Trivia and Goofs

The 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 anyone."

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:

George meet air raid wardens The United Planets Cruiser C-57D with the astrogator George and the astrogator in the museum

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!

Queen of Outer Space (1958)

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 Moon.

Amazon Women on the Moon

Wasting Matches

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.

Dust-Repellent Pants?

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!

sun.JPG (46047 bytes)  stars.JPG (43162 bytes)

The Other  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 Polaris. 

"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 course!

Rembrandt - 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 new one.

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 answer)


French Poster

American Artwork

The French Version... does not end well.

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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 blow-up).

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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 blow-up).

Wrong_date.jpg (49230 bytes)

Oops again... 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)

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Those three books, right there!

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.

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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:

Look at the lamp far right behind Rod Taylor! Look at the lamp between the two men standing before Dr. Morbius!

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

Searching eBay

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."


They 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 in "Gremlins."

The Pal Time Machine appears briefly in an Episode of PBS's Nova - Time Travel.

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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