Entertainment Magazine

Time Without Pity

Posted on the 24 March 2017 by Christopher Saunders
Time Without PityTime Without Pity (1957) marked Joseph Losey's second British film, having fled America due to the blacklist. It's a remarkable race-against-time thriller, anchored by Michael Redgrave's faultless acting.
Alec Graham (Alec McCowen) is scheduled to hang at midnight for murdering his girlfriend Jenny. His father David (Michael Redgrave), an alcoholic writer recently released from a sanitarium, tries against all odds to save him. He enlists the help of Alec's friend Brian Stanford (Paul Daneman), adopted son of auto magnate Robert Stanford (Leo McKern) and his wife Honor (Ann Todd). Through his efforts, David finds just enough doubt to poke holes in Alec's conviction. But can he uncover the "tangible evidence" necessary to stay Alec's execution?
The contours of Time Without Pity aren't entirely original, but Losey's crisp, effective staging makes it work. Ben Barzman's screenplay cranks along, allowing David to interrogate witnesses and badger officials with reckless aplomb. The main difference, however, is that David's at wit's end, trembling from exhaustion and staving off his cravings for alcohol; just standing upright becomes a chore, let alone navigating Britain's torturous legal system. He's an extremely unlikely hero, yet his dogged determination overcomes all obstacles.
Losey and Barzman (adapting an Emlyn Williams play) interject some social commentary, as a glad-handing MP (Richard Wordsworth) inveighs against capital punishment and Honor makes eloquent pleas to stay Alec's execution. But Time's real meat comes in its warped familial relationships: Alec alternately worships and damns David, reckoning that his own death means nothing. Understandable given the circumstances, it's benign compared to the Stanford's nightmarish situation, with Robert openly cheating on Honor and Honor, perversely, carrying a torch for the much-younger Alec. Only David transcends these dynamics, making an unlikely sacrifice.
Losey's direction is far less affected than his later works, his auteur touches organic rather than preening showmanship. The opening shows Jenny's murder in a long take drowned out by Tristram Cary's eerie score, a favored Losey device. He makes effective use of a High Noon-ish clock motif and repeated use of mirrors, emphasizing both the driving plot and disconnect between its character. Freddie Francis's photography makes exceptional use of long takes, often disguised within seemingly banal sequences: the finale is quietly brilliant, Losey offering a wide shot that lays bare all the twistedness within the Stanford clan, and David's central role in their dissolution.
Michael Redgrave is startlingly effective, conveying a driving desperation and physical weakness that threaten to cancel each other out. He receives excellent support from a game cast: Peter Cushing as a kindly lawyer, Alec McCowen as David's tormented son, Joan Plowright and Lois Maxwell as key witnesses. Leo McKern's monstrous mood swings and bellowed insecurities overwhelm Ann Todd's sweet sentimentality. George Devine, the theater impresario, has a minor role as well.
Time Without Pity crams an awful lot into an 88 minute runtime, blending swift storytelling with well-wrought characterization. It's a near-perfect thriller.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • IIIT Delhi Placement Analysis

    IIIT Delhi Placement Analysis

    IIIT Delhi is a Delhi based technical university which is creating the buzz for last few years in the country in terms of placement, education culture, faculty... Read more

    6 hours, 36 minutes ago by   Ssankarr
  • Heavy Rockers, Ozone Mama, Announce New Headlining European Tour and Welcome...

    Heavy Rockers, Ozone Mama, Announce Headlining European Tour Welcome Singer

    Big things are bristling on the horizon for Ripple Music's, Ozone Mama!After releasing their critically acclaimed, best-selling album, "Cosmos Calling" with... Read more

    9 hours, 38 minutes ago by   Ripplemusic
  • Train Travels: Malaysia to Thailand

    Train Travels: Malaysia Thailand

    I have now covered this route a bunch of times through the years, having travelled overland from as far as Singapore, up to the... Read more

    9 hours, 57 minutes ago by   Allanmwilson
  • Random Bits of Nature (Snake Warning)

    Random Bits Nature (Snake Warning)

    A very tiny toad -- less than in inch. Blacksnakes kill by constriction. This was an ex-chipmunk by the time I saw it. Read more

    11 hours, 8 minutes ago by   Vickilane
  • Duck Duck Go Founder Asks Google to Sell Them Duck.com

    Duck Founder Asks Google Sell Them Duck.com

    So there was an interesting article on CNET today about Duck.com. Google acquired the domain back in 2010 when they acquired ON2. But there is confusion, most... Read more

    11 hours, 40 minutes ago by   Worldwide
  • Concert Review: A Grand Night for D Major

    Concert Review: Grand Night Major

    Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the National Youth Orchestra.</> by Paul J. Pelkonen The players wore red pants: The National Youth Orchestra.Photo © 2018... Read more

    17 hours, 12 minutes ago by   Superconductor
  • OMG - OH My Greenery 24x7

    Greenery 24x7

    Here OMG stands for Office, Home, Market Yard, and Ground. These places by the human being created to secure their social activities. Mostly human destroy the... Read more

    17 hours, 26 minutes ago by   Saurabh Verma