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Somewhere in Time

Somewhere in Time title card

Year - 1980
Studio - Universal
Stars - Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, Teresa Wright, Bill Erwin, Susan French, George Voskovec
Director - Jeannot Szwarc
Writing Credits - Richard Matheson (novel, Bid Time Return and screenplay)
Music - John Barry


Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) is celebrating his play, "Too Much Spring", at a Millfield College backstage cast party. An old woman (Susan French) appears out of the shadows, places an antique pocket watch into his hands, and whispers "Come back to me."

Several years later, Collier is a successful playwright but, suffering from writer's block, drives off from his Chicago flat to get away from it all. He finds an interesting looking Grand Hotel and decides to check in. Wandering about the ancient hotel, he visits a "Hall of History" where he sees a portrait of a beautiful woman: the picture holds a strange fascination for him but he doesn't know why. He inquires about the woman's identity with Arthur (Bill Erwin), the hotel bellman, who informs him that she was a famous early 20th century actress, Elise McKenna, and that had performed in the hotel's theatre in 1912. Intrigued, he goes to the local library to research the actress and, in an old theatre magazine, sees a picture of her as an old woman—it is the same woman who put the pocket watch into his hands years ago.

Now obsessed with the mystery of the actress, he pays a visit to Laura Roberts (Teresa Wright) who, as Elise McKenna's companion, wrote about her life. At first defensive, Laura invites Collier into her home when he shows her the pocket watch. Among her display of Elise's possessions is a book, Travels Through Time, which she read "over and over." Coincidentally, the book was written by one of Collier's college professors, Dr. Finney, and he visits the professor at Millfield College and asks, "Is time travel possible?" Finney (George Voskovec) describes his experiments in time travel through a self hypnosis process.

Somewhere in Time poster

Collier becomes determined to time travel to 1912 and prepares by buying an turn-of-the-century suit and old currency, and removes items from his Grand Hotel room that would remind him of the present. He records a tape that plays over and over, "It is 1912, Elise McKenna is in the hotel....". At first nothing happens but, ultimately, he falls into a restful sleep and wakes to the sound of horse hooves outside. It is the year 1912 and he begins his search in the hotel for Elise.

Members of the theatrical troupe protectively refuse to reveal her location to Collier until a flirtatious actress (Eddra Gale) informs he that she is likely down by the lake. He sees her walking alone in the distance and approaches her cautiously. As he finally stands before the object of his quest, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour) looks at him curiously and asks, "Is it you?" Their moment is interrupted by her gruff manager, William Fawcett Robinson (Christopher Plummer) who begins to escort Elise back to the hotel for dinner, then returns to warn Collier to stop annoying the actress.

At dinner, Collier cuts in on Elise on the dance floor and tries to convince her of his sincerity. Robinson again interrupts and has him escorted from the dining room. Early the the next morning, Collier awakes Elise and, after his pleading, she agrees to walk with him that afternoon. They spend the afternoon together walking about the hotel grounds. Elise confides that Robinson had psychically warned her that a man would enter her life and change it forever. They return to her room and embrace, again interrupted by an angry Robinson. Elise advises Robinson to mind her own business and invites Richard to attend her performance that evening.

As Collier is enjoying Elise in "Wisdom of the Heart" she departs from the script and delivers a soliloquy about the "man of my dreams", clearly meaning Richard. An usher hands Richard a note that tells him to meet Robinson in the gazebo outside the theatre. There, Robinson warns him that her career is paramount and that he must forget her. Collier argues that he, too, wants her to succeed as an actress, but they cannot agree. As he leaves the gazebo, Collier is ambushed by Robinson's thugs. Later, he awakes, tied up in the hotel stable. Freeing himself, he rushes back to the hotel, only to find that the troupe has departed. As he stands despondently in front of the hotel, Elise appears in the distance, having refused to leave without him.

They experience a night of love and, the next morning, prepare for a breakfast on the floor of Elise's room. Collier absent-mindedly removes some coins from his suit pocket, among which is a 1979 penny. The shock of seeing it, propels Collier back through time to the present, Elise screaming "Richard!" as he disappears.

He awakens in 1979 and desperately tries to will himself back to 1912, but it is hopeless. He sits catatonic in his room for days until he is discovered by Arthur and the hotel staff, but it is too late.

As he dies, his spirit rises to the ceiling, passes through the window into an all-white world where Elise stands, smiling and hand outstretched to him. Collier enters the scene, again in his 1912 apparel, and they join hands in eternity.

Show Spoilers


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