(6/10) In a nutshell: This Hungarian sci-fi turned romantic costume and swashbuckler drama is a forgotten little gem. It is based on a time machine short story predating H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine by one year, and is the first feature film in movie history to feature an actual time machine. It is also Hungary’s first all-out science fiction film, and stars one of the country’s most talked-about movie stars of the era.

Sziriusz. 1942, Hungary. Directed by Deszö Ákos Hamza. Written by Péter Rákószi. Based on the play Sziriusz by Imre Földes, in turn based on the novel Sziriusz by Ferenc Herczeg. Starring: Katalin Karády, Lásló Szilassy, Elemér Baló, Lajos Rajczy. Produced for Magyar Irok Filmje. IMDb score: 5.7

Hungarian superstar Katalin Karády in a modestly risqué scene in the world's first time machine film, Sziriusz.

Hungarian superstar Katalin Karády in a modestly risqué scene in the world’s first time machine film, Sziriusz.

When looking at the Hungarian invasion of Hollywood during the first 60 years of cinema, one might think that all of Hungary’s filmmakers had emigrated to the United States. Among the notables we find people like the founder of Fox Studios, William Fox, as well as the founder of Paramount, Adolf Zukor. Others worthy of mention are directors Michael Curtiz (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca), George Cukor (My Fair Lady), George Pal (The Time Machine) and the three Korda brothers (The Jungle Book, The Four Feathers, The Thief of Baghdad), although they were primarily based in Britain. Of the movie stars everyone of course knows Bela Lugosi, but there were also Peter Lorre, Tony Curtis, Johnny Weissmuller, Ilona Massey, Harry Houdini, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eva Gabor, Leslie Howard and Paul Lukas. And one shouldn’t forget composer Miklos Roza, and there were many, many others. But Hungary also had a thriving film scene at home, as evidenced by the country’s third ever science fiction feature film, Sziriusz, that was nominated for the main prize at the Venice film festival in 1942, and featured the country’s biggest film star, the beautiful Katalin Karády. Continue reading