7.6/10
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Death Takes a Holiday (1971)

Death takes a human form and visits Earth to try to find out why humans want so desperately to cling to life. He unexpectedly falls in love with a beautiful young woman.

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Cast

Cast overview:
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Peggy Chapman
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David Smith
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Selena Chapman
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John Cummings
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Judge Earl Chapman
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Senator Earl Chapman, Jr.
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Marion Chapman
Austin Willis ...
Martin Herndon
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Tony Chapman
Maureen Reagan ...
Ellen Chapman
Regis Cordic ...
TV Announcer
Mario Machado ...
TV Announcer
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Storyline

Death takes a human form and visits Earth to try to find out why humans want so desperately to cling to life. He unexpectedly falls in love with a beautiful young woman.

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Genres:

Fantasy | Drama

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23 October 1971 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

John Cummings: You do take too many chances.
Peggy Chapman: Now how many is too many? I mean, you don't know until you take the last one, do you? And then that could be the first time or the hundredth
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Connections

Remake of Death Takes a Holiday (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Much more than a cheap remake!
20 June 2007 | by (Salida, California, U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

It is easy to dismiss this film as a cheap remake of the original Fredric March vehicle, but there is so much more here than simple recapitulation!

The story is timeless. It takes a very definite philosophical stance on a subject which will always be relevant to all of us. Namely, how shall we cope with our own deaths when the reality confronts us?

What impressed me most about this production was the way in which death was presented. Death appears here as a gentle, benign presence. This presentation is a far cry from the monstrous horror we have come to expect from death. Death in this film is not a Grim Reaper wishing to engulf us in his inevitability. He wishes only to present himself as a fact of life. To understand himself and be understood by others as an experience which has a unique time and place for everyone. Occurring not one moment sooner nor later than necessary, and then as something not to be feared, but rather embraced in its turn.

There are other reasons to watch this rare production of the story. The fine cast: the beautiful Yvette Mimieux is in her prime here and perfect for the title role. I say "title role" because there is actually a dual title role here. It is the interaction between Yvette Mimieux's character and Monte Markham as Death that sets up the central dilemma that drives the picture. Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas are fine in supporting roles. Laurindo Almeida's haunting score creates an atmosphere of romantic suspense even while it facilitates contemplation.

So why doesn't this production have a better reputation? I suspect it's because, while the actors fulfill their roles admirably, they do so in a nuts and bolts manner which lacks drama. This production of the story is therefore out of step with the prevailing value in Hollywood: entertainment. For maximum entertainment value, a picture with greater dramatic impact is preferable.

Nevertheless, it is testimony to the dramatic impact and eternal relevance of this story that it has been remade several times since with great success, most notably in "Meet Joe Black." "Death Takes A Holiday" is a fine, underrated film which I give three stars!


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