Top 15 Moments in Somewhere in Time

As promised, the second part of my “fave movie” blog series. {Ain’t ya glad I didn’t use “extravaganza” there?)

Yes, I’ve said it before, many times: Somewhere In Time is my favorite movie. . . of all time, if I wanted to get one more “time” in there. . . make that two. I’ve never claimed it was the best film ever, and I can certainly think of a few ways it could have been improved, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most awesome use of Kodak and Fuji stock evah.
Granted, it starts off really slow, with so much exposition; the only really good moment in modern times is when he sees her portrait, which starts the whole thing. But once he goes back in time and the scenery looks like pastels, it is simply too amazing to resist.
So on with the list. . .

15–“Astonishing!”
Obviously not used to early 20th century accoutrements—like shaving blades—Richard comes out of the bathroom with quite a few tissue papers blotting out cuts, leading the man who’s waiting to enter to mutter “Astonishing!” rather hilariously. It does help if you know the actor is actually Richard Matheson, the author/screenwriter, whom I’ve seen staring up at me from the back of book jackets–menacingly or disapprovingly, depending on the book–many times.
A few moments later Elise asks, almost horrified, “What did you do to your face?”
“Shaved.”

14–Way too early, ya stalker!
He knocks on her hotel room door early in the morn, and you can tell he woke her up, cuz she’s a little pissed. She’s also wearing her hair in a way that shows it just came unbraided, which is a lovely effect. He freaks her out a few times with his knowledge of what will happen in the future, almost wakes up the maid, but perseveres and grabs her hand while making a fool of himself. . . and then she kinda smiles shyly—or slyly—and finally consents to walking with him before slamming the door in his face . . . three times! It almost looks like she’s having fun. . . which leads him to exclaim, “She’s crazy about me!”

13–Not-so-happy Landings
So, having prepared everything to go back in time–he’s got the clothes, money, knowledge of the past–Richard lays down on his bed to make the trip. But one thing he didn’t count on was “landing”—so to speak—in the past in what would be someone else’s room, in this case a very funny bickering couple, with her in lingerie of the period, which he seems to appreciate from his hideouts, first in the closet and then behind a chair; he’s lucky his comical asides aren’t heard. Once they both go into the other room, he makes a bolt for the door, only to close it too hard and draw the attention of the man. Trying to act oh so cool in the hallway, Richard hears the door behind him opening and almost panics, but instead does an awesome trick {which works in real life too, trust me}: he turns around, pretending he’s coming down the hall in this direction, then says he saw some kids running away when asked. He woulda made a good spy. . .

12–“Are you sure this is the right room?”
Back when he was having doubts about being able to time travel, Richard checked out the old sign-in logs in the attic, where he found his name and proved he was successful; this gives him the will to complete his mission and travel back in time. So he knows what room he’ll be in, as well as what time he’ll check in, but it’s not like he can tell people he knows the future when he’s back in 1912, right? He almost blows it with Elise when he blurts out this info, but when he’s checking in and is given the key to another room, he really panics. . . until another clerk comes by and says the room’s reserved, he just forgot to put the notice in the box. Richard grabs at the next room key, sighs in relief when it’s the right one, signs his name with a flourish, but then the clerk takes the pen to fill in the hour, which Richard of course blurts out. He receives one of many strange looks from the clerk, but the man is too well-mannered to make anything of it, even when he realizes the hotel guest has no luggage.

11–Rowing on the lake
Having spent the afternoon together, they go over to a small lighthouse and have a really nice talk, but on the way back to shore in the rowboat, Richard is humming his favorite song, which Elise says is lovely. Now we know how it became her favorite song. . . and what song is it? Why, the eighteenth variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. . . andante cantabile, if you need to know that part. Seriously, is there anything else that needs to be said? Or heard?

