Sunday, January 15, 2012

No Time

William Saroyan's play The Time Of Your Life (1939) is about a gentle eccentric named Joe who hangs out at a bar and encourages a bunch of other gentle eccentrics. (O'Neill did a much darker version of this in The Iceman Cometh.) Not much happens--though there is some violence--but it was intriguing enough in its day to win the Pulitzer.

Jimmy Cagney, looking for prestige projects rather than gangster roles, starred in the 1948 film version, produced by his brother.  It's fairly faithful, mostly set in the bar.  You can see why Hollywood shied away from the project, which has little narrative drive.  Few things date so badly as last year's whimsy.

Cagney soon went back to his specialty, playing tough guy Cody Jarrett in the classic White Heat (1949).  There's nothing wrong with stars trying to stretch, but there's a reason they became famous in the first place.

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