Short Attention Span Theatre

on February 04, 2009 by Steve Simels

Okay, it isn't quite The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), but it is a real gift for genre fans.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Beyond the Time Barrier: The Ten Minute Version.

Seriously -- it's the original sci-fi classic edited (by whom, no man can say!) down to a breathless eight minutes or so plus trailer. And somehow it works.

Directed by the great Edgar G. Ulmer a/k/a The Poet of Poverty Row, Beyond the Time Barrier is a B drive-in flick made to cash in on the success of George Pal's much more lavish The Time Machine (1960). Shot in the same breakneck two week period as its equally remarkable double bill companion The Amazing Transparent Man, it's fairly standard cautionary sci-fi hokum, but it nevertheless displays lots of Ulmer's trademark Expressionist visual flair -- the scenes of the futuristic dungeons and the bald-headed mutants that inhabit them are basically a road show version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, a film Ulmer always claimed to have worked on (although no one's ever been able to prove it). Ulmer filmed a lot of BTTB at the site of the 1959 Texas State Fair in Dallas, making use of several leftover Space Age exhibits to great effect as you can see; he also made good use of star Robert Clarke (the hero of his earlier sci-fi classic The Man From Planet X), and Vladimir Sokoloff (a familiar face from countless Warner Bros. films of the 30s and 40s) is wonderful in the role of a post-Apocalypse patriarch.

In contemplating Ulmer's career, of course, it is always amusing to recall that after a huge big budget success with the classic Boris Karloff-Bela Lugosi vehicle The Black Cat in 1934, the director was essentially blackballed from the major Hollywood studios for life because he was briefly boinking the wife of Universal's chairman's nephew.

In any case, if the truncated version above has piqued your interest, you can order the complete version -- in an apparently better looking print -- here.

Coming tomorrow: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's 442 minute avant-garde epic Our Hitler in the five minute edit that nearly drove Susan Sontag to suicide!


Tags: Beyond the Time Barrier, George Pal, The Time Machine, The Amazing Transparent Man, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Robert Clarke, The Man From Planet X, The Black Cat, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

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