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The Price of Life (1988)

The hours of your life as a currency you can buy or sell, trade or squander ...


Stephen Tolkin


Michel Montreaux (story), Stephen Tolkin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dana Andersen Dana Andersen ... Alice
Diana Bellamy ... Mother
Roy Brocksmith ... The Old One
Ron Campbell Ron Campbell ... Stiles
Dustin Diamond ... Young Stiles
Elizabeth Farley Elizabeth Farley ... Customer #2
John Fleck ... Walter
Ray Galvin Ray Galvin ... Old Man
Danna Garen Danna Garen ... Old Woman
Willie Garson ... Father
Judy Geeson ... Anthea
Richard Green ... Gambler
Julia Wilk Itzin Julia Wilk Itzin ... Alice at age 4
Briana Ziegler Briana Ziegler ... Baby Zachary
Coleby Lombardo Coleby Lombardo ... Young Ned


The hours of your life as a currency you can buy or sell, trade or squander ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

time | slot machine | money | See All (3) »


Short | Drama | Sci-Fi







Release Date:

April 1988 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Chanticleer Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Edited into American Playhouse: Triple Play II (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting but lacks development and seems heavily influence by the Right
21 December 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In the future money is not the most valuable commodity – nor stocks nor shares. Instead the currency of choice is time and the populace are able to trade hours, days and weeks off their lives in exchange for services and goods. Into this world is born baby Zachary – who grows into a little boy with a game plan and a scheme to make more time; whereas his sister swaps weeks for sweets etc as if it didn't matter. As adults, Zachary has continued this path, but so has his sister and he finds himself trying to challenge the rules to try and save her and his mother.

The film opens with a strange moment that becomes clearer a few seconds later when we realise that time is everything here. The film continues this thread by setting up the characters in a childhood section that, although not totally successful, is at least pretty interesting. The adult bit is immediately compelling on two levels thanks to the death – that it is so shocking but also that it is accepted by those around the deceased as a normal event (the waiter is particularly cruel). The final section of the film is less clear as it involves the smart woman and the "old ones", neither of whom are really that explained – it also reveals a rather American aspect to the film in how it looks at people. The "haves" live long while the poor are forced to give up their time to them in exchange for life – from here on in it is best if we read (as we are meant to) time for money.

Baring this in mind I didn't think much of the film's conclusion that everyone gets the same start in life and those who die young deserve it. This view is typically American, where anyone can be famous, rich or even President, however in the UK I think we know the structure better than that. In reality those born into homes with debt of time/money cannot ever get out, whereas those who are born into wealth etc will have a better chance – there are exceptions of course but this is mainly true. The film taking this line (we have only ourselves to blame) is rather clumsy and unpleasant and it takes away from the rest of the film. The cast are OK and features some good actors, including a cameo for Fred Ward.

Overall this is a very interesting film that is bleak and looks good (on a budget) despite not coming together quite as well as it should have done. It is still worth seeing but the lack of development and explanation in the final section is a problem, especially when combined with a rather harsh viewpoint – not a socialist future then?

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