Things to Come (1936)

96,99 or 110 mins | Drama | 18 April 1936

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HISTORY

The title card for the viewed print read: "H. G. Wells' Things to Come." The running time of the London premiere of this film was 110 minutes. Approximately sixteen minutes of the film was cut for the New York opening. According to HR, approximately 3,000 feet of the film were cut by Hungarian censors. According to a 29 Apr 1936 ad in DV, at New York's Rivoli Theatre, crowds formed continuous lines from 9:30 a.m. on the day of the opening through the time the ad went to press on the fourth day. A special screening of this film, which took place in Washington, D.C. for an audience of government officials, featured a transatlantic telephone address by H. G. Wells. According to Var, this was England's first million-dollar picture. Modern critics consider this film to be one of the first, and most important, major science fiction films. Modern sources credit John Clements as the German fighter pilot. ...

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The title card for the viewed print read: "H. G. Wells' Things to Come." The running time of the London premiere of this film was 110 minutes. Approximately sixteen minutes of the film was cut for the New York opening. According to HR, approximately 3,000 feet of the film were cut by Hungarian censors. According to a 29 Apr 1936 ad in DV, at New York's Rivoli Theatre, crowds formed continuous lines from 9:30 a.m. on the day of the opening through the time the ad went to press on the fourth day. A special screening of this film, which took place in Washington, D.C. for an audience of government officials, featured a transatlantic telephone address by H. G. Wells. According to Var, this was England's first million-dollar picture. Modern critics consider this film to be one of the first, and most important, major science fiction films. Modern sources credit John Clements as the German fighter pilot.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1936
p. 6
Daily Variety
29 Apr 1936
pp. 4-5
Film Daily
20 Apr 1936
p. 5, 8
Film Daily
22 Apr 1936
p. 4
Hollywood Reporter
2 Nov 1935
p. 11
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1936
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1936
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 1936
p. 4
Motion Picture Herald
7 Mar 1936
p. 46
Motion Picture Herald
18 Apr 1936
p. 77
New York Times
21 Feb 1936
p. 21
New York Times
18 Apr 1936
p. 19
Variety
4 Mar 1936
p. 26
Variety
22 Apr 1936
p. 14
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Trick photog
Edward Cohen
Spec effects photog by
Spec eff dir
Asst spec eff
ART DIRECTOR
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Francis Lyon
Film ed
Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Settings des
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Rec dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Aeronautical adv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book The Shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells (London, 1933).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Ballet for Children," "March," "Prologue and Epilogue Music" and "Things to Come" by Arthur Bliss.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
H. G. Wells' Things to Come
Release Date:
18 April 1936
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 20 Feb 1936; New York premiere: 17 Apr 1936; Hollywood premiere: 2 May 1936
Production Date:
13089
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
London Film Productions, Ltd.
4 May 1936
LP6320
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
96,99 or 110
Length(in reels):
10
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
0803
SYNOPSIS

On Christmas in 1940, as news of world war spreads across Everytown, scientist John Cabal prophesizes: "If we don't end war, war will end us." The war continues until 1966, when, in the wake of social breakdown, a contagious disease called the "wandering sickness" has spread throughout the world. The disease places its victims in a feverish catatonic state that causes them to walk aimlessly through towns, spreading the disease. While Dr. Harding works to find a cure, a war lord who calls himself "the Boss," orders the sick who wander into the streets to be shot. By May Day of 1970, the pestilence has ended due to the Boss's brutal efforts, and Everytown has been reduced to a primitive society that lives under his tyranny. The Boss has ordered his master mechanic, Richard Gordon, to build airplanes in order to fight the town's exiles, who live in the hills. Gordon insists that "civilization is dead," however, and that "flying is finished." Cabal then arrives in an airplane and informs Harding and Gordon of his Brotherhood of Efficiency, which is made up of old engineers and mechanics who are the "last trustees of civilization." Envoys of Cabal's World Communications, whose business is order and trade, want to replace war lords with a government ruled by law and sanity. The Boss imprisons Cabal, however, and continues his fight for "victorious peace," while World Communications spreads its influence over the Mediterranean. Gordon then secretly repairs Cabal's plane and escapes to Basra, a territory controlled by Cabal's united airmen, and a fleet of colossal planes descends on Everytown, releasing a sleeping ...

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On Christmas in 1940, as news of world war spreads across Everytown, scientist John Cabal prophesizes: "If we don't end war, war will end us." The war continues until 1966, when, in the wake of social breakdown, a contagious disease called the "wandering sickness" has spread throughout the world. The disease places its victims in a feverish catatonic state that causes them to walk aimlessly through towns, spreading the disease. While Dr. Harding works to find a cure, a war lord who calls himself "the Boss," orders the sick who wander into the streets to be shot. By May Day of 1970, the pestilence has ended due to the Boss's brutal efforts, and Everytown has been reduced to a primitive society that lives under his tyranny. The Boss has ordered his master mechanic, Richard Gordon, to build airplanes in order to fight the town's exiles, who live in the hills. Gordon insists that "civilization is dead," however, and that "flying is finished." Cabal then arrives in an airplane and informs Harding and Gordon of his Brotherhood of Efficiency, which is made up of old engineers and mechanics who are the "last trustees of civilization." Envoys of Cabal's World Communications, whose business is order and trade, want to replace war lords with a government ruled by law and sanity. The Boss imprisons Cabal, however, and continues his fight for "victorious peace," while World Communications spreads its influence over the Mediterranean. Gordon then secretly repairs Cabal's plane and escapes to Basra, a territory controlled by Cabal's united airmen, and a fleet of colossal planes descends on Everytown, releasing a sleeping "peace gas." The Boss then chokes on what he thinks is poison gas and dies. An orgy of technology continues until 2036, when Everytown has been transformed into a highly technical and efficient underground world city free from disease and war. Dissension still exists, however, and finds its leader in Theotocopulos, who believes the people are slaves to scientific progress. Hoping to prevent Oswald Cabal, John Cabal's great grandson, from sending his daughter Catherine and Horrie Passworthy to the moon in a space gun, Theotocopulos announces to the world his desire to end the scientific age, saying "progress is not living." The citizens cheer and then move en masse to destroy the space gun, which they say is a symbol of Oswald's scientific tyranny. Oswald is forced to launch the space gun early, and as it disappears into the atmosphere, Raymond Passworthy, Horrie's father, tells Oswald humanity yearns for an age of rest and happiness. Oswald, however, insists man must conquer "all the universe or nothing," and asks, "which shall it be?"

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.