Somewhere in Time (1980)

PG | 103 mins | Fantasy, Romance | 3 October 1980

Director:

Jeannot Szwarc

Producer:

Stephen Simon

Cinematographer:

Isidore Mankofsky

Editor:

Jeff Gourson

Production Designer:

Seymour Klate

Production Company:

Rastar
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HISTORY

       On 9 Jun 1975, Publishers Weekly announced that Stanley Shpetner Productions and the American Broadcasting Co. purchased film rights to Richard Matheson’s novel, Bid Time Return (1975), for $70,000 plus five percent of the profits. Three years later, a 23 Jun 1978 HR item suggested that the property had since begun development at Rastar under senior vice president Stephen Deutsch, who decided to vacate his position in order to personally oversee production. According to the Sep 1980 issue of Box, Deutsch fell in love with the story after the novel won the World Fantasy Award in 1976. Director Jeannot Szwarc joined the project in attempt to distance himself from the special effects-heavy films he was offered after Jaws 2 (1978, see entry), and a distribution deal was signed with Universal Pictures.
       A 28 Mar 1979 DV item reported that the title had been changed to Somewhere in Time. A 3 May 1979 DV brief indicated that Max von Sydow was originally intended to play the role of “W. F. Robinson,” which eventually went to Christopher Plummer.
       Production materials in AMPAS library files note some of the script’s departures from Matheson’s novel, including the decision to remove “Richard Collier’s” fatal illness, therefore eliminating the character’s motive to meet “Elise McKenna” in a way that filmmakers felt was more “romantic.” Action of the novel took place at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA, but the Victorian structure and its surroundings had since been outfitted with antennae and cables that could not be removed for sequences set in the early 20th century. Although beach ... More Less

