After arranging a meeting of the minds for Sherlock Holmes & Sigmund Freud in THE SEVEN PERCENT SOLUTION/’76, Nicholas Meyer’s next project had Jack the Ripper evade the police by fleeing to the future in H. G. Wells’ Time Machine. Then, in this intense and clever thriller, sending H. G. himself to present day San Francisco to catch him. Malcolm McDowell’s droll Wells, David Warner’s unnerving ‘Ripper’ and Mary Steenburgen’s up-to-date modern love interest bring plenty of charm, suspense & romance. But whereas Meyer only wrote SOLUTION, here he co-scripted and made a sub-par directing debut. A stronger D.P. might have helped (Paul Lohmann’s over-lit interiors & general lack of style is default Movie-of-the-Week); or better third act plotting to carry us past the weak points. Faults and all, it's still good fun. Steenburgen is a particular treat, with a delivery reminiscent of Jean Arthur; plus a swell throwback of a score from Miklós Rózsa (check out that love theme in the woods). Meyer’s next was the much-loved STAR TREK II/’82, but his directing skills never did get catch up to his writing, and gigs remained frustratingly elusive with a mere six features on his C.V. up till now.
DOUBLE-BILL: George Pal’s toylike THE TIME MACHINE/’60 makes for a nifty compare-and-contrast, but a more enlightened pairing, with many of this film’s problems corrected, would be John Carpenter’s STARMAN/’84.
CONTEST: When a flat tire adds suspense to a chase, Steenburgen does something unnecessary to gain help. Name it to win a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up on a DVD of your choice.