Death Takes a Holiday (1971)

TV Movie  |   |  Fantasy, Drama  |  23 October 1971 (USA)
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Reviews: 11 user | 1 critic

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


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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Fantasy | Drama





Release Date:

23 October 1971 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


David Smith: [Peggy has tried to throw herself off the cliff] Peggy! What were you trying to do?
Peggy Chapman: You know what I was trying to do.
David Smith: Why? Why would you want to?
Peggy Chapman: [she touches his face] I thought you'd look different... but you don't.
David Smith: He told you?
Peggy Chapman: Yes.
David Smith: And now?
Peggy Chapman: I don't know... I was so frightened at first, so many things bouncing around in my head and then... absolute stillness inside. There were no more questions I had to ask.
David Smith: But you still haven't told me why! Why this?
Peggy Chapman: Because I wanted to leave with you.
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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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