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Joseph M. Newman
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Military investigator Colonel Edwards is assigned a case involving Major Cargill, a Korean War POW who is accused of treason. Although Cargill admits his guilt and Edwards' superiors are impatiently pushing Edwards to move this case to court martial, Edwards becomes convinced of Cargill's innocence. Written by
Marty McKee <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Miller throws his punch, it clearly misses to the left even though the victim's head snaps back. See more »
Maj. Harry Cargill:
A man can be a hero all his life, but if in the last month of it, or the last week, or even the last minute, the pressure becomes too great and he breaks, then he's branded for life. You can't ask a man to be a hero forever. There ought to be a time limit.
Lt. Gen. J. Connors:
There is no defense for treason.
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I had seen Time Limit three times before, always greatly admiring and appreciating the taut court-martial drama. I find it unfortunate that Malden never took another director's turn after such an impressive debut. The acting and direction still hold up well with tour-de-force performances by Basehart and Widmark. These are complemented nicely by dead-on portrayals by Carl Benton Reid, Rip Torn, Martin Balsam, and Yale Wexler as far less humane military characters. Dolores Costello and June Lockhart also give strong performances.
But, the reason I write this today is to comment upon how timely Time Limit is to today's POW controversies. In this regard, I consider the 1962 film "the Hook" with Kirk Douglas almost as a companion piece. The questions are the same. How far should a soldier suppress his humanity in the name of the Army Code? How accountable should a soldier be held who defies the code in order to act in accordance with his conscience? How accountable should a soldier be held who obeys orders later judged to be inhumane? All these are central issues in wake of the recent Abu Gharib controversies.
Time Limit does an excellent job of examining these dilemmas and convincing those of us who weren't already convinced that there are no easy answers. War, by its nature, is an inhumane activity, ordered by humans and executed by humans who to accomplish their orders must deny within themselves subjugate the very humanity that gives each of us his or her purpose in life. Time Limit and The Hook both provide thoughtful and fairly objective examinations of the issues involved.
Time Limit has always been worth watching. Its renewed relevancy just makes it even more so.
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