TIME WITHOUT PITY (1957)

A review of an obscure indie film (courtesy of HuluPlus’ choice selection of films from the Criterion Collection), some film history & Eric Michael Kochmer. Read on to find out why indie filmmakers should care. Every #TBT.

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TIME WITHOUT PITY (1957) directed by Joseph Josey (85 minutes)Joseph Losey’s Hollywood career was bolting forward in the late forties, as each picture he directed was better and better received. Unfortunately, because of his affiliation with the Communist party, by 1952 he was blacklisted and unemployable. Or at least under his name.

time-without-pityHe fell off of the radar and worked under alias names only to show up in England in the mid-fifties making at first low budget/low risk thrillers, very much reminiscent of his Hollywood Crime dramas that helped popularize the style, then first being coined as film noir. The work though that was the most revered in his European revival, his second act, were not Noirs, but instead fluid moving (the camera work and lyrical nature of the dialogue) black comedies to biting social commentaries using the crime genre as a platform.

One of his first masterpieces was a class warfare statement film called “The Servant,” starring Dirk Bogard, Sara Miles and James Fox, written by Nobel Prize winner Harold Pinter. This is what Losey’s work eventually became: intellectually pristine and artistically daring.

This rebirth of Losey’s career all started with 1957’s “Time Without Pity”. The story revolves around an alcoholic man who has always thought of himself and somehow was the apple of his son’s eye. His son, poor and going to school in England, is accused of killing his girlfriend. He journey’s from Canada, decides to try to find out who the killer is in a race against time to exposetime-without-pity-movie-poster-1957-1020539877 the real killer before the execution takes place.

Legendary actor, Michael Redgrave plays the father and leads the actors without one false move. The man has a powerful texture with his work that he is so honest and compelling and truthful without ego, but somehow dynamically theatrical: he looks like the most pathetic, sad sack you’ve ever met but you can’t help but empathize through the whole journey with him. And then we are pulverized with the immense sacrifice that he issues in the last few moments.

This was the first time after blacklisting, that a studio allowed the director a credit under his real name. There is a reason that this film helped pave the way, starting with the first scene showing the killing as well as the killer, and the rest of the movie we wait for the authorities to figure it all out before they kill the wrong man. Losey is still making a Noir here but you can see he has an eye toward something deeper and more provocative.