Movies and Film

A Future Unexpected – World Without End (1956)

Time travel.  Everyone wants to be able to travel through time.  Whether to change their past, to save someone they love or to simply see sights they never thought they would see.  Travelling to the past or the future allows unlimited opportunities to do unlimited things.  How could someone not want to do so?  Film, television and fiction have been rife with such tales for decades and have fueled the imaginations of people everywhere because of it.  World Without End might seem like just another one of those tales, and seem extremely familiar and you would not be wrong as there are a few movies that are nearly exactly the same.  But this one differs in a way that was a little unexpected.

To start off, a spaceship is hurtling out of control and out of necessity, lands on a planet similar to Earth.  The team, made up of four men, start to explore the area and come upon giant spiders and mutated looking cavemen forcing them to battle for their lives.  While doing all of that, they discover some graves and combined with the residual radiation, they figure they have jumped forward in time hundreds of years.  It is not the news they were expecting to hear, but at least they are on Earth.  They soon meet what is left of the human race, those that have not been deformed; who also now live underground, but not all is the utopia it seems.  So not only must they try and find a way home, they have to battle the human race on two fronts, those above and those below.

This film would not be the first movie about the subject, nor the last, but it was well done despite some hit and miss special effects.  To start, the rocket ship looked good, but the giant spiders were possibly even worse than Corman could have done.  Maybe.  But in the end, they were merely stuffed animals.  There was literally no effort at all put into the spiders to make them seem even the slightest bit formidable.  The mutates had decent makeup and did not require anything other than that, so they worked on the whole.  The underground base was decent enough, but very bland, perhaps to signify that it was indeed the future.  The costumes were okay as well, though this would be another film that would see the women of the future wear tiny little skirts.  It is almost like a common denominator that ties most science-fiction films together.
If this movie seems overly familiar, and it will, you merely have to think back to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, the novel that preceded this – not the film, and you would find some similarities between the two, case in point those who live above ground and those who live below it, though in this case they are reversed.  While the film might have based its premise upon another work and featured a few other common ideas, it almost seemed like this movie would be remade both in 1960 and in 1964 as Beyond the Time Barrier and The Time Travelers, not counting The Time Machine in 1960 which would also star Rod Taylor.  At times, it was almost like watching the exact same movie, albeit with a few things here and there to differentiate them between each other.  Where World Without End can be looked at as a nearly original movie, the two films that would come later cannot help but be looked on as paler imitations, though they were, if viewed by themselves, enjoyable as well.

What differs this film more than others of its ilk, or even those that are nearly the same, is that it finds its protagonists remaining in the future instead of returning to their own time.  This was definitely not the happy ending that is more commonly associated with these types of films.  Usually our heroes will discover some sort of technology, fix their own or simply figure out a way to head back to their own time and let their travels simply remain a bad memory while they continue on with their mediocre lives.  That is why this ending is so surprising when you reach the end of the film, it is the fact that they do not return home and they have absolutely no way of doing so.  Also, even though this movie might end on a somewhat positive note, it is marred by sorrow and loss, for those things they can never get back, in one case family, and for all of them, everything they have ever known and will never see again.

Written and directed by Edward Bernds, he does a good job with the film, and it does not hurt that he had a great cast to work with in making the film.  Christopher Dark, Everett Glass, Nancy Gates, Nelson Leigh, and Rod Taylor all-star with Hugh Marlowe being the standout among them.  Nancy Gates and Lisa Montell are also featured as a couple of the native women who aid our protagonists in their mission to move the human colony back to the surface of the Earth throughout the film.  Bernds, while making a fun and enjoyable piece of science-fiction with the picture, bad special effects and all, cannot be blamed for the movies that followed.  Standing on its own two feet, World Without End is worth the price of admission.

4 out of 5

2 replies »

  1. Holy cow dude….That is a unique twist. I am so used to the heroes having a happy ending so this a nice change of pace! Even though this premise has been used countless times over the years…I still enjoy these sort of flicks!


  2. I went to see WORLD WITHOUT END when I was 9 and three quarters in January, 1957 and I was amazed by it and became totally obsessed with it as only a 9 years old boy at that time could be. Looked at 62 years later on my Warner Archive DVD of it, it has a few faults but remains a very entertaining film. Leith Stevens music score still sounds excellent. A landmark of my childhood. At the time, as it was an ‘A’ certificate film here in the UK (children not allowed in to see it unless accompanied by an adult), I asked a man on his way in to take me in with him. This was common practice at the time, although modern day parents would be horrified by the thought of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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