by Nick Cooper © 2005-2017

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5 May 1934 Picturegoer Magazine - "British Films" Supplement

Possibly one of the earliest hints for film audiences of the production of Things to Come. Both covers were essentially a trade advert for London Films, with Wells noted on the front as being among, "DIRECTORS, AUTHORS and PLAYERS who are making FILM WORLD HISTORY", while the back has a photograph of HG and gives the title of the film as "THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME". Despite the latter, the Supplement contains an interview with Alexander Korda at Elstree, in which CA Lejeune follows a comment about witnessing the shooting of The Private Life of Don Juan with: "Near by the H. G. Wells fantasy Whither Mankind? was in active preparation." Elsewhere in the Supplement, a list of films then being made includes: "Whither Mankind? - by H. G. Wells. (In production.)" Unlike other London Films productions in the list, though, no director or cast details are noted. [Original in the author's collection]

September 1935 Cressett Press Film Story

The rare jacket for the original British hardback edition of the Film Story - Wells' book version of the script - which appeared in September1935. The designer of the jacket was E McKnight Kauffer, a well-known contemporary graphic artist, whose work is still collectable in its own right:

The book - which measured 5¾ x 8 inches - cost 3s/6d - approximately £9.50 in 2002 prices, and featured a blue cloth binding with gold titling (below left). There was a second edition in February 1936, the first copies of which had the same binding, but later ones were in plain olive cloth with red titling (below right). In 1940 the text was combined with the Film Story for The Man Who Could Work Miracles under the title Two Film Stories. See also The New Nash's Pall Mall Magazine, October 1935 Macmillan Film Story, and 1975 Gregg Press Film Story below. [Originals in the author's collection]

October 1935 The New Nash's Pall Mall Magazine

At the same time as the hardback publication of the Film Story, this magazine featured "THE STORY OF THE FILM," accompanied by illustrations by both "Mackinlay" and Philip Zec. In fact, this was actually the complete text of the Cressett Press edition - bar Wells's introduction - spread over 20 pages. Costing only a shilling (£2.70 in 2002 prices), this was essentially a cut-price alternative to buying the hardback, and as such does raise questions about Wells's motives in publishing the Film Story in the first place. The same magazine also printed the Film Stories for The Man Who Could Work Miracles and the unmade The New Faust in January and December 1936 respectively. [Author's collection]

NOTE: Links on images 4-through-8 are to illustrations only, and not the full text pages.

29 September - 27 October 1935 This Week Magazine

Billed as "H.G. WELLS' New Serial," and vividly illustrated, this again was the complete text of the Cressett Press edition - bar Wells's introduction - spread over five weeks of the magazine section of the Indianapolis Sunday Star newspaper (it was almost certainly syndicated in other publications). This predates the American publication of the book by the Macmillan company (see below), and - along with the The New Nash's Pall Mall Magazine version noted below - as such raises questions about Wells's motives in publishing the Film Story in the first place. [Much decayed originals - formerly owned by SF aficionado Forrest J. Ackerman (FJA) - in the author's collection]

NOTE: Links are to illustrations only, and not the full text pages.


October 1935 Macmillan Film Story

In contrast with the British edition of the Film Story, the American version - slightly larger at 5¾ x 8½ inches - came in much less striking packaging. Reputedly a variation was also produced containing stills from the film, although considering the production timescale, it may have been a reprint. [Original in the author's collection]

23 November 1935 The Illustrated London News magazine

Single page photo-feature concentrating on the futuristic 2036 segment. [Original in the author's collection]

21 February 1936 London premiere programme

This programme for the world premiere at the Leicester Square Theatre consists of a heavy embossed white/cream 8.2" x 11.5" (210mm x 291mm) card cover, with a single sheet of glossy paper folded into two slightly smaller 11" x 8" (203 mm x 279mm) pages. The 4.9" x 8.9" (124mm x 226mm) photographs of Wells and Korda are pasted inside the covers on the top edge only. [Original in the author's collection]

Photoplay Studies - Volume II, Number 4, April 1936

Part of a series of study guides aimed at American senior high school students, published by Educational and Recreational Guides Inc., of Newark, New Jersey. It includes a brief synopsis of the film, and suggests lines of discussion relating to a surprisingly wide range of aspects of the film, illustrated with eight stills from the film or its production. [Original in the author's collection]

NOTE: A full transcript of the text of in preparation.

1936 Screen Pictorial Summer Annual

Although the film premiered in February 1936, this magazine - presumably appearing around four months later - featured a two-page photo montage spread, as well as a single-page advert. Significantly, both feature Margaretta Scott as Rowena, which again raises questions over exactly when her only scene as this character was dropped. [Original in the author's collection]

1936 Film Scenes cigarette card

One of a set of 28 cards published by Peter Jackson (owned at the time by Gallaher - see below), one of which came free in every packet of 20 cigarettes. Each 1½" x 2½" (37mm x 63mm) card featured a b/w photograph from a then-recent film, with descriptive text on the reverse. Card 10 showed Derrick de Marney and Ann Todd as Richard as Richard and Mary Gordon in Things to Come. [Original in the author's collection]

