So, I just gave the 1979 film Home Before Midnight a fairly negative review but I simply cannot end the 70s section of Embracing the Melodrama on such a negative note! So, before we move on to the 80s, allow me to suggest another film from 1979 that you could watch while you’re not watching Home Before Midnight!
Time After Time opens in London. The year is 1893. Writer H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) is having a dinner party so that he can show off his latest invention, a time machine. Among his guests is a surgeon named John Stevenson (David Warner). What nobody at the party suspects is that Stevenson also goes by the name Jack the Ripper and that he enjoys killing prostitutes. When a detective from Scotland Yard shows up at Wells’s home, Stevenson jumps into the time machine and escapes into the future. Since Stevenson does not have the “non-return key,” the machine returns back to 1893 but Stevenson has apparently escaped.
Wells uses the machine to pursue Stevenson and soon finds himself in 1979 San Francisco. Wells had expected to find that the future would be a utopia but instead, he discovers the world of 1979 is loud, polluted, violent, angry, and dangerous. (Kinda like the world of 2015…) As Wells pursues Stevenson, he struggles to adjust to the world of the “future,” and he also meets a bank clerk, Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen).
Time After Time is probably the sweetest movie ever made about Jack the Ripper and that’s largely because of the romance between both Wells and Amy and the two actors who played them. After watching Time After Time, I was not surprised to learn that McDowell and Steenburgen got married shortly after appearing in this film. They were so incredibly sweet together!
Add to that, considering the he’s best known for playing villains and other menacing types, it’s interesting to see Malcolm McDowell plays such a gentle and nice character. Wells’ befuddlement is charming to watch. There’s a great scene where Amy calls Wells on a landline phone and Wells stares down at the receiver in frightened amazement.
Time After Time is a really good and likable movie. It’s sweet and it proves that even hunting for Jack the Ripper can be a romantic experience if it’s done with the right person. Watch it and enjoy!