Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I watched JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME (1967) this afternoon. Who knew time had a center? Who knew it would look so cheap?

This micro-budget turkey has elements of STAR TREK (the time machine set resembles a $1.98 version of the bridge of the Enterprise) and THE TIME TUNNEL (scientists lost in time). It has none of the spark, creativity and imagination of either of those series.

Shot on a bare, stark sound stage, there are minimalist sets, poor lighting and the barest of props. Most of the action occurs off screen and is conveyed through dialogue. Stock footage from various other films (and real newsreel footage) is used extensively as the scientists journey to the far future and the distant past. In the future, they meet some aliens who have come to earth in the midst of an atomic war. One of the aliens is Lyle Waggoner (of THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW and WONDER WOMAN). In the distant past, the age of dinosaurs is represented by some potted palms and a couple of monitor lizards.

The leading players have all appeared in countless other films and television shows. Scott Brady, Anthony Eisley, Gigi Perreau and Abraham Sofaer give it their best but they can only do so much when so little money has been spent on their behalf. The script is loaded with scientific double-talk and the film is woodenly paced, staged and shot.

The print I watched was horribly washed out and badly faded but this film didn't look good in 1967 so I didn't miss much. There was high contrast in some scenes which made it difficult to figure out exactly what I was looking at. With a larger budget and more component talent both in front of and behind the camera, this could have been a good little B-movie. The ideas are there: scientists journey to the future, the past and back to the present where (and when) they become unstuck in time and are doomed to wander the time stream for all of eternity never knowing where or when they'll end up next. That was the basic premise of Irwin Allen's THE TIME TUNNEL television series, a show I loved when I was a kid.

Bottom line on this one: don't take this journey.

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