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Joe spends a lot of his time at Nick's Pacific Street Saloon. Tom, who credits Joe with once saving his life, stops by regularly to run errands for Joe. Today, Tom notices a woman named Kitty when she comes into Nick's, and he quickly falls in love with her. Meanwhile, a distraught young man repeatedly calls his girlfriend, begging her to marry him. Nick himself muses on all the various persons who come into his bar, some to ask for work and others just to pass the time.Written by
McCarthy (Ward Bond) is labeled as a "blatherskite" in the opening credits. The Oxford Dictionary defines a blatherskite as "a person who talks at great length without making much sense". See more »
Joe points his gun at Blick and pulls the trigger. And when it doesn't go off he says "That dumb Tom. He buys a six shooter that won't even shoot once". Even though he knows he loaded and unloaded the gun early in the film. And it happens to be a gun that only holds 5 cartridges. See more »
Living is an art, it's not bookkeeping. It takes an awful lot of rehearsal for a man to get to be himself.
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Opening credits are shown on the pages of a book, through which someone is flipping. See more »
James Cagney had an affinity for nostalgic type stories and if The Time of Your Life is a contemporary piece for 1939 when it made its Broadway debut, it has a nostalgic feel to it.
No real plot here, just a whole group of character studies about the various habitués of Nick's Place on the San Francisco Embarcadero in the Thirties. The observer here is Joe, a man who just whiles a way the hours observing humankind in the bar with no visible means of support. He must be a retired civil servant on a pension like me. Maybe that's why I like the film so much.
Two members of the original Broadway cast did the film version, Reginald Beane the black piano player and William Bendix as Nick, owner and proprietor of the place. By that time Bendix was a big star with The Life of Riley on radio and he must have cost Cagney a bundle. But Bill Bendix is always worth it.
The villain of the piece is Tom Powers who either played thugs or policemen in film. As Blick, he's a bottom feeding scuzzball who either informs on people or blackmails them depending on how he can make some dirty money. In this case he focuses on a young woman with a shady past played by the star's sister Jeanne Cagney. It's probably her best film role.
Someone else remarked in a review that he thought it was timely that The Time of Your Life came out in 1948 as the McCarthy era was getting underway. True enough, but I believe that author William Saroyan had a specific political target in mind in 1939 in Congressman Martin Dies who headed the House Un-American Activities Committee when it was created in the late Thirties. Dies was that kind of a bullying interrogator that Blick is in the play.
Paul Draper who was the dancer/comedian in the cast was in fact blacklisted shortly after this came out. On Broadway his part was played by Gene Kelly. I guess getting Kelly from MGM would have blown Cagney's whole budget in 1948.
The Time of Your Life has always struck me as kind of an anti-The Iceman Cometh another play set in a tavern. But that one is by Eugene O'Neill and no one ever accused O'Neill of being optimistic. O'Neill's characters in his play are as pessimistic a lot as Saroyan's are optimistic. The two works really ought to be seen back to back.
The tavern as a setting for theater has a tradition that goes from Falstaff to Cheers. The Time of Your Life is an honorable addition to the tradition.
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