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The Time of Your Life

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The Time of Your Life (1948) starring James Cagney, William Bendix, Wayne Morris
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The Time of Your Life (1948) starring James Cagney, William Bendix, Wayne Morris

The Time of Your Life is a very interesting, very different movie. It involves a small central cast who sit and watch, and occasionally comment, on the various people who come in and out of a bar. Some people have compared it to the television series Cheers but other than the setting, the two really don’t have anything in common. The Time of Your Life is frankly more like Seinfeld — the comedy that seemingly doesn’t have a plot, and simply showcases the lives of the various characters. If anything, The Time of Your Life is better, because we actually get to see glimpses of the stories of the various secondary characters, which are compelling.  And for other characters — we don’t.

And characters they are — all interesting to watch:

  • Joseph T. (James Cagney – the central character who observes people, and occasionally intervenes in small ways)
  • Nick (William Bendix – the saloon owner who loves horses)
  • Tom (Wayne Morris – Joe’s stooge and friend, an amiable but unmotivated man, who falls in love with …)
  • Kitty Duval (Jeanne Cagney – stage name of Katerina Koronovsky, former vaudeville dancer, who doesn’t think she’s good enough for Tom)
  • Krupp (Broderick Crawford – a bewildered policeman)
  • Kit Carson (James Barton – a cowboy also called Murphy, who loves to spin yarns)
  • Harry (Paul Draper – the natural-born tap dancing comedian, whose dancing is far superior to his stand-up comedy)
  • Tippler (John ‘Skins’ Miller – a regular, who is perpetually stupefied — and funny to watch)
  • Society couple (Howard Freeman, Natalie Schafer – who are “slumming” and want to see how the lower class lives)

In all, The Time of Your Life is a delight to watch, with excellent performances all around; one of those movies that moves effortlessly from comedy to drama to pathos to slapstick.

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