Time After Time (1979)

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Nicholas Meyer directs Malcolm McDowell, David Warner and Mary Steenburgen in this time twisting romantic thriller where H.G. Wells uses his time machine to chase Jack the Ripper into the future.

A neat little film, using Disney-fied special effects of the time, to play about in a lot of genres. We get a psycho thriller that owes more to Holmes and Moriarty, as Wells tracks down his nemesis. The Zodiac killer is even mentioned and that doesn’t feel gratuitous. You get a subtle fish-out-of-water comedy as the stuffy yet game Wells (McDowell playing against type – heroic and restrained) experiences McDonalds, escalators and seventies fashions. And a very affecting romance as our anachronistic protagonist falls for a modern feminist bank worker. He and Steenburgen have a palpable chemistry, their instant attraction is believable and her life becoming part of the deadly cat and mouse game ups the stakes surprisingly in the final act. It is a film that has the weave and heft of a teatime family adventure yet the daring and grit of an adult entertainment. And while this might have made it a tough sell oddity at time of release, in now feels like a oddity worthy of mass rediscovery. If only for the sight of the always sinister Warner taking to coke and disco era San Francisco with denim clad relish.

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