The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

PG | 102 mins | Science fiction, Drama | 3 August 1984

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HISTORY

A 30 Nov 1983 Var production chart indicated that principal photography began 28 Nov 1983. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, location filming took place in Charleston, SC, Wendover, UT, Salt Lake City, UT, and Los Angeles, CA. In Charleston, which represented “Philadelphia” in the film, the production used the 1943 destroyer USS Laffey to stand in for the USS Eldridge. After being decommissioned in 1975, the Laffey was put on permanent display in 1981 at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The production also dressed several Charleston streets with 1940s vehicles and included the following city landmarks: the Cooper River Bridge, Charleston Harbor, the William Enston Home cottages, and the USS Yorktown. Following a week in Charleston, the production relocated to the UT desert, near the Bonneville Salt Flats, and shot the majority of the special effects sequences at the defunct Wendover airbase. Next, the production visited Salt Lake City for three days before moving to CA, where filming completed on 4 Feb 1984.
       A 26 Oct 1983 Var item mentioned that the budget was $9 million.
       A sequel, The Philadelphia Experiment II, was released in 1993, with an entirely new cast. A remake, also titled The Philadelphia Experiment, was released in 2012 as a television movie, and featured actor Michael Paré in a different role.
       A statement appears before the title card: “In 1943, the U.S. Navy conducted a series of tests to render allied ships invisible to enemy radar. The results of these tests have never been made ... More Less

A 30 Nov 1983 Var production chart indicated that principal photography began 28 Nov 1983. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, location filming took place in Charleston, SC, Wendover, UT, Salt Lake City, UT, and Los Angeles, CA. In Charleston, which represented “Philadelphia” in the film, the production used the 1943 destroyer USS Laffey to stand in for the USS Eldridge. After being decommissioned in 1975, the Laffey was put on permanent display in 1981 at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The production also dressed several Charleston streets with 1940s vehicles and included the following city landmarks: the Cooper River Bridge, Charleston Harbor, the William Enston Home cottages, and the USS Yorktown. Following a week in Charleston, the production relocated to the UT desert, near the Bonneville Salt Flats, and shot the majority of the special effects sequences at the defunct Wendover airbase. Next, the production visited Salt Lake City for three days before moving to CA, where filming completed on 4 Feb 1984.
       A 26 Oct 1983 Var item mentioned that the budget was $9 million.
       A sequel, The Philadelphia Experiment II, was released in 1993, with an entirely new cast. A remake, also titled The Philadelphia Experiment, was released in 2012 as a television movie, and featured actor Michael Paré in a different role.
       A statement appears before the title card: “In 1943, the U.S. Navy conducted a series of tests to render allied ships invisible to enemy radar. The results of these tests have never been made public. The final test, which resulted in the project’s termination, has come to be known as…”
       End credits include the following information: “Filmed in Hollywood at Laird International Studios/GMT Studios and on location in Charleston, South Carolina, Salt Lake City, Utah, Wendover, Utah”; and “The producers wish to thank the following for their cooperation: Patriots Point Development Authority; South Carolina Film Commission; Utah State Film Commission; City of Wendover, Utah.”
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1984
p. 4, 28.
Los Angeles Times
3 Aug 1984
Section F, p. 4.
New York Times
17 Aug 1984
p. 17.
Variety
26 Oct 1983.
---
Variety
30 Nov 1983.
---
Variety
1 Aug 1984
p. 13.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-Starring:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
New World Pictures and Cinema Group Present
A Douglas Curtis Production
In Association With New Pictures Group
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Best boy grip
Best boy elec
Best boy elec
Elec
Generator tech
Still photog
Still photog
2d unit photog
2d unit asst cam
