Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Till the End of Time (1946) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

TILL THE END OF TIME (1946) is a moving drama about postwar readjustment just released by the Warner Archive.

This RKO film, which covers much the same territory as THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), was released several months prior to BEST YEARS yet has long stood in the shadow of William Wyler's multi-Oscar winner.

TILL THE END OF TIME, a mature film sensitively directed by Edward Dmytryk, deserves to be much better known. I first saw this film five years ago, and I very much enjoyed returning to it for a second look.

The movie covers the return of three veterans to Southern California. Cliff (Guy Madison) had dropped out of USC after Pearl Harbor and returns to loving parents (Tom Tully and Ruth Nelson) who struggle to understand how their son has changed and why he's lacking the motivation to immediately jump back in to school or work.

Cliff's mother pointedly mentions the domestic skills of the high schooler next door (Jean Porter, who later married the director), but he's interested in an older, conflicted war widow, Pat (Dorothy McGuire).

Bill (Robert Mitchum) has a steel plate in his head but blithely pretends all is well -- until he starts having headaches. And Perry (Bill Williams), who came home from the war minus his legs, feels his life is over, while his mother (Selena Royle) bravely tries to encourage him. The scene where she asks his friends to visit often is a heartbreaker.

The performances are all uniformly good, and I was particularly struck that Dorothy McGuire wasn't afraid to play a character with an edge. She could also play very sweet types, of course, but here she plays a bit of a "tough girl" who isn't always quite likeable. At the same time, one empathizes with what she's been through -- it's said in the film that there should be Purple Hearts for war widows too -- and when she and Cliff are confronted with a soldier with "the shakes" she handles it in a touching fashion.

There are so many things about the film which are interesting as a "time capsule" depiction of the time and the place, whether it's the suggestion that a high school girl is a good marriage prospect, parents socializing by playing cards with the neighbors (does that ever happen anymore?), a peek at the army discharge process, or the great shots of L.A. in the '40s. As a Trojan parent I also enjoyed spotting a USC pennant hanging in Cliff's old bedroom!

The supporting cast includes Harry Von Zell, William Gargan, Johnny Sands, Loren Tindall, and Richard Benedict. Look for Ellen Corby and Blake Edwards in small roles.

TILL THE END OF TIME runs 105 minutes. It was based on a novel by Niven Busch called THEY DREAM OF HOME. It was shot in black and white by Harry Wild.

I've been humming the title tune, based on Chopin, ever since the movie ended. I love Perry Como's version of the song.

The Warner Archive DVD is a good-looking print. There are no extras.

I hope more classic film fans will get to know this fine film. Recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

I like this movie very much, and I agree, it should be better known. Great review.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

I agree too. I also think it's a little unfair for it to be so overshadowed by Best Years. I say that as someone who loves that film--more expansive, it has that Dana Andrews at the airfield sequence and I guess there's nothing quite so powerful in this, but it has its own virtues, and Dorothy McGuire is. as you indicate, a complex heroine and the part of the movie around her and Guy Madison is especially fine, with all the depth of a real adult relationship.

Really there is simply no reason why there cannot be two memorable movies on the same subject.

The Best Years of Our Lives is my favorite Wyler movie, hands down, but I would say that this is the best Dmytryk. And I do love other movies by both of these directors.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jacqueline and Blake, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, I'm so glad to know you appreciated this film also.

By coincidence tonight I saw Dorothy McGuire in a completely different (and immensely likeable) role in SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON (1960). I'll be writing about that soon.

Blake, I am past due to send you an email! :)

Best wishes,

12:36 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

This film was shown quite recently on UK TV and I decided it was long overdue for a re-watch while I downloaded it. I was instantly reminded why I liked this film from the very first time I saw it.

I particularly like the adult relationship between Guy Madison and the "older" Dorothy Maguire. This is superior acting and the film is crafted beautifully.

I tend to agree with the consensus that "Best Years..." has the edge, but not by much. They are both superb examples of post-war film-making.

BTW, Laura, can I just sneak in a mention of not one but TWO new releases starring Preston Foster. Sony is releasing "THUNDERHOOF" to DVD for the first time and VCI are issuing 10 episodes from Foster's "WATERFRONT" TV series.
I take it this just could be of interest?

9:20 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, thanks so much for jumping in with your thoughts on this really good film. I hope that everyone's feedback here, combined with my review, might lead more people to give this film a try, especially as it's now readily available from the Archive.

You know Preston Foster news is always welcome here!! I am *thrilled* with the VCI news and those are definitely going straight onto my wish list!

Best wishes,

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Must admit I've avoided this film - not keen on Dorothy McGuire/Guy Madison leads. But having read your review,will definitely look out for it.

12:52 AM  

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