Polite Dead Morlock
Larry Abbott, an English teacher in Ohio who is a
frequent contributor to this page (see below) reports that one of his
students, John Simms, (who's in the ninth grade), spotted an interesting
goof. When George is in the underground home of the Morlocks, attempting
to rescue the Eloi, he knocks a Morlock backward into a large rock,
apparently killing the creature. Yet... in the following wide shot of
the scene, as the Eloi start to rush past the fallen Morlock, the Morlock
very carefully pulls his right leg out of their path so he won't trip
Larry also asks: "How many different movies
have featured the uniforms of the air-raid wardens seen in the 1966
"future" segment of The Time Machine?" Larry recognizes
the suits as being used in Forbidden Planet and believes he's
seen them in at least one other science fiction film. Props used in
Forbidden Planet can be seen in the background of the museum seen in
the "talking rings" sequence.
This section now updated by Sandra Petojevic, March 6, 2011:
The Australian cartoonist Steve
Panozzo spotted that the air raid wardens are wearing the C-57D
crew's spacesuits from the movie Forbidden
Planet (Fred M. Wilcox, 1956) and I spotted that also the astrogator
was used when George Wells is in the museum with Weena. Steve also discovered
that the Forbidden Planet astronaut's uniforms also appeared
in a movie called Queen
of Outer Space (Edward Berndts, 1958), starring Zsa Zsa Gabor,
of all people!
This section now updated
by Sandra Petojevic, February 5, 2012:
Steve also saw these uniforms
featured in the movie Amazon
Women on the Moon (John Landis, 1987) as well. It's pretty clear
that the costumes for Amazon
Women on the Moon are slightly different to the original uniforms,
which means they were made specially for the movie as a visual homage.
A nice touch.
Steve thinks that the Queen of Outer Space was the movie that
John Landis drew inspiration from when he made Amazon Women on the
Correspondent Jerry Search asks: if the date
readouts on the Time Machine's control panel
are illuminated from inside (and
they are), why does George need
to light a match to read them when
he's sealed inside the mountain? Jerry points
out that this "waste of a match" costs George dearly later
in the film, when he's "down to his last match" in the lair
of the Morlocks trying to save Weena and her friends.
Larry Abbott... an English teacher... wonders why George's pants aren't
the slightest bit dirty after he sits in dust and dirt that's thick
enough to write in!
Stars of "The Time Machine"
To Jim Mihal -- a teacher of astronomy -- there are a couple of
"obvious" goofs in the scene where George begins his journey
through time. "In that scene," writes Jim, "the sun and
moon are seen zipping across the window pane. Then -- in the same window
--the stars are seen whirling around Polaris (in circles).
"The only problem with this is that Polaris is due north ... and
the sun moves along the ecliptic which, at best, is 67 degrees away.
"The movie is set during the winter in England. This is even worse!
The sun, as you know, makes a very shallow angle with the southern horizon
at this time of the year ... causing it to be about 110 degrees from
"Another minor error is the path of the sun and moon during
these same scenes. My recollection is that this is a full moon... and
it takes roughly the same path as the sun. This would not be the case,
in fact, the winter full moon would follow a path nearly equal to the
path of the summer sun (which as you know is quite different from the
path of the winter sun)."
Thanks to Jim for his comments... and for those "as you knows"
he kindly added into his comments. Jim... I need to take your
- De Staalmeesters (1662)
It's been so long since I've discovered any new "Time Machine"
trivia of my own. So much has been provided by the nice people who visit
this site and share their enthusiasm for, and knowledge about, The Time
Machine. Their names appear below with the trivia they 'discovered.'
So, I'm kind of proud of the two pieces of trivia I 'discovered' - the
missing background plate (see below) and this
Let me ask you...
what does the picture above have to do with George Pal's "The Time
Machine?" (Click on the picture for the
Version... does not end well.
