Things to Come - Photo Gallery, Behind the Scenes
by Nick Cooper © 2004-2017
This public house is seen briefly in the 1940 Christmas Eve montage, and was almost certainly shot at Worthon Hall Studios in early 1935, rather than being part of the Everytown set at Denham. Director William Cameron Menzies is standing with one leg up on the boom microphone trolley at left, directly behind him is set designer Vincent Korda, and behind him is producer Alexander Korda.
The attack on "the Hill People" by the Boss's brigand army was shot at South Griffin Colliery , Blaina, South Wales between 20 and 23 May 1935, where - according to captioning originally supplied with the first still below - "Unemployed miners as film actors represent the devastated army after the World War." The colliery had been closed since 1921, and was derelict at the time. Two hundred ex-servicemen and Territorial Army members were used in the filming at three hours notice, and at 16 shillings a day (equivalent to £160 today, based on average earnings), providing a much-needed boost of around £1,000 (£200,000) into the local economy.
On Friday 7 June 1935, a summer gale which caused widespread damage across southern England wrecked part of the massive Everytown back-lot, then being constructed on land to the north of what was to become Denham Studios. One workman - Arthur Vailes, of Hounslow - was killed, and several others injured. This aerial photograph - which could easily be mistaken for a model - appeared in the next day's edition of the Daily Mail, and shows the part of the set which would represent the "complete" pre-war version of the town. The view is approximately south.
H.G. Wells with Menzies on the complete set at Denham during the filming of the air raid sequence. On the left, behind Wells, is one of the ainti-aircraft guns, the circular items being the bases of its shells.
In parallel with the "complete" version of Everytown, the set was duplicated to the left (i.e. east) in semi-ruined form for the 1966-1970 scenes, as can be seen below. Note the river on the left, very close to the back of the buildings, with the lake beyond. See the Post Production gallery for a illustration of how the two sets stood side-by-side.
For orientation purposes, the tallest of the equivalent part-constructed buildings to the right-centre in the post-gale view is the same as see in the centre here ("Sandersons" department store - note the tall first floor windows), except that the point of view is some 45° counter-clockwise (approximately south-east). Just above the small van in the centre foreground, a open-topped doubledecker bus is parked at right-angles to the Sandersons building. This is not, however, the bus seen in the market scenes, which is in another part of the set. At the top of the rear external staircase is a sign reading "FIRST AID STATION" indicating its working use. Almost completely obscured by the shadow from the Sandersons buolding is an incongruous telephone kiosk, which is just visible being used as a sentry box at the start of the 1970 segment.
This next viewpoint -isapproximately 20 degrees to the left of the previous one, and almost at ground level, with the building with the rough external staircase on the left being the same as that seen in the top-left quadrant of the previous view; note also the ruined Town Hall with its collapsed dome. From the position of the shadows, this seems to have been taken at a later time in the day than the previous view, while the similar crowd of extras suggest it is the same scene in which the Boss is introduced to Mary (they and Gordon are just visible below the staircase).
Wells visits the 1970 set, apparently around the time of the initial market scenes were filmed.
This picture probably shows Margeretta Scott and Maurice Braddell either departing for or arriving at the former Brooklands racing track, which was the location used for the aerodrome used by the Boss's "air force," as she is wearing the costume seen when the delapidates biplane take to the air again. The aeroplane is a General Aircraft Monospar ST-4, operated by Oxford Flying Services, which according to the 11 July 1935 issue of Flight magazine was based at Chilworth Aerodrome, near Wheatley, Oxfordshire.
Margaretta Scott converses with Nigel Tangye, the film's aeronautical advisor, who went on to tour Nazi Germany by air with Braddell on behalf of Action - the magazine of the British Union of Fascists - and who subsequently married Ann Todd.
Menzies stands in conversation with Maurice Braddell, while Ann Todd and Margaretta Scott enjoy cup of tea. The identity of the man sat between the two women is not currently known. Todd and Scott's costumes suggest this was taken around the time the scenes of the arrival of the Basra Bombers were shot.
