World Without End is the title of a science fiction B-movie, released in 1956 by Allied Artists. The first science fiction thriller in Cinemascope, it starred Hugh Marlowe, Rod Taylor, Nancy Gates, Christopher Dark, and Nelson Leigh and was directed by Edward Bernds.
This film marked an early 'big-screen' performance of Rod Taylor. The Australian-born actor would soon make his mark in science fiction film history, portraying another time traveler in the George Pal production of The Time Machine.
This film chronicles the exploits of four astronauts, whose 1957 spaceship accidentally exceeds the speed of light as they return from a trip circling Mars. They are knocked unconscious, and land in a snow-covered area. They venture out, and discover that they have traveled in time to what they eventually find out is the year 2508. Five hundred and fifty one years have passed. They learn that humanity has been largely destroyed by a devastating atomic war. One of the four astronauts, Henry Jaffe, is particularly grief-stricken as he realizes that his wife and children have long since died without his being with them.
After surviving attacks by giant, horrifying mutant spiders, they are later attacked by one of two competing remnants of human society that still exist. There are surface dwellers who live in a primitive hunter-gatherer system, with a group of one-eyed violent mutants, deformed by generations of exposure to residual radioactivity, dominating the majority of 'normal' (non-mutated) human tribesmen. The leader of the mutants is the vicious Naga. It is the one-eyed mutants that assault the astronauts.
Living underground are descendants of those who were lucky enough to relocate permanently beneath the surface when the A-bombs started falling. The latter live in a high-tech, sophisticated living space.
These survivors are a peaceful, reasonable group, led by the elder statesman Timmek (Everett Glass), president of the council of the underground people. But the men have grown increasingly feeble and nearly sterile from their many generations out of the sun. The women, on the other hand, are vital and ready for romance. The astronauts soon become romantically involved with the women. This puts them direct conflict with Mories, a male member of the underground survivors. He views the four astronauts as being dangerous marauders bent upon conquest-driven behavior.
The astronaut heroes, led by John Borden (Hugh Marlowe), help to re-introduce sophisticated weaponry back into the world. Borden's romance with Garnet (Nancy Gates), daughtter of Timmek, puts him in conflict with Mories (Booth Coleman) who had thought Garnet was his girlfriend. Mories plants weapons in their quarters to retaliate, commits a murder to further implicate the astronauts, and injures Deena, a non-mutant surface survivor saved by the underground humans. Timmek orders them expelled from the underground civilization, but relents when their innocence is proven. When Mories' treachery is finally unmasked, he escapes to the surface but he is swiftly killed by the violent human mutants.
The differences between the time travelers and the underground humans is emphasized by comments made by another attractive woman, Elaine, who admires a shirtless Herbert Ellis (Rod Taylor) while saying that the astronauts are "more muscular than our men."
After a battle with the mutants above, in which the subterranean dwellers repeatedly fire a recreation of a WW II-era bazooka at their enemies, and a one-on-one confrontation between Borden and Naga to free the non-mutant humans for the rule of the violent, cyclops-like mutants, the underground civilization regains the surface.
The film ends in a hopeful note, with the now-free, non-mutants surface dwellers and cave dwellers now living in the open and in peace. The tag line reads "The Beginning".