10–A Day Together
As I just mentioned, they spent the afternoon together before the play goes on that night. “A Day Together” is also the name of the song that soundtracks this set of scenes, so I figured I should use it too. Escaping Robinson’s surveillance by stealing a horse and buggy—she’s driving, by the way—Elise and Richard proceed to spend the. . . yes, day together, as seen through a very pastel montage: strolling through a lawn of people having fun, buying some good eats, looking at painters by the lake, basically being romantic with each other. Sitting under a tree, he’s talking about who knows what—you only hear the music—and she’s staring at him like she’d misjudged him earlier, and is really starting to like him despite herself. Then the music changes back to the incredibly romantic theme as they sit by the lighthouse, where she explains why she’s so reserved, then tells him why she said, “Is it you?” {And leads to the rowboat scene.}

9–“Is he the one?”
After some awkward moments when she seems to like him but doesn’t want to show it, and he gets kicked out of the restaurant, Elise is back in her room, combing her beautiful hair, sporting a sly smirk that is completely unexpected, but hints as to the hidden wildcat underneath. Robinson comes in to talk to her, and the whole scene is shot in the mirror, which just comes out beautifully. This time her question is, “Is he the one?” and of course Robinson says only she can tell. He gives her the usual pep talk, which she’s heard so many times she has it memorized: “Excess within control.” That’ll pop up a few times.

8–“Then you were wrong about him, weren’t you?”
{Book-ending the previous selection}
During the second half of the play Robinson lures Richard outside, has him beaten up and put away where Elise can’t find him. Then he goes off to talk to her, thinking things will be back to normal with his star. Elise ain’t buying it, and asks if Richard was the one Robinson is always talking about, the one who will destroy her. When he says no, Elise makes him pay with, “Then you were wrong about him, weren’t you?” As Robinson realizes he’s fallen into her logic trap, she adds, “I love him, and he’s going to make me very happy.” He tries to weakly argue, but he knows he’s done for, though he doesn’t let it show till he’s outside her dressing room.

From here it gets a lot harder choosing; any of them could have been #1.

7–Running up/down the stairs toward each other. . .
{See what I mean about how difficult this is? In most movies this scene would be the best.}
Thinking Elise has left while he was unconscious in the barn, Richard mopes out of the hotel onto the amazing porch–world’s longest–to sit at a bench next to the stairs that lead down to the giant lawn. As the right side of the camera holds on his dejection, on the left side we look down at some trees. . . with Elise coming out from behind them and spotting him. {Btw, and not to be a downer, but this has to be a split-screen; I looked down from that same spot and it’s not the same view. Oh well. . .} She screams his name, he turns and spots her, and they start running toward each other, with him getting down the stairs quicker than she goes up, meeting on the first landing for a big spin-around hug and eventually a kiss before they go back to her room. . . {keep reading for that one.}

6–Taking the portrait. . .
After she makes up a whole new first act–which you’ll find below–she’s on her way to change during intermission, except a really obnoxious photographer—don’t go there!—insists on getting her portrait done. She’s really not into it at all. . . until Richard shows up–having gotten backstage way too easily–which inspires her to give that sly little “I’m in love” smile that becomes the portrait that Richard first sees in the Hall of Memory. So, turns out he inspired the photo that started the whole ball rolling—time travel is really bad for grammar—but I really wish they hadn’t thought us idiots by putting the oval outline of the portrait on screen for a ghostly second.

5–First time he sees portrait
Eleven minutes into the movie–still in the “present”–Richard’s in the hotel and hungry, but the restaurant doesn’t open for another 40 minutes, so he wanders into the Hall of Memory {which isn’t really at the hotel; they should put one in, just sayin’}. He’s gawking around when the famous music begins to play. Like he’s receiving a psychic message, something makes him turn around. At the end of the room, all by herself, a solitary shaft of light comes in from the side to illuminate the portrait of Elise, the first time he (and we) see her. He moves closer, and the flare of light blows out the view, turning everything white. Then, stepping closer, there she is again. . . the music swells, and he’s not the only one falling in love. It’s Jane Seymour, after all. . . I woulda spent days staring at her too.

4–“Is it you?”
{I’m still amazed this isn’t #1}
There’s the theme music again as Richard walks out of the theater, having not found Elise, and spots a female figure walking through the trees. As he follows her, looking for an angle to see her around the shrubbery, she stops to touch a strangely-shaped tree that will make the spot easy for you to find if you ever visit Mackinac Island {though I hear there’s a plaque now; it’s been years since I was there}. She sees him, he walks toward her, the strings kick in over the piano, swelling in the very definition of romantic. She looks frightened, he’s smiling like he’s been struck dumb.
“Is it you? Is it?”
Well else could he possibly say? “Yes.”

