On October 12, 802701, a time machine bearing actor Rod Taylor suddenly appeared in a fantastical landscape. It was a bad day for the Morlocks and a good day for the Eloi. And for a 17-year-old boy sitting in the balcony of the Coral Hills Theater, watching The Time Machine for the first time, a boy madly in love with the beautiful Weena, or rather 18-year-old actress Yvette Mimieux, it was a pure delight, accented by popcorn and Jujubes.
Outside the theater, August 1960 was rapidly becoming the past. Nixon and Kennedy were fighting for the presidency. Oscar Hammerstein was dying. Two dogs, Belka and Strelka, as well as forty mice, two rats, and a variety of plants were taking a joy ride on Sputnik 5. Cold War tensions were high. Francis Gary Powers, our downed U-2 pilot, was on trial in the Soviet Union. Fighting raged in the Congo. North Korea called for unification. Cuba nationalized U.S. assets in response to our embargo.
What better way to escape the tension and anxiety of the times, which we would later refer to as “the good old days,” than to read a good book or see a great movie. If you were reading anything in 1960, it was probably James Michener’s Hawaii, the year’s best seller. And if you wanted to escape the sweltering heat, there was no better place than the balcony of the Coral Hills Theater, especially if you were a 17-year-old boy and the movie starred Yvette Mimieux, high school homework be damned.
Plus, in 1960, a movie cost just 25 cents. The last time I went to the movies here in Atlanta I paid $7.50. Now, I’m not saying that The Time Machine was the best movie of all time, despite the fact that it won an Oscar for special effects, but for the money, I don’t think you’re going to find a movie today that’s thirty times better.
In fact, if I had a time machine, I’d gladly go back in time and plunk down a quarter to fast forward through time to the year 802701. I think Yvette would, too. After all, that was, is, and forever will be a pretty darn good year. If you don’t believe me, just wait and see.