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Time without pity

Price: £11.00
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A shining example of a gritty noir thriller from director Joseph Losey. When Losey was blacklisted during the McCarthy era, he came to England to work. This was the first film he directed under his own name since the blacklist. It tells the tale of David Graham (Michael Redgrave), an alcoholic writer who has 24 hours to save his son Alec (Alec McCowan) from being hanged for murdering his girlfriend. Tyrannical car dealer Robert Stanford (Leo McKern) knows the truth of the matter, but keeps Graham on the defensive. As the hours count down, Graham must fight against both Stanford and his own addictions if he is to save his son's life.

An engrossing and very well-acted melodrama (particularly by Michael Redgrave, a BAFTA nominee, and Leo McKern), ostensibly a murder mystery but with a manifest position against capital punishment. Interestingly, the culprit is known from the very beginning but, saddled with an alcoholic hero, one is never sure whether he'll be able to prove his son's innocence of murder; the denouement, then, is terrific - as unexpected as it is ironic. Losey's expressionist style (aided by Freddie Francis's chiaroscuro cinematography) is in full sway here: actually, according to film critic Gerard Legrand - writing in "The Movie" - this was the film where the director really came into his own. It's undeniably a powerful film (it was adapted from a play by Emlyn Williams). Losey drives his actors to fever pitch and he has chosen a most capable cast - including Ann Todd, Alec McCowen, Peter Cushing, Renee' Houston, Lois Maxwell (the future Miss. Moneypenny), Joan Plowright, Peter Copley and Richard Wordsworth. There is also an amusing appearance by the comedian Dickie Henderson.

Michael Redgrave as the father of Alec MacGowan (who is on death row) trying to find out who actually committed the murder his son is charged with. Redgrave is an alcoholic, and a failed parent, and his every effort is stymied by hostility and stonewalling. But slowly he realizes that the guilty party is a millionaire car manufacturer played by Leo McKern. Peter Cushing also appears, as the solicitor who gradually becomes convinced that Redgrave knows what he's talking about. This is a great film, particularly for the ironic way that Redgrave finally turns the tables on McKern, making it impossible for McKern to escape punishment.

The film opens with a BEA plane landing at Heathrow Airport showing scenes inside the Terminal (2 I think) and the airport access tunnel.

There is also much here for the Crystal Palace historian. There are views across the Italian and Upper terraces (prior to the 1957 statue sale) so there is still a lot of statuary and vases on display, of the Panorama building (also known as the Rotunda), and an exciting high-speed drive along the Top Terrace and around the original race track by Leo McKern in a Mercedes-Benz SLR. The final scene takes place in the then only recently completed Crystal Palace television station badged as the offices of Stanford Motors.

The film was shot between 25 June and 28 July 1956.

*** stars

88 minutes Black & White