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Time Without Pity
Time Without Pity
Actors: Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Leo McKern, Paul Daneman, Peter Cushing
Director: Joseph Losey
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
UR     2004     1hr 25min

Tension rises to a fevered pitch in Joseph Losey?s ingenious thriller about an alcoholic who has one day to save his son from the gallows. The distinguished cast features Michael Redgrave (The Browning Version) in the lead...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Leo McKern, Paul Daneman, Peter Cushing
Director: Joseph Losey
Creators: Freddie Francis, Alan Osbiston, Anthony Simmons, John Arnold, Leon Clore, Ben Barzman, Emlyn Williams
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Homevision
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 03/30/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Solid early thriller from director Joseph Losey
Tryavna | North Carolina | 01/25/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As the previous reviewer has pointed out, this is a compact thriller with a notable cast of then up-and-coming British stars and one of Michael Redgrave's best lead performances. What's most interesting is how little attention this DVD from Home Vision Entertainment has received since it was released last year. I suppose it's an indication of just how low director Joseph Losey's stock currently is, which is really a shame -- considering how highly regarded he was in the 1960s and 70s. I'd characterize Losey as an intellectual and socially conscious version of Alfred Hitchcock. Many of Losey's movies can be broadly classified as thrillers or films noir, but in all of them character development trumps plot (as in Redgrave's recovering alcoholic) and Losey always makes some point about wider social conditions (here the target is capital punishment). If you don't know Losey's work, then Time Without Pity is a great place to start.

HVE's visual transfer is first-rate -- like most of their British catalogue. Unlike their sister company Criterion, however, the sound always seems a little on the weak side. That's probably due in large part to the overall inferiority of British sound recording equipment in the 1950s. The only real surprise is that the movie is presented full-frame instead of letterbox. I always assumed that the British film industry had adopted the widescreen format by 1955 or 1956. But maybe Losey opted for the older format for its easier handling during on-location shooting (which there's a lot of in this movie).

The only extra is the totally bizarre promotional short for Standard Oil "Pete Roleum and His Cousins," a frenetic 16-minute homage to the many incarnations of oil. It's billed as Losey's first directorial effort, which is true. But surprisingly, HVE misses the point: The real genius behind this short was a completely wacko stop-motion animator from the silent days named Charles Bowers, who remains just about the only serious rival of Ray Harryhausen and Willis O'Brien. (I suspect that Losey had very little to do with the conception or execution of this movie.) It's definitely worth a look, but be warned: It's missing the live narration that apparently accompanied the live showings at the 1939 World's Fair. Consequently, it doesn't make very much sense.

As for the main feature, this DVD is a sturdy treatment of the movie, especially since HVE has recently lowered the prices of most of their titles."
Gripping British Thriller
peterfromkanata | Kanata, Ontario Canada | 05/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Time Without Pity", a tense British film noir, was directed by Joseph Losey, and released theatrically in 1957. An unsuccessful British author (Michael Redgrave) returns to England from Canada in a last-ditch effort to save his son from the gallows. His son's girlfriend was murdered. The son was arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. He will be hanged within 24 hours, unless new evidence can be found to put the guilty verdict in doubt. Racing against time, Mr. Redgrave confronts various people connected to his son, in a desperate attempt to find the truth before his son is executed. His efforts are complicated by his own battle with alcoholism, and the disdain of the son he is trying to save.

While the whole cast is strong, Michael Redgrave gives a shattering performance that you will not forget. Leo McKern is also powerful as a sleazy auto dealer who--like other characters in this film--knows a lot more than he is willing to divulge. A young Joan Plowright is cast as a showgirl, and you will also see a "pre-Miss Moneypenny" Lois Maxwell as McKern's glamourous secretary. Peter Cushing is appropriately stoic as the lawyer who unsuccessfully defended the son.

The DVD exhibits a decent B & W picture--I found that I had to adjust the sound level a couple of times.

Whether you like old-fashioned thrillers, classic British cinema or the bravura performance of a great actor, "Time Without Pity" deserves your attention. Recommended.

A sad footnote, dated 1 October 2007--Lois Maxwell just passed away. To be forever remembered as the quintessential Miss Moneypenny in the classic Bond films, this gracious lady will be missed."
Excellent Noir Drama
Troy R. Howarth | 08/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"An alcoholic (Michael Redgrave) has twenty-four hours to prove his son (Alec McCowen) is innocent and save him from the gallows...

Wisconsin-born director Joseph Losey had established himself as a highly original director of B thrillers and socially conscious drama in America before he fled from the communist witch hunt spearheaded by Senator McCarthy; he then found himself blacklisted, and would never make another film on American soil. Relocating in England, Losey directed several pictures under assumed names before finally being allowed to sign his own name on the gripping melodrama, Time without Pity. Blessed with an excellent cast that included Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Leo McKern, Peter Cushing and Alec McCowen, as well as a topnotch crew headed by the brilliant cinematographer Freddie Francis, Losey made the most of the socially-committed anti-death penalty scenario. Realized in the best film noir tradition, the film traces its tragically flawed protagonist as he fights desperately for his son's life. Any pretense of mystery is dispelled in the opening scene - we know from the get-go that McCowen is innocent, and who the real killer is - with Losey choosing instead to highlight the inefficiency of the legal system. The end result is marred only by the occasional intrusion of cliche and melodrama, elements that would subsequently vanish from Losey's work when he was teamed with the gifted playwrite Harold Pinter for some of his best known pictures, and stands out as one of the director's best early works. Highly recommended."
Time Without Pity
John Farr | 06/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In this nail-biting drama from blacklisted director Losey, Redgrave is aces as a father desperate to exonerate his son from a senselessly brutal crime. Jittery, sick, and trying to do anything but drink, Graham is a loose cannon who starts to get somewhere when he interrogates Alan's best friend, Brian Stanford (Paul Daneman), and learns that Brian's wealthy, adoptive father Robert (Leo McKern, in a menacing turn) may have something to hide. Working from a taut, streamlined script, Losey keeps the emotions raw and the tension high."