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  • Time Without Pity [1957] [DVD]
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Time Without Pity [1957] [DVD]

4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Michael Redgrave, Leo McKern, Ann Todd, Peter Cushing, Paul Daneman
  • Directors: Joseph Losey
  • Writers: Ben Barzman, Emlyn Williams
  • Format: Dolby, PAL, Black & White, Full Screen, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 21 April 2008
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0013K8FK8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,616 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

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.


Rather hysterical but 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 were the director really came into his own; I can't vouch for that myself since I have yet to watch three important films he made earlier i.e. THE PROWLER (1951) and M (1951), both Hollywood productions, and THE SLEEPING TIGER (1954), Losey's first effort following his relocation to Britain. It's undeniably a powerful film though relatively verbose (it was adapted from a play by Emlyn Williams); like I said, 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, Joan Plowright, Peter Copley and Richard Wordsworth! The only false note throughout, perhaps, is to be found in the score by Tristram Cary - which is so over-the-top that, at times, it even drowns out the dialogue!

I finally caught this interesting little film about six months ago on Turner Classic films. This is based on one of Emlyn Williams twisty murder plays (like his classic, NIGHT MUST FALL). Here we have 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 (a welcome normal role for the horror film star). I recommend the film, particularly for the ironic way that Redgrave finally turns the tables on McKern, making it impossible for McKern to escape punishment.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 April 2014
Format: DVD
Time Without Pity is directed by Joseph Losey and adapted to screenplay by Ben Barzman from the Emlyn Williams play Someone Waiting. It stars Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Leo McKern, Paul Daneman, Peter Cushing, Alec McCowen, Renee Houston and Lois Maxwell. Music is by Tristram Cary and cinematography by Freddie Francis.

David Graham (Redgrave) is a recovering alcoholic who comes out of the sanitarium to try and prove his son is innocent of murder. His son, Alec (McCowen), is to be hanged in 24 hours for the slaying of his girlfriend. David finds he is constantly met with brick walls and his sobriety is tested at every turn, but salvation may lie with the suspicious Stanford family...

Blacklisted in America, Joseph Losey went to the UK and made a number of films under various pseudonyms, Time Without Pity marked the first time he would put his own name to the production. It's also a film that stands tall as another of Losey's excellent British offerings.

Losey and his team do not make a murder mystery, from the off we see who the killer is and it's not young Alec Graham. This is a device that in the wrong hands has often over the years proved costly, where viewers looking for suspense have been sorely short changed. What happens here is that we are privy to an investigation by a man in misery, battling his demons as he frantically searches for redemption.

Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Shunned by his estranged son, who would rather be hanged for a crime he didn't commit than accept his "waster" father's help - that might in turn give him false hope, David Graham is a haunted being who is closer to solving the case than he knows.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Mercy on 16 Oct. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
One of the first movies that blacklisted Hollywood director Joseph Losey made following his relocation to Britain in the mid-1950s, Time Without Pity (1957) stars Michael Redgrave as an anguished, alcoholic father trying desperately to clear his son Alec McCowen of a murder he didn't commit. It's not an especially remarkable film, certainly lacking the depth of Losey's more challenging later efforts like The Servant (1963) and Accident (1967), and even the offbeat touches he brought to more straightforward genre pictures like the mystery thriller Blind Date (1959) and the bonkers Hammer sci-fi epic The Damned (1963), but given the talent involved, it's certainly never less than watchable.
The movie is actually connected to the house of Hammer in a number of ways, as it features a strong, villainous performance from Leo McKern (who'd recently completed work on the 1956 Hammer horror X The Unknown, from which Losey was fired under mysterious circumstances), plus appearances by Ann Todd (1961's Taste of Fear), The Quatermass Xperiment's Richard Wordsworth, and even Peter Cushing (as McCowen's lawyer), as well as some atmospheric photography from future Hammer director Freddie Francis. On the debit side, however, the eternally languid Redgrave doesn't really appear all that fired-up, McCowen is a trifle hammy, and the film is blighted by some incredibly intrusive incidental music that has a habit of kicking in over several key scenes of dialogue, not to mention a pre-credits sequence that gives away the ending before the movie has even started. Still, for such a little-known film to get a release on DVD must be regarded as a plus, and fans of Losey, Cushing, and especially McKern will find plenty here to keep them interested.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shane Hyde on 10 Sept. 2013
Format: DVD
It's not Loseys best - it feels like a rough sketch of a movie that was done on the cheap - but it has a good cast, a great performance from Redgrave and a powerful ending. It doesnt quite work as a criticism of capital punishment but it's definitely worth watching and a prime film for a remake.
The 2008 Odeon Entertainment DVD has no extras, just the film, which is 85mins long.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Wilberfalse on 30 Sept. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When I first watched this film some two or three years back I must have been in an extraordinarily relaxed frame of mind since I managed to see it through to the end. This time is different. I had hoped the inane music score would become less obtrusive as the film progressed; instead it quite obliterates the dialogue in some scenes as to make the thing not worth the candle. A great pity for a good story and production in every other respect has been made inaccessible to me henceforth!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Gripping British Thriller 27 May 2004
By peterfromkanata - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Solid early thriller from director Joseph Losey 25 Jan. 2005
By Tryavna - Published on
Format: DVD
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Noir Drama 11 Aug. 2007
By Troy R. Howarth - Published on
Format: DVD
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Time Without Pity 27 Jun. 2007
By John Farr - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
JOSEPH LOSEY, OPUS 9 8 Mar. 2012
By Daniel S. - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A lot of mirrors in this adaptation of a stage play. I must confess that the idea of an investigation made by a man who's drunk half the time is original and that Michael Redgrave deserved the BAFTA nomination he earned for his performance. I also liked a lot the hysterical behaviour of Leo McKern. in short, it's a kind of 24 Hours shot more than 50 years ago. Cinema always arises from its own ashes. Recommended.
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