17 user 8 critic

Turn Back the Clock (1933)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 25 August 1933 (USA)
Joe and Mary barely get by with their tobacco store. After an old friend returns now married to wealthy Elvina, Joe wishes he married her instead when he had the chance. Will he be happy when his wish comes true?


Edgar Selwyn


Edgar Selwyn (screen play), Ben Hecht (screen play)




Complete credited cast:
Lee Tracy ... Joe Gimlet
Mae Clarke ... Mary Gimlet / Mary Wright
Otto Kruger ... Ted Wright
George Barbier ... Pete Evans
Peggy Shannon ... Elvina Wright / Elvina Gimlet
C. Henry Gordon ... Dave Holmes
Clara Blandick ... Joe's Mother


Joe and Mary run a tobacco store and are just scraping by. When old friend Ted comes into the store, they renew their friendship, even though Ted is now wealthy and married to Elvira, whom Joe could have married himself, and become the rich one. After a domestic squabble Joe is hit by a car, and when he wakes up he is 20 years younger and can rectify his error and marry Elvina and her money. He does, relives his life as a wealthy man who still remembers his 'other' life, and what happened during those years. In the end he realizes that he isn't as happy as he was formerly, and things come to a head when his 'new' life catches up with his old one. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Howl from Start to Finish! Tracy at his Breeziest! (Print Ad-Woodville Republican, ((Woodville,Miss.)) 4 November 1933)) See more »


Comedy | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


First appearance of Curly Howard with the Three Stooges in a full-length feature film. See more »


President Woodrow Wilson's letter asking for Joe Gimlet's resignation misspells his last name as "Gimlett". See more »


Joe Gimlet: What are we havin' for dinner?
Mary Gimlet: How would you like corned beef and cabbage?
Joe Gimlet: I don't like it.
Mary Gimlet: Well, that's what you're gonna get.
See more »


Referenced in Fugitive Lovers (1934) See more »


You're the Flower of My Heart, Sweet Adeline
(1903) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Armstrong
Lyrics by Richard H. Gerard
Played on piano by an unidentified man and Sung by Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Moe Howard at the wedding party
See more »

User Reviews

Some unclearness here on the "relive your life" plot
10 June 2020 | by meaninglessnameSee all my reviews

There's a good old time travel plot where the protagonist is given, by God, Saint Peter or other supernatural agency, the chance to go back in time and change his life, either to improve his circumstances or to avert a disaster. To make things interesting, there should be some kind of twist. His efforts to improve things only make them worse, or his efforts to prevent the disaster cause it to happen.

This early entry in the genre blows it from the beginning by making it clear that the return to the past is only an ether-induced dream, so we know that it really isn't going to change events. It still has its effect on the hero, in the sense of "be careful what you wish for" but it loses some of the impact of similar plots where we assume that he has no way of returning to the old status quo.

Still there's always fun to be had in the situation of the man who knows everything that's going to happen without anyone believing him. In this instance he does get to use his knowledge to gain a measure of fame and fortune and there are some comic bits, that not all of today's audience would understand, when he slips and starts talking about historical events yet to happen, like World War One, Prohibition and the stock market crash to uncomprehending friends and family. In fact, this is a bit overdone and you being to wonder why he seems to be too dumb to remember what year he's in.

Bottom line, a fun watch but inconsistent and missed opportunities for a catchier plot.

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Release Date:

25 August 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Turn Back the Clock See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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