Best boy grip, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Best boy elec, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Grip, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Grip, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Elec, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Elec, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Elec, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Elec, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Elec, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Elec, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Grip, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Grip, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Grip, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Cam systems by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Visual consultant
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Supv ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Prop asst
Set dec
Lead set dresser
Const coord, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Lead set dresser, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah
Lead set dresser, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah
Carpenter, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
COSTUMES
Costumer
Asst ward
Ward asst, Charleston, South Carolina crew
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Dial ed
A.D.R.
Sd eff
Sd apprentice
Sd apprentice
Foley artist
Foley artist
Mixer-dial
[Sd] eff
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec eff coord
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Spec eff tech
Title des
Visual eff prod, Visual eff crew
Visual eff supv, Visual eff crew
Opt supv, Visual eff crew
Line-up, Visual eff crew
Printer op, Visual eff crew
Printer op, Visual eff crew
Motion control art dir, Visual eff crew
Visual eff photog, Visual eff crew
Visual eff photog, Visual eff crew
Visual eff cam op, Visual eff crew
Visual eff stage asst, Visual eff crew
Visual eff stage asst, Visual eff crew
Spec rigging, Visual eff crew
Spec rigging, Visual eff crew
Asst to prod, Visual eff crew
Ed asst, Visual eff crew
Prod asst, Visual eff crew
Computer graphics, Visual eff crew
Time lapse photog, Visual eff crew
Addl opt composites
Opticals
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod coord
Prod auditor
Scr supv
Casting asst
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Unit pub
Prod secy
Asst auditor
Caterer
Caterer, Proud Chef
Caterer, Proud Chef
Craft services
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Completion guarantor
Completion guarantor, The Completion Bond Company
Tech adv
Tech adv, Real World Ltd.
Voice casting
South Carolina film commission, Charleston, South
Loc mgr, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Transportation capt, Charleston, South Carolina cr
Prod secy, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Driver, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Driver, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Driver, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Honeywagon driver, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Prod asst, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Prod asst, Charleston, South Carolina crew
Loc mgr, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Casting, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Prod secy, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Driver, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Driver, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Driver, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Driver, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Mechanic, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
Prod asst, Wendover & Salt Lake City, Utah crew
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
ANIMATION
Anim, Visual eff crew
Anim, Visual eff crew
Anim, Visual eff crew
Anim cam op, Visual eff crew
Anim asst, Visual eff crew
Anim asst, Visual eff crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Eastman col by
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"In The Mood," music by Joe Garland, published by Shapiro, Bernstein and Co., Inc.
"Memories Of You," music by Eubie Blake, words by Andy Razaf, published by Shapiro, Bernstein and Co., Inc.
"I'll Never Smile Again," by Ruth Lowe, published by MCA Music, A Division of MCA Inc.
+
SONGS
"In The Mood," music by Joe Garland, published by Shapiro, Bernstein and Co., Inc.
"Memories Of You," music by Eubie Blake, words by Andy Razaf, published by Shapiro, Bernstein and Co., Inc.
"I'll Never Smile Again," by Ruth Lowe, published by MCA Music, A Division of MCA Inc.
"The Runner," by Ian Thomas, published by Mark-Cain Music, performed by Manfred Mann.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
3 August 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 3 August 1984
New York opening: 17 August 1984
Production Date:
28 November 1983--4 February 1984
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Prints
Prints by CFI
Duration(in mins):
102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27470
SYNOPSIS

