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The City on the Edge of Forever

Filming started on February 3rd, 1967. City is considered one of the best if not the best Star Trek episode produced.

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Sometimes when a scene is trimmed in editing (shortened in length for time) part of the acting may be carried into the scene that follows. This may not be noticed, as the action, music and dialog draw your attention away from the unintentional continuity error. To illustrate this, there is a scene(42) where McCoy hits Scotty on the head before running into the vortex of the Guardian of Forever. This part was cut, but the scene following it which was broadcast shows Scotty in a world of hurt from being hit. The following is a script excerpt of the cut scene, followed by a video of the scene which followed. From the script (final draft, Jan 27, 67):


(Vortex o.s.) Spock is interrupted by McCoy's sudden move. The doctor leaps to his feet, bowls Davis and The Security Guard out of his way...they are off balance and startled by his abrupt move. McCoy is headed for the time vortex. Spock immediately drops his Tricorder and, with Kirk, plunges forward to stop the doctor. Scott is trying to cut in from the side. Spock gets to McCoy first, but McCoy twists away from him, keeps going. As Scott closes from the side, McCoy slams him a glancing blow, enough to stagger the Engineer. Then Kirk is the only man between McCoy and the vortex. Kirk makes a flying dive for him but McCoy does a little dance-step of broken-field maneuvering and flings himself forward. Kirk just misses him, lands painfully...looks up:


And here is the video that follows.

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The following scene takes place right after Rodent (the gent who steals McCoy's phaser) accidentally vaporizes himself. On the back wall you'll notice a calendar. In the episode Edith mentions that the year is 1930, but the closest the calendar matches is November, 1928.


He pushes through one of the doors in the back of the main room. He is wearing a dirty apron, has his sleeves rolled up. He stops to mop his hands dry on the apron, glances up o. s. and pauses.


Kirk is coming through the outside door carrying a high pile of glasses and dishes in a tub. Edith holds the door, directs him to a bench so he can put them down. She tries to reach up to take some off the load, but Kirk pulls away, not allowing her to help. However, in pulling away, he promptly manages to drop half the dishes and glasses to the floor. A nerve ripping CRASH. As he stands there, looking in disgust at the mess of broken crockery, Edith reaches up to touch his shoulder comfortingly. At her touch, Kirk's face changes, softens.. a man caught by a stir of feeling for a woman.

CLOSE - SPOCK A shadow of concern drifts across his face.


walking, talking quietly. We cannot hear what they say... no one ever overhears lovers. Slowly, they reach toward one another and hold hands, still walking...

In the televised scene the deleted footage of the holding hands shot is used (see above), but is reversed so that the walking continuity from right to left matches the upcoming two shot of Kirk and Keeler. The problem with this is Kirk is now on the left side and Keeler is on the right. A shot of a radio repair shop, and then a close up of a radio, distracts the viewer from this continuity error before returning to a shot where Kirk is now on the right.

Original, Cut, Restored
"The City on the Edge of Forever" like all of the Star Trek episodes had background music but what stands out is that a song, "Goodnight Sweetheart," was used thematically for the first and only time throughout the episode by composer Fred Steiner. When "Goodnight Sweetheart" was originally released in 1931 ( even though Edith mentions the year is 1930. Creative license, I guess) it was number 1 in the charts.

Paramount let their rights to the song "Goodnight, Sweetheart" lapse and the recording was replaced in the1980s with new music composed for the episode, which also incorporated a song. The composer was J. Peter Robinson. He and the singer of that music were never credited. "Goodnight Sweetheart" was later restored for the DVD releases.

Individual pieces of a score are known as cues and have their own titles. Presented below are the music cues which used "Goodnight Sweetheart" as a theme and are without dialog. Following that are the replacement score cues (Alt.) used during the 1980's for comparison.

Lastly, a German version of "Goodnight Sweetheart," "Schlaf, mein Liebling." Imagine if McCoy had saved Edith's life. One wonders if they would be singing a different tune.

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More Music Minutia
Fred Stiener wanted to set the mood of the episode with a cue called "New York 1930".Presented here is the scene with the cue which was never used.

When an episode is scored it is reviewed by the producer. If a music cue isn't meeting expectations another music cue is usually picked from library music, a collection of generic recordings made specifcally for the series. This is what was done for this scene. This aired version of the episode used a library cue called "Humoresque," scored by Wilbur Hatch, who wrote a number of pieces of library music for Star Trek.

Learn more about the music used in Star Trek from our interview with Jeff Bond, of La-La Land records.

Mouse over the video on the right to access the play button.

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Uhura's armband
Uhura's Black Armband

Over the years people have speculated as to why Uhura has a black armband while on the Enterprise bridge at the beginning of this episode. At first glance one might think that she is in mourning as a black arm band is indicative of that but in this case it is worn below the elbow.

Later, on an alien planet, Uhura wears a black belt with an attached communicator.

Consider that the practice of Velcro belts were used extensively for attaching equipment in lieu of pockets in the episodes. It is this author's belief that the arm band was used to hold Uhura's communications earpiece. This would allow her to walk around the bridge without the burden of holding the earpiece when not in use.

The armband was never used again and one could imagine during the viewing of dailies that the first impression from those watching might think the armband was distracting for the same reasons mentioned above.




Thanks to Audrey A. and Joe L. for the "City on the Edge of Forever" clips.
Thanks to David E. for the "City on the Edge of Forever" script excerpts.
Thanks to La-La Land Records for selected music cues.

More deleted scenes.

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