Things to Come - Photo Gallery, 1940
by Nick Cooper © 2004-2011
Presented here are a number of stills from the author's collection, broadly divided into actual general production or publicity stills, along with reprints from various publications of examples specifically from "lost" scenes. Where appropriate, they are accompanied with explanatory text, in which extracts from the Film Story or Stover Script in green denotes footage surviving in the 92m 42s print, blue in the Gutlohn Print but not the 92m 42s Standard Print, purple is the apparently lost Stover Script material (i.e. not in 92m 42s or Gutlohn), while red is dialogue and description unique to the Film Story.
Formerly in the collection of film archivist John Huntley, and curiously printed on paper indicating ownership by the Air Minsitry, the still below has annotation on the back stating:
"A detail shot on the set at Worton Hall Studios on the silent stage that was later transferred to Shepperton. This shot does not feature in the finished film.
This is wrong on two counts. A shot of this scene appears in the opening Christmas Eve montage, although the acrobat is tumbling along the line of the road, while the coding of the stills actually refers to Wells's preferred title of Whiter Mankind?, which was only changed to Things to Come in the Autumn of 1935.
After the scenes of Everytown on Christmas Eve, there is a brief scene showing the young Dr Harding in his laboratory:
In all known versions of the film, the end of the scenes in the Square dissolves directly to Cabal in his study, shortly before Harding's arrival. This seems to rule out the inclusion of the laboratory scene - the only time the location is seen in its undamaged form - from anything other than an end-of-filming rough-cut, but the existence of at least one appropriate photograph is evidence that it almost certainly was shot.
John and Mrs Cabal at the Christmas party. This particular shot does not actually appear in the film proper, but rather in the trailer, as Raymond Massey delivers a slightly different version of his lines: "Don't be too sure of progress..." In the film, this conversation takes places as the adults are seated near the Christmas tree, but in the trailer they are standing in the archway near the front door.
As the army outriders speed through Everytown Square, closer inspection reveals their motorcycles to be a variety of makes and models, rather than having the uniformity that one would expect of military procurement, even in the 1930s!
Now changed into his Royal Air Force uniform, John Cabal wears the ribbons to the Victory Medal and the 1914-18 British War Medal, awards which Raymond Massey - as a Great War veteran - was himself entitled to wear.
Passworthy - now sporting an O.H.M.S. (On His/Her Majesty's Service) armband - says goodbye to his son. Horrie Passworthy and the other children at the Cabals' Christmas party had a much greater role in the original narrative, standing as they did as metaphors for the various types of human personality that were intrinsic to Wells' approach to the script. Note the "subliminal" image of Adolf Hitler formed by the shrubbery against the wall in the background. Accounts vary as to whether this was a deliberate effect or not, but it seems unlikely that it was purely accidental!
Formerly in the John Huntley Collection, also printed on Air Ministry paper. The small size of the model village and boats are particularly evident in this shot.
Formerly in the John Huntley Collection, also printed on Air Ministry paper. Annotation on the back states:
"Overleaf - blow up and print seperately the view of these trees behind the set. The bus is wrong for 1940 - no open-top buses like this were in use at the time of the air raid in 1940.
This mistakes the new Denham Studios site in Buckinghamshire for Shepperton Studios in Surrey, with the river in question being the Colne, not the Thames!
The "Pestilence Years" segment was drastically rearranged, shifting backwards and forwards between scenes compared to the Film Story. This was probably done at a very early stage editing, since the background music is uninterrupted. The above still apears to be an "alternative" take for the first Wanderer the audience sees shot, showing him actually having fallen into the large shell-hole in the ruined Square, rather than simply to the ground, as seen in the extant footage.
Dr Edward Harding and his daughter, Mary, in the ruins of the lab seen in its original 1940 state in the lost scene at the start of the film (see above). What were two separate scenes in the script were amalgamated in the fiished film, producing a number of continuity/blocking errors and strange changes in the characters' moods.
Similarly, Janet's Wandering was originally intended to be more convoluted. In the existing film, Gordon never quite manages to catch her up, but the Film Story has him doing so, while she makes a far circuitous route out of the remains of Everytown:
Gordon's living-room. Mary and Gordon sitting. Atmosphere of hopelessness. Both stare towards the bed. Janet rises. Her face is now ghastly white and her eyes are glassy. She comes towards the two and towards the audience. Mary and Gordon stare at her, horror-stricken, as she passes them. Her face advances to a close-up. She leaves the room. After a second's hesitation, Gordon rises and hurries after his sister. Mary takes a few steps and then sits down.
Thus, the early debut of Ralph Richardson's character did not appear in the Film Story, and it may be that while the above was re-written to allow an earlier introduction, it also circumvented the building of additional complex sets - especially the deserted railway station - that had little other use in the rest of the film. Clearly, shooting Janet in the Square not only avoided this added expense, but also served to clarify how the Boss gained his position of power in Everytown, although one would perhaps expect more subsequent animosity towards him from Gordon, under the circumstances!