The Time of Your Life is a 1948 film starring James Cagney adapted from the 1939 William Saroyan play of the same title. A Cagney Production, The Time of Your Life was produced by Cagneys brother William, adapted by Nathaniel Curtis, and directed by H....
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Shot mostly on one set, the film follows the adventures of a group of regulars at Nick's 'Pacific Street Saloon, Restaurant and Entertainment Palace' in San Francisco. A sign outside tells people to come in as they are.
At the center is the wealthy Joe (James Cagney), who has given up working to hold court at William Bendix's bar. He desires to live "a civilized life" without hurting anyone and believes the real truth in people is found in their dreams of themselves, not the hard facts of their actual existence. Joe has a stooge named Tom (Wayne Morris), who runs his eccentric errands until a woman with a past named Kitty (Jeanne Cagney) comes in steals Tom's heart. Also appearing are Broderick Crawford as Krupp, Ward Bond as McCarthy, Tom Powers as Blick, and James Barton as Kit Carson.
The Cagneys admired the play and acquired its film rights on the condition that theirs not be in release longer than seven years. They gave their director and cinematographer two weeks for blocking, but changed their minds once filming began, spending freely and breaking their budget.
The film was shot using Saroyan's original ending where Kit shot and killed Blick offstage, whom the Production Code Administration had forced the producers to change from a police detective into an informer and blackmailer. The audience heard the shots and saw Kit walk in relating the event as one of his stories "I shot a man once. In San Francisco. Shot him two times...Fellow named Blick or Glick or something. Couldn't stand the way he talked to ladies".
Preview audiences reacted unfavourably. Cagney asked Saroyan to write a more acceptable ending but Saroyan priced his work out of Cagney's reach.A new action-packed climax was substituted with Cagney beating the daylights out of Blick and Nick throwing him out onto the street.
The film was a miserable failure at the box office. A Playhouse 90 television version ten years later starring Jackie Gleason as Joe earned critical acclaim, with Jack Klugman as Nick, Dick York as Tom, Betsy Palmer as Kitty, and James Barton reprising his role as Kit Carson.