The Yesterday Machine (1963)
There are certain films that get a little extra lovin’ at the Stately Estate--Samurai Cop, Sincerely Yours and Time Walker immediately come to mind--because I consider them personal “discoveries.” Obviously, other people are aware of the pics, otherwise they never would have made it to home video. But as far as those among us spreading the word about the best of the worst, these titles are (or at least were) paid little attention beyond Manor On Movies.
In fairness, it isn’t easy unearthing movies that are both obscure and screwy enough to qualify as junkfilms. Which makes a “discovery” a real treat. But what is doubly delicious is stumbling upon an offering produced by a no-name mopic outfit, directed by someone with no other credits of consequence and starring a cast equally as obscure, not a single sign among the leads of a fading Hollywood hotshot slumming it for bourbon bucks. It's as though, for two weeks, a group of average citizens stepped out of a fog, became "movie people" for a fortnight, then just as quietly slipped right back to being grocers, postmen and secretaries.
And that’s what you get with The Yesterday Machine.
We all fondly remember producer/director/screenwriter/songsmith Russ “Magic” Marker from such enticing fare as--okay, nothing comes to mind…but you certainly won’t soon forget The Yesterday Machine, once you give it a whirl. Talk about lighting, camerawork, casting, optical effects, dialogue, costuming, direction: this movie contains them all. Even gaffing and best boying!
And let’s not overlook the astonishing revelation that the above elements are the exact same ones found in the works of Scorsese, Ford, Hitchcock and Coppola!!! What more could you possibly want?
<--Forgive us our trespassers.
Sexy collegiate majorette Margie DeMar and her not-a-day-over-30 classmate and beau Howie Ellison run into car trouble on a rural road, and opt to take a shortcut across farmland, despite a clearly marked “Warning! Keep Out” sign. Naturally, hardened criminals of this ilk fully deserve to be shot on sight for their nihilistic law-breaking, and sho’ nuff, they do indeed find themselves dodging rifle fire.
From a pair of Civil War soldiers. (Insert your own "Rebel Rebel" pun here.)
The hottie literally vanishes into thin air and her hunk catches a slug, a convenient ot device to put him in a hospital, wherein Howie’s incredible experience is recounted to swinging Daily Sentinel reporter Jim Crandel.
[You can tell Jim (far right-->) is a real journalist by the way he lasciviously leers at every woman he sees and never goes a scene without a cigarette burning--even in a surgeon’s office at the hospital.]
Jive Jim quizzes Margie’s sister, nightclub singer Sandy, and, spotting an easy score, er, damsel in distress, agrees to help search for the missing miss. Back in the area where Howie was found, these two cross paths with a horseman in 18th century garb.
Hey, what is this, Anachronism Alley? Nope, turns out the backwoods borough houses the underground hideout of Nazi physicist Professor Ernest Von Hauser and a gaggle of goose-steppers. Before the Axis powers pooped on the Reich’s party, Prof was this close to perfecting time-travel, those out-of-place individuals being gents who stumbled through the temporal portal the screwball scientist had created in recent experiments.
True to form, Jim and Sandy are captured, and of course evil Ernie spills the beans on his masterplan for the Master Race. After a lengthy explanation of Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity (seriously, in the middle of a fright film!), the Professor tells the newsy newsman he plans to go back to the early Forties, alert the Fuhrer of strategic blunders the Nazis were making, and thus alter history to ensure the Germans win World War II.
Never mind Doctor Who; this guy is more like Doctor Heil!
Yesterday provides viewers with so much of what makes a junkfilm great. There’s the twist dance segment by the torrid baton babe in the opening and a second one by the club patrons; a full-length song performance by Sandra in the trad failed attempt to milk a hit single out of a non-musical (just like in Blood Of Dracula, Giant Gila Monster and so many other classics); a “time machine” consisting of a wooden chair surrounded by a patchwork of hokey flashing lights; a totally predictable outcome; useless smart-ass cops who couldn’t find a cup of salt water if they were sleuthing on an aircraft carrier…and, last but most, fighting out of the blue corner and hailing from Forties Berlin, those Ruffians Of The Rhine, The Dumbkopfs Of The Danube, The Hard-Headed Huns, The Deutschland Dimwits, nutzy Nazis who refuse to give it up despite not hearing a whisper from Hitler in 18 years.
For the dozens reading at home and the millions ignoring this site online, let’s get ready to bummmmbbblllllllllllllle!!!
<--Helpful citizen or Penn State recruiter? You make the call.
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