Did You Know ?
One of the most captivating
things fans cherish about Somewhere In Time, is that
the location in which it was filmed, is a real place, not just
sets built and then destroyed. Therefore, fans can visit
Mackinac Island and stand on the same spots as the characters,
effectively "living the movie" for a few days in
their own lives. It is enchanting, and very romantic
with its aura of the past, truly like traveling back in time.
The Somewhere In Time Weekends, when fans dress in
period attire to honor and celebrate the film, are the closest
thing to actual time travel as one can get.
Somewhere In Time
enjoys "Cult Classic" status. It is one of
only three single motion pictures which can boast of a fan
club dedicated entirely to it, and the other two, Gone With
The Wind, and Wizard of Oz are heady company, both
major hits when they were released.
Somewhere In Time is
one of the most rented films of its age and time. Many
people report that they have gone to their video store to rent
it, only to find it checked out, time after time. It
continues to sell on video among Universal's biggest
blockbuster movies, including E.T. and Jaws.
Richard Matheson was inspired
to write "Bid Time Return" after being mesmerized by
the portrait of famous actress, Maude Adams, hanging in the
Opera House in Virginia City, Nevada during a trip. When
he researched her, he found some interesting and mysterious
facts about her reclusive life, and wondered what may have
occurred in her life, thus the idea for his novel was born.
Matheson wrote "Bid Time
Return" primarily by playing Richard and
"living" the experience himself, while dictating
into a tape recorder. It was the first time he wrote in
this manner. He stayed several weeks at the Hotel Del
Coronado, San Diego, CA, the site of the story in his novel.
INSITE has offered his actual tapes on cassette in a slipcased
set for avid fans.
Somewhere In Time
received one Academy Award Nomination, for Best Costume
Design, but unfortunately lost to the movie, Tess, that year.
(Who remembers that film?) Costume Designer for SIT was
Jean-Pierre Dorleac, who created the designs for the principal
actors. He has said that Jane's costume from the play, the
diagonally layered white gown with generous crystal beading
cost $30,000. It was stolen before filming wrapped. The
extensive collections of costumes worn by the extras were
rented from several costume houses and from one woman who
traveled the world collecting vintage apparel.
R.D. Musser, owner of Grand
Hotel, offered the use of the Grand to Universal for free, in
exchange for a favorable depiction of the hotel, which became
one of the stars of the movie. All filming took place in
the height of the season, with the hotel fully booked.
The film company worked around the dining of paying guests,
filming the dining room during the night. Several times
the Parlor had to be changed from the present to the past in a
matter of hours, a nightmare for Set Decorator, Mary Ann
Biddle. Her work included supervising her staff in
laying Oriental rugs, placing furniture sets, and assembling
the entire Front Desk. Up until that year, the front desk was
where it was depicted in the film, but it had been relocated
to the lower level.
Somewhere In Time brought so many thousands of the
curious to Grand Hotel through the eighties, the hotel began
charging people merely to walk the property. They felt they
had to do something once they had skateboarders on the front
porch _especially in order maintain their guests' privacy and
high standard of operation. The fee began at $2.00 but is now
$10.00 and is closely regulated. However, your $10
visitor fee can go toward their wonderful Buffet Luncheon.
Mackinac Island does not allow
motorized vehicles and is traversed with horse and carriage
and bicycles only, a tradition which continues to draw about
90,000 visitors a year, who yearn to experience its charming
ambience of the past. There are about 500 year-round
residents. One other movie was filmed on Mackinac
Island, the 1947 Esther Williams film, "This Time for
Keeps", a mediocre movie, but is noteworthy for showing
rare winter scenes of the island.
Fans are amazed by the fact,
as was the film company, that a fully functional but dormant
studio production facility exists on Mackinac Island.
Formerly Mackinac College, it was built by the Moral
Re-Armament Movement after WWII, to make propaganda films.
The college had folded in the mid 1960's and lain empty until
1979, when the former dormitory was being made into an Inn.
It was here that the production staff made their base, among
the prop shop, carpenter shop, administration offices,
theatre, classrooms, warehouses for costumes, dressing and
make-up rooms, etc. The enormous sound stage was used
for all interior shots: Elise's and Richard's rooms both
past and present, the attic, the hallway, and the "limbo
set" at the end. The cast and crew stayed in the
dorm rooms, still plain and antiquated in decor. This
facility was unknown to the production staff, until they
visited the island to scout the location of Grand Hotel and
Every setting required by Somewhere
In Time's script was found on Mackinac Island. They
needed a college campus, a magnificent hotel, a theatre with a
stage, and of course, horses and carriages, as well as the
lakeshore. Kismet? Serendipity? You bet.