3–In a play? Make up your own lines
The play starts out with some really pompous music that I wonder if John Barry composed, then quickly goes into some rapid-fire jokes as Elise tells one of my favorite character actresses—Audrie Neenan, Nurse Faye on Doctor Doctor–how much she hates the man her father wants her to wed. But then, as she’s sitting at a desk, she finally realizes exactly what these new feelings mean. She proceeds to freak everyone in the production out by ad-libbing about the man she loves. {And then the look on Richard’s face when he realizes she’s talking about him. . .}
Here’s the whole thing:
“The man of my dreams has almost faded now.”
“And what man is that, miss?” {Audrie trying to play along while she’s completely hysterically lost.}
“The one I have created in my mind, the sort of man each woman dreams of in the deepest and most secret reaches of her heart. I can almost see him now before me. What would I say to him, if he were really here?
“Forgive me. I’ve never known this feeling. I’ve lived without it all my life. Is it any wonder then I failed to recognize you? You’ve brought it to me for the first time. Is there any way that I can tell you how my life has changed? Any way at all to let you know what sweetness you have given me? There is so much to say, I cannot find the words.
“Except for these: I love you.”
Then she finally remembers where she is, hastily adding, “And such would I say to him, if he were really here.” I save the word “luminous” for very few women, but Jane Seymour. . .

2–Show the love. . .
Reunited on the stairs, they repair to her room, where the no-longer-shy Elise grins rather seductively–if still innocently–as she undoes her bun and BAM! An incredibly gorgeous woman becomes a million times more as the door closes on the camera. . . only to have it move to the lace-drawn bed as he lays her down and the main theme gets even more romantic. The candle goes out. . .
{Two very different moments, but in one continuous scene, so I’ll keep going here}
Now they’re sitting on the floor, eating and talking, when out of the blue Elise says, “You will marry me, won’t you?” This unorthodox proposal makes him laugh unconsciously, while trying to swallow some fruit, which she takes the wrong way, of course.
“I want to be everything to you.”
“You are.”
A few moments later she bites her lower lip in abashment because she didn’t let him answer her question, and in a career that has spanned many sexy roles, that has to be the most incredible Jane Seymour has ever looked. . .

1–Each kiss is as the first. . .
When Richard walks Elise back to the hotel after their day together, he weasels himself into her room, where he proceeds to kiss her. . . not at all against her will, even though she says an unconvincing “no”; she sounds more afraid than reluctant. Maybe it’s her first kiss, considering how reserved and famous she is, but more likely she’s worried about giving in to these strange new feelings inside her. . . {and I really wish that didn’t sound like some romance novel}. Right before his lips reach hers she whispers, “Oh my gawd, what’s happening?” but after a few seconds she’s fully participating, her arms going around him. . . until guess who knocks on the door.
{Again, continuation of the scene, so I’ll keep going, though it’s much different}
Elise finally stands up to Robinson, with the glorious line: “I am involved with you as an actress, not a doormat; do not attempt to wipe your boots on me!”

Extras
The soundtrack, most of all the main theme.
I’ve tried to learn it so many times, even though I don’t play the piano. Heck, I bought my roll-up keyboard just for this song. Most romantic score ever, proving just what a genius John Barry was, and that‘s before you add in the Rachmaninoff. Wish I could have told him that before he passed away not that long ago.

I love how everyone laughs at his suit, because his research was wrong, ending up with clothes ten or fifteen years out of date. Finally someone actually tells him, but unfortunately it’s pretty much the reason everything gets screwed up at the end. . .

With his ball taken away for playing in the lobby, little Arthur is moping on one of the couches in his little sailor suit. Richard sees him and reaches his long arms over the front desk to grab the big ball and give it back to the kid, which of course he’ll remember for the rest of his life; Richard’s “See ya ’round, Arthur” is why he thinks they’ve met before at the beginning.

When he’s in the library, looking through the theater magazines, he flips the page and realizes the woman who gave him the watch at the very beginning was Elise. . . that look of shock showed Superman could act.

The model of the Grand Hotel that plays the Rachmaninoff. . .

“Stick out your tongue.”
Throughout their day together Richard still has some tissue on his face from the attempted shave, and she can’t bear to look at it any more. Funny as it is, it leads to some intense mutual eye-gazing. . .

Richard waking up after being knocked unconscious. . . to look straight up into the face of a curious horse. . .

By the way, I have the novel this was based on, and the book comes with another novel, What Dreams May Come. Remember that movie? Robin Williams playing with paint in heaven? It is strongly suggested that this is a sequel. . . fun, huh?

;o)

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