Beyond the Time Barrier, another such film that deals with our possible future and our prevention of it, is an excellent movie done on a small budget of only $125,000. Without relying too heavily upon special effects, but with a good script though, and some fairly good actors, none of who most people would have ever heard of, they turned in a small, but exceptional, science-fiction classic.
The story deals with a pilot named Maj. William Allison, played by Robert Clarke who is testing out a plane when he loses contact with the base. Landing the plane he finds the place deserted, a ghost town, with nothing and nobody around. But off in the distance he sees a strange city which he soon finds himself in after being captured. He meets a deaf-mute girl named Trirene and her father The Supreme who rules the place. He soon learns that he is in the year 2024 and that a plague has wiped out most of the Earth in the year 1971. He meets some other fellow time travelers and learns that while the Supreme wants him to stay and marry his daughter; he must go back and possibly prevent this catastrophe.
As previously mentioned the script was fairly strong for this little film. Written by Arthur C. Pierce and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, the movie while short, was to the point and really delivered on its premise and plot compared to other science-fiction films of a similar budget at that time. It is a shame that most filmmakers of the period did not realize that you do not especially need fancy effects to get your story across. What you do need is a good script with some good writing and actors to get that story across to the viewing public.
Robert Clarke star of screens large and small was good as the test pilot who traveled to the future. He was already an acting veteran by this point in time having been in multiple shows and films and the movie benefited by having him present. He could have sold the moment where he first wakes up in the fortress a little more with his protestations, but it still worked overall. On the other hand, his scenes with Darlene Tompkins who plays the beautiful princess, Trirene, were probably the best in the picture. The chemistry between the two seemed genuine and the fact that she had to convey everything she wanted to say with just the use of facial and body expressions made her performance quite exemplary.
The film might lead to comparisons of the Time Machine which happened to be released in the same year, and those comparisons would be warranted. Coming along four years later would be The Time Travelers which might seem overly familiar to those two movies as well, and yes, it is a very similar picture. While The Time Travelers and Beyond the Time Barrier may not be straight up carbon copies, they present the same themes of technology, survival, class distinction, exploration and more. In fact, if you were to watch all three in one sitting you would most likely get fairly tired of time travel films, especially as the three of them are so close in subject matter, but separately, they are all strong pictures and are quite enjoyable.
So, while science-fiction films that deal with the subject of time are nothing new, they continue to fascinate and continue to this very day. Whether it is about going forwards or backwards, time travel has always been of interest to nearly everybody. For some, it is out of curiosity and for others it is about righting wrongs and for others, personal gain. Whatever the reason, time travel in the movies has been explored many, many times and will continue to be explored as long as imagination exists.
4 out of 5