       On 9 Jun 1975, Publishers Weekly announced that Stanley Shpetner Productions and the American Broadcasting Co. purchased film rights to Richard Matheson’s novel, Bid Time Return (1975), for $70,000 plus five percent of the profits. Three years later, a 23 Jun 1978 HR item suggested that the property had since begun development at Rastar under senior vice president Stephen Deutsch, who decided to vacate his position in order to personally oversee production. According to the Sep 1980 issue of Box, Deutsch fell in love with the story after the novel won the World Fantasy Award in 1976. Director Jeannot Szwarc joined the project in attempt to distance himself from the special effects-heavy films he was offered after Jaws 2 (1978, see entry), and a distribution deal was signed with Universal Pictures.
       A 28 Mar 1979 DV item reported that the title had been changed to Somewhere in Time. A 3 May 1979 DV brief indicated that Max von Sydow was originally intended to play the role of “W. F. Robinson,” which eventually went to Christopher Plummer.
       Production materials in AMPAS library files note some of the script’s departures from Matheson’s novel, including the decision to remove “Richard Collier’s” fatal illness, therefore eliminating the character’s motive to meet “Elise McKenna” in a way that filmmakers felt was more “romantic.” Action of the novel took place at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, CA, but the Victorian structure and its surroundings had since been outfitted with antennae and cables that could not be removed for sequences set in the early 20th century. Although beach locations were considered in Maine and Vancouver, Canada, the script was rewritten for the Grand Hotel on the lakefront of Michigan’s Mackinac Island, which remained largely unchanged by modern technology. Because automobiles are prohibited from the island, the production received special permission to import cars for the scene in which Christopher Reeve’s character first drives up to the hotel. The remainder of the crew and equipment were transported by horse-buggy, while location changes were permitted only in the morning and at night.
       Following several reports of varying start dates, the 24 May 1979 DV announced that production began the first of three days in Chicago, IL. Principal photography continued for an additional seven weeks on Mackinac Island and concluded 20 Jul 1979, according to a DV item of the same date. A 20 Mar 1979 LAT news story noted that Reeve was obligated to immediately resume work on Superman II (1981, see entry), which had been on hiatus when he accepted his role in Somewhere in Time. Early the next year, the 16 Jan 1980 DV reported that Reeve completed looping sessions while shooting interior scenes for Superman II in London, England.
       Although earlier news items suggested a target budget of $4 million, Universal executive Verna Fields told the Sep 1980 issue of Box that unexpected cost inflation prompted her to hire crewmembers who were willing to work for scale. As a result, the picture was completed for roughly $6 million. According to the 13 Jun 1979 LAT, AMPAS and AFI Academy Internship Program participant John Golden was selected to work with director Jeannot Szwarc throughout production, but Golden does not receive onscreen credit.
       The 13 May 1980 DV stated that Somewhere in Time was well received by test audiences in Toronto, Canada, and Minneapolis, MN, and a 2 Oct 1980 DV article indicated that the film’s television publicity campaign emphasized positive feedback from its many sneak preview screenings. Universal invited 150 members of the press to stay at the Grand Hotel the weekend of 18-21 Sep 1980, but the 17 Sep 1980 Var stated that Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve were barred from attending the event and promoting the picture due to a Screen Actors Guild strike.
       The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.
       Despite overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and a brief theatrical run, Somwhere in Time has gained a substantial cult following since it began playing on cable television. According to the 23 Oct 1992 Chicago Tribune, a fan named Bill Shephard of Covina, CA, founded the International Network of Somewhere in Time Enthusiasts (INSITE), and began publishing a quarterly newsletter, reaching more than 800 members. Each Oct, INSITE members celebrate the film by traveling to the Grand Hotel for a weekend gathering that includes a costume ball, memorabilia sales, screenings of the film, and panel discussions with the cast and crew.
      End credits state: “We would like to express our gratitude to: Daniel Musser, John Hulett, and the staff of the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan, for the gracious use of their magnificent hotel.”; “Special thanks to the people of Mackinac Island, Michigan, for their friendship, patience and cooperation, and to Lucy Salenger, The Illinois Film Commission, and the people of Chicago, Illinois.”; and, “Filmed in its entirety on Mackinac Island, Michigan and Chicago, Illinois.”
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Mar 1979
p. 6.
Box Office
Sep 1980.
---
Chicago Tribune
23 Oct 1992.
---
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1979.
---
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1979.
---
Daily Variety
3 May 1979.
---
Daily Variety
24 May 1979.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1979.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1980.
---
Daily Variety
13 May 1980.
---
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 1979
p. 1, 24.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Sep 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Mar 1979
Section IV, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jun 1979.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Oct 1980
p. 1.
New York Times
3 Oct 1980
p. 14.
Publishers Weekly
9 Jun 1975.
---
Variety
17 Sep 1980.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1980
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Bill Erwin
W. H. Macy
Eight years later:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Rastar/Stephen Deutsch Production
A Jeannot Szwarc Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Gaffer
Key grip
Elec
Elec
Grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop man
Const coord
Set dressing
Set dressing
Set dressing
Set dressing
Set dressing
Set dressing
Const
Const
Const
Const
Const
Const
Const
COSTUMES
Men's costumer
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Orig mus comp and cond by
Mus ed
Rec mixer
SOUND
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd eff ed
Loop dial ed
Boom man
Sd rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Prod asst
Unit pub
Asst to the prod
Secy to the dir
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Transportation
Loc auditor
Asst loc auditor
Projectionist
First aid
Craft service
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (New York, 1975).
SONGS
"Rachmaninoff Rhapsody On A Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, Variation XVIII, Andante Cantabile," courtesy Belwin Mills Publishing Corp.
End Title Theme "Somewhere In Time," performed by Roger Williams.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Bid Time Return
Release Date:
3 October 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 3 October 1980
Production Date:
24 May--20 July 1979
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
3 October 1980
Copyright Number:
PA84963
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color and Fujicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25953
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In May 1972, Millfield College student Richard Collier celebrates the successful debut performance of his first play. During the afterparty, an elderly woman emerges from the crowd to give him a pocket watch and whispers, “Come back to me,” before returning to her residence at the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. Listening to a record of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini,” she peacefully reclines in her rocking chair clutching a copy of Richard’s play, Too Much Spring. Eight years later, Richard is an established playwright in Chicago, Illinois. After breaking up with his girl friend, he abandons his scenic apartment to embark on an aimless road trip that takes him to the Grand Hotel. Deciding to spend the night, he meets the bellhop, Arthur, who has been there since 1910. Although it is Richard’s first time at the hotel, Arthur remarks that the young man seems strangely familiar. While wandering the immense property, the playwright observes various historical artifacts from the hotel’s history, including an alluring portrait of a beautiful young woman. Arthur informs him that she is Elise McKenna, a famous stage actress who once starred in a play for the hotel’s lakeside theater back in 1912. Richard spends the remainder of the evening thinking about Elise, and opts to extend his stay at the hotel after visiting the local library to research her career. A rare photograph from the actress’s later years reveals that she was the same woman who approached him after his play at Millfield. He then finds Elise’s biographer, Laura Roberts, who explains the actress became uncharacteristically reclusive after her performance at the Grand ... +


