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On Borrowed Time (1939)

Passed | | Drama, Fantasy | 7 July 1939 (USA)
A cantankerous old man takes in his beloved, orphaned grandson, whom he must protect at all costs, including from an agent of Death with the help of a magical apple tree.


Harold S. Bucquet


Alice D.G. Miller (screen play), Frank O'Neill (screen play) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Lionel Barrymore ... Julian Northrup - Gramps
Cedric Hardwicke ... Mr. Brink (as Sir Cedric Hardwicke)
Beulah Bondi ... Nellie - Granny
Una Merkel ... Marcia Giles
Bobs Watson ... Pud
Nat Pendleton ... Mr. Grimes
Henry Travers ... Dr. Evans
Grant Mitchell ... Mr. Pilbeam
Eily Malyon ... Demetria Riffle
James Burke ... Sheriff Burlingame
Charles Waldron Charles Waldron ... Reverend Murdock
Ian Wolfe ... Charles Wentworth
Phillip Terry ... Bill Lowry
Truman Bradley ... James Northrup


Young Pud is orphaned and left in the care of his aged grandparents. The boy and his cantankerous old grandfather become inseparable friends. But Gramps is concerned for his grandson's future and wary of a scheming relative who seeks Pud's custody. One day Mr. Brink--an agent of Death--arrives to take Gramps "to the land where the woodbine twineth." Through a bit of trickery, Gramps confines Mr. Brink, and thus Death, to the top of an old apple tree, giving Gramps extra time to resolve issues about Pud's future. Written by Thomas McWilliams <tgm@netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boy | tree | death | man in tree | heaven | See All (24) »


The Great Broadway Stage Hit Reaches The Screen


Drama | Fantasy


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 July 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Horas Roubadas 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 »

Did You Know?


This film received its initial television broadcast in Seattle Tuesday 16 October 1956 on KING (Channel 5); it first aired in Chicago 29 December 1956 on WBBM (Channel 2), in Philadelphia 19 February 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in New York City 11 March 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Minneapolis 19 May 1957 on KMGM (Channel 9), in Altoona PA 13 October 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in San Francisco 21 February 1958 on KGO (Channel 7) and in Los Angeles 5 June 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11). See more »


Julian Northrup: Well now, look here Mr. Brink, I don't like you and I wouldn't go with you to a rat fight!
See more »


Version of On Borrowed Time (1957) See more »


Beautiful Dreamer
Written by Stephen Foster
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User Reviews

Mr. Brink Desires A Few Moments With You
1 June 2000 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

Mr. Brink (Death) arrives to claim the soul of infirm, elderly Gramps Northrup. A magic trick, however, traps Mr. Brink in an apple tree and he is not able to descend. With all dying ceased around the world, old Gramps truly finds himself living ON BORROWED TIME.

This charming, albeit neglected, film holds many pleasures for the viewer. Aside from philosophical considerations - for instance, why is Mr. Brink intent on wiping out the Northrup clan? - the acting is particularly enjoyable. Lionel Barrymore, cantankerous & crotchety as Gramps, is a veritable volcano of emotions, barely contained in the wheelchair made necessary by the actor's crippling arthritis. Equally excellent, in an elegantly underplayed performance, is Sir Cedric Hardwicke as Mr. Brink. Suave, sophisticated & utterly urbane, he leaves an unforgettable impression.

The rest of the cast is also first rate: Una Merkel, Henry Travers, Nat Pendleton, Ian Wolfe, Grant Mitchell, little Bobs Watson, and especially wonderful Beulah Bondi as Granny & Eily Maylon, in arguably her finest role, as dreadful Aunt Demetria. Movie mavens will spot Hans Conried as the first motorist to pull over for Mr. Brink.

`Pismire,' by the way, is an Archaic Scandinavian word which means `ant urine.'

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