Not one frame of film was shot in Los Angeles. Somewhere
in Time was filmed entirely on Mackinac Island, except for 4
days in Chicago, where Richard's apartment, the Library scene
and of course, the driving shot on Lake Shore Drive was
Lighting equipment, props, set
dressings, and costumes for principals and myriad extras, were
caravanned across the country from Los Angeles to Michigan in
large semi-trailer trucks. At St. Ignace, the
semi-trailers were placed on barges for transport to the
island. The State Parks Commission, which is the ruling body,
was petitioned to allow the moving of the trailers on the
island. Permission was granted, with the provision that
the trucks could not go faster than a person could walk, and
to keep this rule, a man would walk in front of the trucks
whenever they were moved to the various locations. Most
of this transport was done before dawn and after midnight so
as not to interfere with bicycle and carriage traffic.
While Somewhere In Time
was trounced by jaded critics, the fans knew better, and the
film found its own audience, despite being in theatres for
only 3 weeks, or less in some areas. It did its own
marketing, by word of mouth, and via the medium of cable,
which started showing the film when cable stations were brand
new avenues of film offering. Cable stations found
themselves deluged with letters, asking for the movie to be
run again, and again. Consequently, the studio belatedly
realized how much the movie was loved.
Somewhere In Time was
used by Universal to test the market for Soundtrack sales,
once the movie hit cable. An article in "Variety" in
`81 said studios had expected that soundtrack sales were
basically over after a movie finished its theatrical release,
and did not expect cable showings to have impact. But
with SIT, the music stores were so overwhelmed with requests
for the soundtrack, that 50,000 more album pressings had to be
done to satisfy the initial need. Thus Universal used
SIT as a barometer, on all cable stations then in existence,
for post-theatre impact a soundtrack could generate.
The music soundtrack for Somewhere
In Time, by John Barry, is his all-time best selling
score, outselling all his other soundtracks put together.
The production could not afford John Barry, and did not
approach him to be composer until Jane Seymour, a longtime
friend of the Barry's, offered to get John involved.
Impressed with the story, he was pleased to be part of the
production, but his fee was an issue. He accepted a
percentage of soundtrack sales for the first time in his
career. It turned out to be a fortuitous move, because
the soundtrack still sells impressively throughout the world.
Somewhere In Time was a
huge hit in the Orient! It ran in The Palace Theatre in
Hong Kong continuously for 18 months to crowds lined up to see
it. The SIT Website has received messages from fans in
Singapore, the Phillipines, Peoples Republic of China,
Indonesia, Taiwan and Japan. SIT is so beloved in Japan,
the famous all-woman theatre group, Takarazuka Revue (which
has a fan club of 70,000) produced a stage musical of the
story, incorporating details from both Matheson's novel and
Out of 9 or 10 starring roles
in scripts offered him after the first Superman film,
Christopher Reeve chose to do Somewhere In Time,
because of the emotional challenge it afforded him. SIT had a
much smaller budget than the others, and far less to offer him
for the role but he chose it despite his agent's strong urging
Jane Seymour came for her
audition/reading for Elise wearing a 1912 era gown and hairdo
and basically said, 'I am Elise McKenna and I have to play
this part.' Dozens of actresses read for the coveted role.
Jane has one green eye and one brown eye, and her real name is
Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenburg.
SIT was the first film to be
photographed using two different film stocks, for the purpose
of enhancing the contrast between two different time periods.
Present scenes were shot using Eastman/Kodak stock for its
realism, and 1912 scenes utilized Fujifilm stock, for its
softer, almost sepia tones, suggested by Cinematographer Izzy
Mankofsky. A pastel palette was used exclusively for
past scenes to enhance this effect. Also, 1912
scenes favored the use of wide angle lenses, whereas present
shots used longer lenses (telephoto). Director Szwarc felt
this, too, would enhance the time period variations.
A huge wrap party was thrown
on the lawn of Grand Hotel following the completion of seven
weeks of filming in mid July. The entire cast and crew,
numbering about 70 people, had a glorious picnic and many of
them ended up in the pool, fully clothed, including Jeannot
Szwarc, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Susan French
(Elderly Elise) removed her silk outfit so as not to ruin it
before jumping in, in her underclothes.