Somewhere in Time (1980)

Somewhere in Time (1980), directed by Jeannot Szwarc.

A time travel romance, leisurely paced and without many surprises if you're familiar with the genre, which is surprisingly popular. This one did not do well and the critics were unkind, but it has a small devoted fan base.

How goopy is it? Pretty goopy. Christopher Reeve is a 1980 playwright tearfully obsessed with the photo of 1912 actress Jane Seymour. The ageless Christopher Plummer is her manager and guard dog.

No time travel apparatus required; it's done with a hypnotic trance. Note the pocket watch, one of those paradoxical objects you find in time travel stories: there is no way for it to enter the plot. Timerider used a medallion, in both cases exchanged after sex. What's that mean?

As with most romances it has a girly orientation. Christopher Reeve was too gorgeous to invite much male empathy. His awkward boyishness is endearing to women in hunky men, but not in anyone else. Ditto his stalker-like behavior.

This suggests a topic: what sort of romance movie would appeal to men? Obviously men find the erotic to be romantic. As do women, after sufficient time, torment, and testing. But what sort of pre-sex plot would tug at the male heart?

I can think of a few offhand examples:

Pretty John Barry score, although syrupy Rachmaninoff often intrudes. Filmed on Mackinac Island, Michigan. No motor vehicles allowed. Fans still assemble in costume at the Grand Hotel there.

Grim quality 4:3 letterboxed DVD with director's commentary. He's still enthusiastic about the film and lavishes praise on everyone involved. He says present and past were filmed with different stock, which I hadn't noticed. The past is supposed to have a pastel, French Impressionist painting look. The studio cut his budget and he didn't have the final edit.

Later: available on Blu-ray.

I forgot to mention the great Teresa Wright in a supporting role, last seen in Mrs. Miniver (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) and Pursued (1947).

Screenplay by Richard Matheson from one of his books.

My thumbnails are from the DVD.