The opening screen of Bridge the the Future, with the 1996 MST3K-style cast superimposed.

"... and who wouldn't, with a gal like Betty?"


Bridge to the Future was a 20 minute promotional film released in the early 1950's by Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The film tells the fictional story of Bob Lansford as he visits WPI, becomes a student, gets a loyal girlfriend, graduates, and then embarks on an exciting career in engineering. It is narrated by one of the characters who claims to be a WPI graduate, often repeats himself, doesn't reveal his name, and often repeats himself.

Aside from serving as an interesting look back into what life at WPI was like in the 1950's, the film has some historical significance - one of the very first activities of today's Lens and Lights was projecting the film in 16mm format for prospective students and their families.

It's not certain what year the film was created and released, but Robert P. Hayward (who plays "Bob" in the film) graduated in 1950, so those scenes had to be shot in early 1950. However, during the football game the Class of 1954 has their year proudly promoted on the side of a hill. Since the class of 1954 didn't enter WPI until the fall of 1950, that places the film around late 1950 or early 1951. Other things on campus, most notably the student center (aka "Riley House") help to date the film's release to 1951...but that could still be slightly off.

In the early 1990s, members of LnL discovered some old 16mm prints of the film and began showing it before SocComm movies when a cartoon was unavailable.

After cable television was installed in the campus residence halls during the summer of 1994, SocComm began showing movies at night on the campus TV channel 11. When a movie ran short, Bridge to the Future was often shown to fill time. A post on a WPI newsgroup suggested that someone should do an "MST3K version" of it. IMC employee Doug Thompson offered to produce it if someone wrote a script. In early 1996, Patrick Delahanty contacted Doug with a completed script.

The film was shot in one day in early March 1996. There were two takes to record the entire video portion. All audio was dubbed in after.

The spoof premiered at 11:30am on March 30, 1996 before a showing of the Back to the Future trilogy. It was shown three times that day in Perreault Lecture Hall. It could be found on WPI's private cable TV network from time to time. It had also been shown during such WPI events as Alden Movie Night.

A DVD is planned to be released by Patrick Delahanty at some point in the future. This DVD will feature audio commentary.


Original (1951)

Bob Lansford Robert P. Hayward '50
Betty Mary Givens
Narrator uncredited

The film was produced by Bay State Film Productions, Inc. for WPI.

Spoof (1996)

Same as original, plus:

Patrick Delahanty '95 "Pat"/writer
Tim Lewis '95 director/writer
John Fournier '96 "John"/writer
Kyle Warren '96 "Kyle"/writer
Doug Thompson '78 producer
Joe Kalinowski '99 stage crew
Tara O'Keefe art director/props

This version of the film was produced by Doug Thompson in the TV Studio run by the Instructional Media Center, known today as the Academic Technology Center.



  • At the time the 1996 version was recorded, WPI's Campus Center did not exist, but students had been lobbying for one since at least 1991. The line, "Wait a minute, student center?!" was a reference to the lack of a student or campus center at the time.
  • The names given to the basketball players were references to roommates of the cast members.
  • "There's some LnL guys up there," is, of course, a reference to Lens & Lights.
  • At the premiere, the 1951 version was started, but "technical difficulties" were faked and the audience was told that "a replacement version" would be screened instead.
  • When the new version was created, it wasn't known by the writers that the Back to the Future trilogy was going to be shown. Likewise, the people in Lens & Lights who decided on Back to the Future also had no knowledge of the new Bridge to the Future. In fact, the first time they got to see it was during the premiere. It's just a coincidence that there's a joke at the beginning that refers to Christopher Lloyd and Back to the Future.

Watch It

The Academic Technology Center (ATC) maintains both the original and the 1996 version on its streaming media server. To view the movies, you'll need to have Windows Media Player 9 or better installed.

Both versions are also available through the iTunes Store as a podcast.

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