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 grounds.

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 filmed.

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 the film.

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 against it.

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.