Bob’s “Hobbs End” end

For a few years I’ve been trying to remember the name of a cheesy old science-fiction film from the 1960’s that I saw on TV a long time ago, involving an excavation in London that reveals an ancient buried spaceship. Actually I’ve been trying to recall the name of the (fictional) location of that dig because I remember there being something interesting about it, but since I can’t, I need the name of the film in order to look up the location.

On the flight back to California yesterday I sat next to someone who spent most of the flight poring over a screenplay, making edits with a ballpoint pen. I knew it was a screenplay from the way the text was formatted on the page. I guessed he was the author and that it was still early in the development of the screenplay, based on the fact that the pages weren’t hole-punched and fastened with brass brads. It may sound crazy but it’s true: in Hollywood, it doesn’t matter if your script is a surefire blockbuster, no brass brads means no movie.

For the most part, my natural politeness won out over my natural curiosity and I managed to resist reading the screenplay over his shoulder. But over the course of the long flight I did glimpse three character names: Riggs, Breen, and Quatermass.

Back at my computer this morning naturally I googled that collection of names. If there is a big Hollywood epic now in production, I want to know about it (so that after it’s released, I can casually mention, “Yeah, I sat next to the screenwriter on my flight to the coast” while polishing my fingernails on my shirt front).

Googling revealed the long-running British hero, Professor Bernard Quatermass. He was the main character (and someone named Breen was a lesser character) in Quatermass and the Pit (a.k.a. Five Million Years to Earth) — which is the very movie I’ve been wondering about for years! A little further googling gave me the answer about the fictional location: “Hobbs End,” once spelled “Hob’s End,” a reference to the devil.

Ahh. That serendipitous resolution to the mystery was worth waiting for. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for a new Quatermass adventure, coming to a development hell near you.

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