38 user 4 critic

The Time of Your Life (1948)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | 3 September 1948 (USA)
A wide variety of persons come into Nick's Pacific Street Saloon, some to ask for work and others just to pass the time.



(Pulitzer Prize play), (adapted for the screen)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph T. (who observes people)
Nick (Saloon Owner Who Loves Horses)
Tom (Joe's stooge and friend)
Krupp (a bewildered policeman)
McCarthy (a blatherskite)
Harry (the natural-born tap dancing comedian)
Mary L. (a woman of quality)
Dudley Raoul Bostwick (a young man in love) (as James Lydon)
Willie (the pinball machine maniac)
Arab Philosopher
Wesley (the pianist)
John 'Skins' Miller ...
Freddy Blick (a stool pigeon and frame-up artist)


Joe spends a lot of his time at Nick's Pacific Street Saloon. Tom, who credits Joe with once saving his life, stops by regularly to run errands for Joe. Today, Tom notices a woman named Kitty when she comes into Nick's, and he quickly falls in love with her. Meanwhile, a distraught young man repeatedly calls his girlfriend, begging her to marry him. Nick himself muses on all the various persons who come into his bar, some to ask for work and others just to pass the time. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


You'll love these wonderful characters! See more »


Comedy | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 September 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El tiempo de tu vida  »

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Turner library print) | (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


During the Broadway season of 1939-1940, the role of Harry was played by then-unknown Gene Kelly. See more »


When the cowboy gets a beer from Joe, he drinks almost all of it, but leaves about an inch at the bottom in each glass. But, when he scoops up all the glasses on the table and takes them back to the bar, they are almost all completely empty. See more »


[The newsboy is singing When Irish Eyes Are Smiling]
Nick: Are you Irish?
Newsboy: No, I'm Greek.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown on the pages of a book, through which someone is flipping. See more »


Version of The Time of Your Life (1976) See more »


What Is This Thing Called Love?
(1929) (uncredited)
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter
Played on piano by Reginald Beane
Sung by Jeanne Cagney
See more »

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User Reviews

The Friendly Tavern
19 July 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

James Cagney had an affinity for nostalgic type stories and if The Time of Your Life is a contemporary piece for 1939 when it made its Broadway debut, it has a nostalgic feel to it.

No real plot here, just a whole group of character studies about the various habitués of Nick's Place on the San Francisco Embarcadero in the Thirties. The observer here is Joe, a man who just whiles a way the hours observing humankind in the bar with no visible means of support. He must be a retired civil servant on a pension like me. Maybe that's why I like the film so much.

Two members of the original Broadway cast did the film version, Reginald Beane the black piano player and William Bendix as Nick, owner and proprietor of the place. By that time Bendix was a big star with The Life of Riley on radio and he must have cost Cagney a bundle. But Bill Bendix is always worth it.

The villain of the piece is Tom Powers who either played thugs or policemen in film. As Blick, he's a bottom feeding scuzzball who either informs on people or blackmails them depending on how he can make some dirty money. In this case he focuses on a young woman with a shady past played by the star's sister Jeanne Cagney. It's probably her best film role.

Someone else remarked in a review that he thought it was timely that The Time of Your Life came out in 1948 as the McCarthy era was getting underway. True enough, but I believe that author William Saroyan had a specific political target in mind in 1939 in Congressman Martin Dies who headed the House Un-American Activities Committee when it was created in the late Thirties. Dies was that kind of a bullying interrogator that Blick is in the play.

Paul Draper who was the dancer/comedian in the cast was in fact blacklisted shortly after this came out. On Broadway his part was played by Gene Kelly. I guess getting Kelly from MGM would have blown Cagney's whole budget in 1948.

The Time of Your Life has always struck me as kind of an anti-The Iceman Cometh another play set in a tavern. But that one is by Eugene O'Neill and no one ever accused O'Neill of being optimistic. O'Neill's characters in his play are as pessimistic a lot as Saroyan's are optimistic. The two works really ought to be seen back to back.

The tavern as a setting for theater has a tradition that goes from Falstaff to Cheers. The Time of Your Life is an honorable addition to the tradition.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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