U.S. Navy sailors and childhood friends, David Herdeg and Jim Parker, are stationed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during 1943. As part of a top-secret military experiment, they report for duty on the destroyer USS Eldridge where they are in charge of special generators developed by scientist Dr. James Longstreet to deflect radar. As the destroyer sails into Philadelphia harbor, Longstreet monitors the test from an aircraft carrier docked at base and gives instructions to activate the generators, then power up the energy field. The officers on the aircraft carrier are amazed as the Eldridge disappears from radar, a breakthrough that will give the Americans a distinct advantage in the war. However, an unintended consequence occurs when the destroyer vanishes. A panicked Longstreet orders the Eldridge to shut down the generators, but there is no communication with the destroyer. Meanwhile, David and Jim flee from the special equipment room when the generators appear on the verge of exploding. As a strange energy field pervades the destroyer and its crew, David and Jim jump overboard. However, instead of falling into water, they spin through a time-travel vortex. The two sailors land in a small, uninhabited Nevada town at night and immediately pursued by gunfire from a helicopter. They run toward a security fence, which sparks and catches fire when David and Jim touch it. The resulting explosion destroys the helicopter, while the two sailors escape unharmed. At sunrise, they find themselves in a desert. ... +


U.S. Navy sailors and childhood friends, David Herdeg and Jim Parker, are stationed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during 1943. As part of a top-secret military experiment, they report for duty on the destroyer USS Eldridge where they are in charge of special generators developed by scientist Dr. James Longstreet to deflect radar. As the destroyer sails into Philadelphia harbor, Longstreet monitors the test from an aircraft carrier docked at base and gives instructions to activate the generators, then power up the energy field. The officers on the aircraft carrier are amazed as the Eldridge disappears from radar, a breakthrough that will give the Americans a distinct advantage in the war. However, an unintended consequence occurs when the destroyer vanishes. A panicked Longstreet orders the Eldridge to shut down the generators, but there is no communication with the destroyer. Meanwhile, David and Jim flee from the special equipment room when the generators appear on the verge of exploding. As a strange energy field pervades the destroyer and its crew, David and Jim jump overboard. However, instead of falling into water, they spin through a time-travel vortex. The two sailors land in a small, uninhabited Nevada town at night and immediately pursued by gunfire from a helicopter. They run toward a security fence, which sparks and catches fire when David and Jim touch it. The resulting explosion destroys the helicopter, while the two sailors escape unharmed. At sunrise, they find themselves in a desert. Jim speculates they are hallucinating as part of the experiment, but David believes a serious malfunction has occurred. Meanwhile, the elderly Dr. James Longstreet inspects the desert area after conducting a radar deflection experiment similar to one in 1943. Longstreet’s assistant, Barney, is shocked that their test subject, the uninhabited Nevada town, has inexplicably disappeared. Longstreet observes a metal pole on the ground, which was not previously there. Back at his office, the scientist identifies the pole as the mast of the Eldridge. Arriving at a roadside diner, David and Jim stare at a television and look around in amazement at how people are dressed. David attempts to telephone the Philadelphia Naval Base, but no one recognizes the name of his commander. Outside, a lightning storm is on the horizon, and Jim experiences a painful throbbing in his hands. He backs into the diner’s video game machines, causing them to spark and malfunction. Demanding that Jim pay for the machines, the owner of the diner aims a gun, but David quickly confiscates the weapon and commandeers a car belonging to Allison Hayes. Since David is not familiar with automatic transmission, he orders Allison to drive. She is further baffled when the two strangers appear ignorant that the year is 1984 and that the U.S. won World War II. Meanwhile, Dr. Longstreet and his colleagues try to understand why the town has failed to rematerialize, and they track the unusual lightning storms in the area. Major Clark reports to Longstreet that he is looking for two unknown men, who breached security at the town test site. Along the highway, local police apprehend David and Jim for kidnapping, but Allison does not believe her abductors are criminals and refuses to press charges. Jim’s condition worsens, and he is hospitalized with severe seizures. Although reluctant to talk at first, David is worried about his friend and explains to attending physician, Dr. Magnussen, that he and Jim participated in a classified military experiment involving radar deflection. When David says they were somehow moved across time from 1943, the doctor appears skeptical. Magnussen and David are both dumbfounded when Jim is overcome by seizures and disappears in a flurry of electrical sparks. David flees the hospital as military police arrive and, once again, relies on a trusting Allison to help him escape. Together, they drive to David and Jim’s hometown, Santa Paula, California. Storms continue to gather around the test site of the disappeared town, and Dr. Longstreet informs Barney that the experiment inadvertently opened up a vortex that is pulling air toward it, like a vacuum. The military sends a missile probe into the hole, and the video reveals that the Eldridge is stuck in the vortex, along with the Nevada town. Dr. Longstreet interviews Dr. Magnussen, who identifies David Herdeg and Jim Parker from a 1943 photograph, confirming Longstreet’s suspicions that his 1943 experiment has somehow collided with this one in 1984. As the vortex grows, Barney estimates it will endanger the entire planet. In Santa Paula, David and Allison arrive at a ranch, which still belongs to Jim Parker’s family, and greet Jim’s wife, Pamela Parker. Now in her sixties, Pamela stares in amazement at the young David she knew in 1943, and suddenly realizes that her husband was telling the truth all these years about time travel, but everyone considered him deranged. She reveals that Jim survived the Philadelphia experiment in 1943 and is still alive, while other sailors on the Eldridge were burned or died. However, David never came back. David walks outside to say hello to Jim, but the old man is unable to face the trauma again and shuns his friend. As Allison and David leave, military police pursue them. When one of the police vehicles crashes, David finds documents inside the car naming Dr. Longstreet as the person in charge of the Nevada town experiment. David and Allison hitch a ride and return to Nevada to find Longstreet. Along the way, Allison reveals her feelings for David, and the two kiss. As they get closer to the vortex, David begins to experience the same painful symptoms that affected Jim. At Longstreet’s home, David abducts one of the scientist’s colleagues at gunpoint and forces him to take them to the secured military base where Longstreet is working. David charges onto the base, as storms batter the facility. In the control room, he confronts Longstreet, and the scientist shows him video of the Eldridge and the Nevada town trapped in the vortex. Longstreet explains that the electro-magnetic fields of the 1943 and 1984 experiments must have cross-connected to create a hole in the space-time continuum, and David fell through it. Longstreet tells David he must return to the destroyer in order to close the vortex. According to interviews conducted with the Eldridge sailors in 1943, the ship reappeared after David shut down the generators. Before returning, David says an emotional goodbye to Allison. Wearing an astronaut-like suit, he is positioned directly under the vortex and sucked into the whirling black hole. David lands back on the destroyer and uses an axe to destroy the generator, allowing the Eldridge, its crew, and Jim to reappear in 1943. Instead of remaining in 1943, David jumps overboard once again. After the control room video confirms that David successfully closed the vortex, Allison drives to the Nevada town, which has also rematerialized, and finds David waiting for her. +

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

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