Charlie in The Chair
The Time Machine's chair was not constructed especially for the film, but
rather came from 'stock' - the prop department provided a 1901 Eugene
Berninghaus barber chair, modifying it slightly - most notably by taking the
footrest and making a headrest out of it. The chair is very distinctive... and
the same chair has appeared in other films, most notably Charlie Chaplin's
"The Great Dictator" (1940). Whether this is the same exact
chair later used in The Time Machine is open to debate, but there's no question
but that it's the same model - compare the frame enlargement to Chris Perrotta's
blueprint. (Chaplin information courtesy Harvey Mayo) (Click thumbnails to see a frame
As the concrete blocks of the Sphinx build behind The Time Traveler as he nears
802,701, one frame of film shows -- rather than the appropriate background film,
rear-projected behind the machine -- a piece
of paper that reads "Back Frame" -- and in the upper right hand corner,
preserved for all time within the film... is some technician's thumb. Since this
scene is flashing with day and night' effects, the mistake is not obvious when
viewing the film at proper speed. (Click thumbnail to see a frame
and only a few seconds later...
When The Time Traveller tries to stop the machine too quickly, a close-up
of the dial shows that he has reached 802,701. But the machine starts to spin
wildly, and those with a quick eye will note that in the shot above, as the
machine spins, the dial reads not 802,701... but
rather 1900. (Ed Turner has the eagle eyes
on this one; thanks Ed!)
Oops yet again...
The Time Traveller turns his back for just a moment, and
Weena is grabbed by a Morlock. This would be shocking enough... but the
"Morlock," convinced that his head will not appear on camera, is not
wearing his mask. Note distinctly shiny human nose and chin visible upper right.
(Click Thumbnail for a large frame blow-up from the film)
While Chris Perrotta and friend John Rossa were checking some geometric and
dimensional aspects of the machine via a close inspection of the film -- they
discovered, quite serendipitously, the famous
books The Time Traveler takes with him on his return to the future. One of the books
is actually visible
in the film, sitting in the chair of the machine, as The Time Traveler pulls the
machine back inside his laboratory. The shot is very short, and the book title, alas,
is not readable. But this small detail escaped many of us, even
after repeated viewings.
Some fans have suggested that a prop "Martian War Machine"
from Pal's "War of the Worlds" (1953) can be seen in the window
of Filby's Department Store in the 1966 "future" sequence.
While this would be a great "in-joke," my guess is that the
object is simply a lamp with a curved metal shade. Notable in this scene
- and quite the reverse of a goof - is another object in the
same window... identified by a card as "The Latest Tubeless TV."
The card can barely be read in the frame, and the 'flat screen TV' can
be seen top right, just above the blue arrow.
This section now updated by Sandra Petojevic, September 12, 2009:
Sometime in the 1990s, freeze-framing my VHS copy of "The Time Machine"
to death to study various details, it dawned on me that the "Martian
war machine" in the shop window, underneath that New Tubeless TV, is
the lamp which may be seen on the desk in Morbius's study in "Forbidden
Planet," yet another instance of props and costumes from FP being recycled
in this and many other SF movies and TV shows filmed at MGM. My guess
is that it was not a custom-built item, but just a circa 1955 futuristic-looking
decorator lamp someone from M-G-M picked up to contribute to the FP
set-dressing. I wish it were now sitting on MY desk -- it would certainly
be a very tasty combination relic of both those classic films.
The text e-mailed by Russ Karas in August 22, 2009
When you enter the search term "George Pal" on eBay, some strange
items sometimes result.
For example, your search will return items related to "Marilyn,"
who was a 'Boy George' pal back in the 80's.
And the fact that "PAL" is a video standard used in the UK and
elsewhere accounts for this amusing entry for a videotape for
sale: "The Madness of King George Pal."
Talked about The Time Machine in the Mel Gibson/ Ron Howard film "Ransom"
Michael J. Fox sat in The Time Machine in a promotional film for "Back
to the Future." Leonard Maltin sat in the machine for an
"Entertainment Tonight" segment. (Thanks: Richard Cole)
The Pal Time Machine appears briefly
The Pal Time Machine appears briefly in an Episode of PBS's Nova -
And the Pal Time Machine has appeared in the films of Mike
Jittlov (The Green Wizard seen above).
Don Brockway, March 10, 2000 (updated October 12, 2004)
Three sections updated by Sandra Petojevic, Master of Arts, September
12, 2009, March 6, 2011
and February 5, 2012
More Trivia and Goofs by Sandra Petojevic
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