterility of the population, the evil scientists, the barbarity of the mutants, the almost complete resignation to the eventual extinction of the human race as voiced by the Supreme, Vladimir Sokoloff, and the murder in the final reel of Trirene, his daughter, played by Darlene Tomkins. In general, the writers could have done a lot better, in terms of plot, theme, and characters.
Not the best, not the worst.
Worth watching for the art design and certain aspects of the story which make a person think.
Finding himself in the future,airman Robert is paraded before Vlad, as "the Supreme" whose significance is marked by two black bowling balls on his desk. Mute Darlene simpers a lot and reads our hero's mind but the action is with other arrivals through the cardboard time warp including Ulmer's daughter as Ex-Captain Markova and a couple of Prize winning scientists. They all plan on making off with our hero's jet, to get back to their own time zone, without his high minded attempt to avert the plague which has peopled the twenty first century with stock shots from "Tiger Von Eschnaper" in non matching B&W from which half a dozen extras in awful, wrinkled bald caps emerge to ravage Sokoloff's military.
Occasionally the cut pricing pays, as with our hero in his flying suit, wandering the derelict airport rendered eerie by the lack of natural sound - who came up with the smashed piano? The triangular unit barred cell entrance is a nice piece of designer Fegté's work but does the garden sleeping quarters have to back onto an indoor swimming pool where Darlene skinny dips, discretely cut to her robing up?
Most of the time is spent with the awful support standing in the middle of the set delivering equally awful dialogue. Over familiar scenes like the scientist taking a break from jamming triangle TV and walking Clarke to the convenient blackboard - "Let me Show you." The world of the future actually appears to be full of visual aids with Darlene producing hanging file photos of her family for Clarke.
They didn't do too well on prophesying either "When man set foot on the moon, all men started working together."
Tacky but a whole lot better than its running mate at the Texas Sate Showground become studios, "The Amazing Transparent Man" or most of the awful Ulmer films.What is amazing is that so many people were bluffed by the director's High Art background into believing he had talent.
# The was shot at the same time as Edgar G. Ulmer's The Amazing Transparent Man (1960). The combined shooting time for the double feature was only two weeks. This film was also meant to cash in the popularity of George Pal's The Time Machine (1960).
# Screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce appears briefly as one of the mutants escaping from the jail cell in the underground citadel.