In May 1972, Millfield College student Richard Collier celebrates the successful debut performance of his first play. During the afterparty, an elderly woman emerges from the crowd to give him a pocket watch and whispers, “Come back to me,” before returning to her residence at the Grand Hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island. Listening to a record of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini,” she peacefully reclines in her rocking chair clutching a copy of Richard’s play, Too Much Spring. Eight years later, Richard is an established playwright in Chicago, Illinois. After breaking up with his girl friend, he abandons his scenic apartment to embark on an aimless road trip that takes him to the Grand Hotel. Deciding to spend the night, he meets the bellhop, Arthur, who has been there since 1910. Although it is Richard’s first time at the hotel, Arthur remarks that the young man seems strangely familiar. While wandering the immense property, the playwright observes various historical artifacts from the hotel’s history, including an alluring portrait of a beautiful young woman. Arthur informs him that she is Elise McKenna, a famous stage actress who once starred in a play for the hotel’s lakeside theater back in 1912. Richard spends the remainder of the evening thinking about Elise, and opts to extend his stay at the hotel after visiting the local library to research her career. A rare photograph from the actress’s later years reveals that she was the same woman who approached him after his play at Millfield. He then finds Elise’s biographer, Laura Roberts, who explains the actress became uncharacteristically reclusive after her performance at the Grand Hotel, and died the same night she gave Richard the pocket watch. Curiously, Elise’s belongings also include a book about time travel, written by Richard’s former college professor, Dr. Gerald Finney, and a custom music box that plays his favorite Rachmaninoff song. Returning to Millfield, Richard asks Dr. Finney about the possibility of time travel, and the professor recalls an experience where he believed he was able to mentally “will” himself into the past. That night at the hotel, Richard dresses in turn-of-the-century clothing, removes all modern furnishings from the room, and records a message to himself on a tape recorder as if the date is June 27, 1912. He listens to the recording on a loop, but is unable to fully convince himself that he is living in that time period. Desperate, he asks Arthur to show him the attic where other hotel artifacts are stored, and finds an old guestbook with his signature, dated June 28, 1912. With more precise information, he hides the tape recorder and attempts the process again, this time causing the bedroom around him to transform. In the morning, Richard awakens in the past, and narrowly escapes the notice of the room’s contemporary occupants. Failing to find Elise in her suite, he visits the hotel’s bustling lobby, where he meets Arthur as a young boy, and eventually finds the actress walking alone along the lakefront. As their eyes meet, she asks, “Is it you?” Elise’s overbearing manager, William Fawcett “W. F.” Robinson, requests that Richard leave her alone. Undeterred, Richard sneaks to the crowded dining room and asks her to dance. When hotel staff escorts him away, Elise accompanies him outside to inquire how he knows so much about her. Although he identifies himself as a playwright, he insists that his interest in her is personal. That evening, Robinson discourages Richard’s attentions and coaches Elise for her upcoming performance. After spending the night on a patio bench, Richard returns to Elise’s room and convinces her to take a walk with him that afternoon. During breakfast, Robinson threatens Richard for continuing his pursuits, but the young man checks into a room at the hotel. Later, he meets Elise, and they decide to take a carriage ride to evade Robinson’s hawkish surveillance. Disregarding her rehearsal, the couple spend the afternoon together and quickly fall in love. When Richard asks about Elise’s initial question, “Is it you?” Elise explains that Robinson once predicted she would meet a man who would change her life. Insisting she must rest before the play, Elise returns to her room and hesitantly invites Richard inside. He kisses her, but just as she submits to her attraction, Robinson barges in. Furious with his repeated interruptions, Elise stands up to her manager. In the play that night, she plays the role of a woman betrothed against her wishes, and improvises an emotional and romantic monologue, directed at Richard, about finding the man of her dreams. Between acts, a photographer has Elise pose for the portrait from the hotel wall, which is taken while she gazes lovingly at Richard backstage. When the show resumes, Robinson summons Richard outside and declares his intentions to mold Elise into the greatest actress of her generation. Convinced Richard will interfere with that dream, he locks the young man in the hotel horse stable. Later, Elise tells Robinson that she loves Richard and vows to find him. However, with the theater company scheduled to depart directly for Denver, Colorado, she is forced to evacuate her room. The next morning, Richard escapes the stable believing that Elise has gone, but discovers she has stayed behind; they reunite on the hotel lawn before returning to his room to make love. After agreeing to marry, Elise teases Richard for his out-of-fashion suit. While modeling the garment, he pulls a penny dated “1979” from his pocket, and suddenly the illusion fades as he is transported back to present day. He awakens, sobbing, and becomes depressed by the realization that he cannot return. After many days of moping in his room, Arthur finds Richard catatonic and severely malnourished. Although he sends for an ambulance, Richard dies of a broken heart and reunites with Elise in heaven. +

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

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