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On Borrowed Time
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Death has come for Gramps Northrup. But Gramps has important work to do: raising his orphaned grandson. So he uses a bit of magic to trap Death in the branches of an apple tree. Clever work, Gramps! Or is it? With Death on hiatus, other folks whose time has come - folks who are worn out, ill and in pain - can't be released from their earthly suffering. And Gramps begins to wonder if he's done the right thing.
From the beloved Paul Osborn play, this endearing fantasy of family, love and mortality moves effortlessly from rollicking to whimsical to tragic. Lionel Barrymore plays Gramps, leading a sterling cast of character stars, including Beulah Bondi, Una Merkel, Henry Travers and, as a most wry and gentlemanly Grim Reaper, Sir Cedric Hardwicke
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Let's get down to specifics. Gramps & his beloved wife are raising their grandson after the boy's parents are killed in an automobile accident. Mr. Brink, an urbane incarnation of Death, implacable but not necessarily cruel, comes for Gramps -- only to find himself trapped in an apple tree by a wish Gramps makes. Thus Mr. Brink is unable to carry out his assigned duties, and nothing living can die -- including a delighted Gramps, who wants to continue raising his grandson.
The story is told in a light-hearted manner, with lots of humor & fine performances. But even as that tone is maintained, some of the deeper questions begin to surface, and the direction of the film heads into more troubling territory. Viewers used to Hollywood will expect a certain type of ending, quite predictable & comfortable -- but the film remains true to its source material, offering a very different ending instead. I'm sure that if the film were remade today, they'd opt for the easy ending; so I'm hoping it never is remade, for that very reason.
Let me also single out the character of Aunt Demetria, who is one of the most hateful & loathsome screen villains I've seen in a long time. She reminds me of Elvira Gulch, but without the refreshing honesty of her open nastiness -- Aunt Demetria cloaks her evil in smug self-righteousness & public holiness, and provides a powerful reason for Gramps wanting to defy death & save his grandson from her less than tender clutches.
But it's the questions that linger that make this film truly enjoyable -- highly recommended!
An enchanting never to be forgotten story from the "Golden Age of Motion Pictures" before television, before ratings were necessary, when people of all ages went to the same movies. I can't improve on the other five star reviews except to say that the movie was Lionel Barrymore's favorite and also a favorite of my Mother who spent years as a theater cashier and who had excellent literary taste.
I write this review now because I find myself living on borrowed time, past the average age of life expectancy. The part of the motion picture that I find most compelling is showing the unfortunate things that would happen in a world if Death (Mr. Brink) can't get down out of a tree; so people could die when they are supposed to die. Eternity and life after death is in the words of Barrymore "a right smart piece o' time." A time that we should all look forward to. Mr. Brink will soon get down out of the tree for me and I personally can go "Where the Woodbine Twineth" (as Barrymore said it in the film). What a glorious experience my life has been, so full of wonderful motion pictures that I think everyone should see. "On Borrowed Time" is near the top of my list. I even appeared in some of the motion pictures. See my review of "17 Miracles".
If you liked "It's a Wonderful Life" you will love "On Borrowed Time" that has many of the same actors. If you think "Citizen Kane" is the greatest motion picture of all time, you probably will not care for this one.
See all of my Reviews. I write only about books, events, or motion pictures that have changed the course of history or unforgettable books or motion pictures that will totally change peoples lives.
Darrell Stoddard, Founder - Pain Research Institute healpain.net and saveusa.biz
One day I decided, I want to find this movie, so I googled "what classic movie has the word Piszmire in it" and "On Borrowed Time" come up! Sure enough it WAS the correct title to the long ago movie I had seen so many years ago.
This is a very heart warming movie as well as a mystery, You will laugh and will cry! The Great Lionel Barrymore is outstanding in the role he portrays. I hope many get this CD and enjoy a pure classic! It's a wonderful movie!
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