1939 My Favourite Part cigarette cards

Two of a set of 48 cards published by Gallaher (now best known for then Benson & Hedges and Silk Cut brands), one of which came free in every packet of 20 cigarettes. Each 1½" x 2½" (37mm x 63mm) card featured a richly coloured artwork rendition of an actor or actress in their chosen favourite role, as explained in brief text on the reverse. Both Raymond Massey (card 7) and Margaretta Scott (card 41) elected for Things to Come, being represented as Oswald Cabal and Roxana respectively. Sir Cedric Hardwicke also appeared in the set, but as Charles II from the 1934 film Nell Gwynn. [From the author's collection of the original full set of 48 cards]

Super-8mm cine film

Aside from the already-documented Walter O. Gutlohn 16mm print available for domestic purchase, at least one Super-8 copy of the same version of the film was subsequently released by Niles Film Products Inc. This was most probably in the 1970s or 1980s, since Super-8 was not introduced until 1965 and its use declined after the advent of home video systems in the late-1970s. The full feature version of the film comprised six 400-foot reels in a plain cardboard box, while a somewhat roughly-edited "digest" came in generic Niles packaging. [Both author's collection]


1975 Gregg Press Film Story

The first "modern" printing of the Film Story, the text of this edition is a exact photographic reproduction of the Cressett Press original, although the dark green binding was different, and it lacked Kauffer's evocative jacket. It did, however, include new introductions by George Zebrowski and Allan Asherman, and sixteen b/w photographs from the latter's collection. Generally, critiques of Things to Come either assess it as an adaptation of Wells's original The Shape of Things to Come novel, or else analyse it as part of the science fiction film genre, and this was essentially Zebrowski's approach. Asherman, on the other hand, was probably the first writer to contrast the script in its Film Story form with the extant footage (almost certainly the Standard Print, since he make's no mention of the Gutlohn version's "Banquet Scene," which is not in the Film Story), and to systematically highlight what was missing and how it changes the emphasis of the narrative. [Author's collection]

The Prophetic Soul - a Reading of H.G. Wells's Things to Come by Leon Stover (McFarland, 1987)

Although primarily Leon Stover's somewhat esoteric analysis of what he purports to be the "message" of the film, this academic book is undoubtedly valuable for its extensive photographic section of original productions stills, and the two appendices. The first of the latter is the privately published and circulated second plot "Treatment" by Wells, from which the script of the film was derived. In Stover's later work (see below), he claims that this is the "first treatment" which Wells talks about being discarded in the introduction to the Cressett Press Film Story, when more logically it is the "second treatment," since the first was rejected precisely because it was thought to be, "quite impractical for production."

The second appendix is a reprinting of the only known surviving London Films for the film, and editor's cutting guide with every shot timed in feet and frames of footage (a foot of 35mm film is 16 frames, and runs at 24 frames-per-second). Stover identifies this as being the version of the film released in 1936, but while the latter ran to 108m 41s,  an analysis of a copy of the original script shows that it is for a version that would run to 105m 02s. [Author's collection]


6 June 1995 H.G. Wells/science fiction stamps Royal Mail first day cover

On 6 June 1995 the Royal Mail launched a series of science fiction-themed postage stamps with the following values:

25p - Time Travel - The Time Machine
30p - Space Travel - The First Men in the Moon
35p - Alien Invasion - The War of the Worlds
41p - Futuristic Society - Things to Come

The first day cover features all four stamps on a standard DL envelope, with a card insert giving a brief biography of Wells. The question, though, is why the Royal Mail didn't wait until the following year, which was the 130th anniversary of Wells's birth, or indeed the 50th anniversary of his death?! [Original in the author's collection]

6 June 1995 Benham "Silk" H.G. Wells/science fiction first day cover

Benham's of Folkestone used the 41p stamp from the above series for one of their "Silk" range of covers, featuring a detail from one of the American release posters. [Author's collection]

Things to Come by Chritopher Frayling (BFI Film Classics series, 1995)

The definitive account of the making of the film, with particular attention to its design in relation to the then-contemporary modernist movement. "Things to Come," Frayling succinctly notes, "is to modernism as Blade Runner is to Post-modernism." [Author's collection]

Things to Come - A Critical Text of the 1935 London First Edition, with an Introduction and Appendices by Leon Stover (McFarland, 2007)

Following The Prophetic Soul (see above), Leon Stover produced a series of "critical texts" of a number of Wells's books, with new annotations and appendices, this being the ninth and last before his death in  November 2006. Even when setting aside the disagreement over the validity of Stover's work amongst Wells scholars (of which there is plenty), this does not stand as much of an epitaph for the academic, as it contains numerous misinterpretations or erros, some of them horrendously basic. At one point, for example, after the outbreak of war in 1940, Passworthy (Edward Chapman) is seen leaving his house wearing an armband, which Stover states, "reads 'HO' for Home Office, a government office in charge of domestic affairs including civil defense" (page 42, note  22). The accompanying still for this scene claims that, "the 'HO' on his armband is inexplicably backwards," i.e. as "OH" not "HO." In fact, the extant footage shows that the armband actually reads "O.H.M.S." - the standard British government acronym for "Oh His/Her Majesty's Service"! [Author's collection]



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