Raymond Massey, Pearl Argyle, and H.G. Wells. This and the following four photographs appear to have been taken at the same time.
Wells and Argyle with long-suffering director William Cameron Menzies.
The original caption of this portrait of Argyle on the reverse reads:
Note the small television set on the table she is leaning on.
Portraits of Raymond Massey as the young John Cabal.
Massey as the aged John Cabal.
Massey as Oswald Cabal. This was the basis for the colour artwork of Massey on the "My Favourite Part" cigarette card produced by Gallaher, but note the model aircraft on the table in the background of this original wider view.
Ralph Richardson pulls a suitably manic expression, whilst drawing his revolver.
A striking portrait of Margaretta Scott as Roxana Black, the Everytown Boss's mistress. Only in this very detailed photograph can it be seen that her ear-rings and necklace are actually made from 1930s British coins! This was the basis for the colour artwork of Scott on the "My Favourite Part" cigarette card produced by Gallaher.
Test shot of the costume originally intended for Margaretta Scott's Rowena character. In the end, the more simple outfit seen in the following picture was used.
Amazingly, one of the biggest casualties in terms of lost footage is the event that drives the narrative in the last part of the film, namely Theotocopulos's speech to the world. In the Standard Print, it seems that he makes a few disjointed arguments, and suddenly the entire population rebels! The Stover Script does have more of this speech, although since it retains the timescale of the Standard Print, events still seem to progress to near-anarchy far too quickly. It is only in the Film Story that the disgruntled sculptor gets to argue his full case in a speech more than ten times longer than what survives now, while having it take place in the narrative considerably earlier, allowing times for the discontent to fester and grow into open revolt. The speech is also intercut with reactions from various members of the 2036 population - either for or against his arguments - and the few reaction shots of viewers that survive hardly do justice to the initial premise.
One reason for the radical re-working of this part of the film may lie in the fact that Cedric Hardwicke was not actually the original choice for Theotocopulos. The Film Treatment describes him thus: "a tall, slender man, bearded... like one of the figures in a picture by his ancestor [Doménikos Theotokópoulos] El Greco." In fact, all of Theotocopulos' scenes were initially shot with Ernest (Bride of Frankenstein) Thesiger in the role, but these were discarded because (ironically!) Wells was supposedly dissatisfied with the actor's voice. Nobody bothered to tell Thesiger this, and he actually turned up at the premiere in the full belief that he was still in the film, although he did successfully appear in its companion piece, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, the following year. Some long-shots of the crowd approaching the Space Gun seemsto show Thesiger, rather than Hardwicke, who only appears in these scenes in close-ups of him surrounded by a tight knot of his followers.
The lateness of Thesiger's replacement is also proven by an unlikely source. One oft-seen still shows a head-and-shoulder shot of Hardwicke on the large screen in the Square of the Everytown of 2036. Since no footage actually shows him on the screen as such, this would appear to be a dummied-up publicity shot, especially since a similar version exists with Thesiger instead of Hardwicke, which has even been used on the packaging of some video releases:
This portrait of Thesiger shows how radically different his severe costume was from Hardwicke's flowing robes.
At first glance it seems that this photo shows Maurice and Catherine being strapped in in the Space Gun capsule, and it is often captioned as such.
In this screen-grab from the extant footage, they are intially seen being strapped into loose harnesses, as per Wells's script. Note the position of the central periscope-like device.
In this next screen-grab from a subsequent shot, after the launch crew have withdrawn and the capsule hatch closed, however, Maurice and Catherine are seated. They are also facing away from the hatch, rather than towards it, as per the production still, and it seems that the frameword does have a pivot point to allow this rotation. Not that despite the point of view being near-identical, the "periscope" device is in a higher position.
It's seems probable that this scene was shot with both arrangements for the "astronauts," with the intention of using only one, but the footage got mixed up in the edit