Really good science fiction answers a really cool question that begins with “What If.”


Sadly, since Star Wars, science fiction his been thought to be spaceships flying through the galaxy or if we go back as far as the fifties, spaceships landing or attacking Earth.

Some really good science fiction doesn’t involve space, aliens or ray guns.

Time After Time takes off on two really great “What if” questions.

The first: What if H. G. Wells, instead of just writing “The Time Machine,” actually built one?

The second: What if Jack the Ripper used it to flee into the future, with H. G. Wells chasing him close behind?

Everything is plausible, and Director/Screenwriter Nicholas Meyer makes it so. He is helped by a cast that could hardly go wrong, though no one would’ve known it at the time.

Malcom McDowell had just shot “Caligula,” which became one of the biggest stinkers to hit the big screen. David Warner, best known at this point for literally losing his head in “The Omen,” was only cast after many other choices failed, including Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. Mary Steenburgen was just off starring with Jack Nicholson in “Goin’ South” and was a year away from winning an Oscar.

They all play brilliantly. McDowell convinces you that he IS H. G. Wells. Warner is the only Jack the Ripper I can ever think of to this very day. And Steenburgen gives this movie its heart and its cheering interest.

“Time After Time” didn’t break the Top 40 at the box office in 1979. Despite some great reviews, this film never found an audience, and even today it seems stuck in the seventies a bit much for a film with a message that would still be relevant today.

It has one of the longest foot chases I’ve ever seen, and some of the subplots along the way don’t lead anywhere.

But for a science fiction film, this film grabs you and doesn’t let go. When Jack the Ripper realizes how he was discovered and who led Wells to find him, it’s as spooky as any horror film. And unlike other films with stalking killers, you actually want the good guys to catch this one.

The dialogue is crisp and snappy. The performances are spot on perfect.

This is a film worth watching time after time.

The Highlight Reel

Like all great science fiction, this movie makes a statement about mankind that develops as a theme. It’s when H. G. Wells tracks down Jack the Ripper in his modern hotel room, and Jack explains that going back to his past wouldn’t fit. “The world has caught up with me and surpassed me,” Jack explains. “Ninety years ago I was a freak. Today I’m an amateur.” Says it all.


1970s | Malcolm McDowell | Nicholas Meyer | Science Fiction
Time After Time Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller | 112min | September 28, 1979 (United States) 7.1
Director: Nicholas MeyerWriter: Karl Alexander, Steve Hayes, Nicholas MeyerStars: Malcolm McDowell, Mary Steenburgen, David WarnerSummary: It's 1893 London. Futurist H.G. Wells believes that the future holds a Utopian society. He also believes in time travel. He has just built a time machine which he is displaying to a group of skeptical friends, including surgeon Dr. John Leslie Stevenson. Unbeknown to Wells or anyone else among that circle, Stevenson is better known to the public as Jack the Ripper. Just as the police are about to capture Stevenson, he uses the time machine to escape, with Wells being the only one who knows what happened to him. Not telling anyone except his trusting housekeeper, Wells follows Stevenson in order to capture and bring him back to face justice. Where Stevenson has gone is 1979 San Francisco. There, Wells is dismayed to find that the future is not Utopia as he had predicted. But Wells is also picked up by a young woman named Amy Robbins. As Wells and Amy search for Stevenson, Stevenson conversely is after Wells to obtain the master key to the time machine. As Stevenson continues his murderous ways, he will stop at nothing to achieve his desires, which places Amy in danger. —Huggo

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