Sunday, September 25, 2022

Tonight's Movie: Time Out of Mind (1947) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

TIME OUT OF MIND (1947), a Gothic melodrama from Universal Pictures, was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

Despite the interesting cast, directed by film noir great Robert Siodmak, I was completely unfamiliar with this film prior to its Blu-ray release.

This is just the kind of movie I love having the opportunity to discover for the first time; to be sure, it was an imperfect film, but it was also a very entertaining 88 minutes. To the best of my knowledge, TIME OUT OF MIND never had a prior DVD or VHS release, so I'm very appreciative that Kino Lorber has made it available for home viewing.

TIME OUT OF MIND is based on a novel by Rachel Field. Field also wrote the books which inspired the films ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO (1940) and AND NOW TOMORROW (1944). She also wrote now-classic books for children, including PRAYER FOR A CHILD, for which illustrator Elizabeth Orton Jones won the Caldecott Medal, and HITTY: HER FIRST HUNDRED YEARS, for which Field herself won the prestigious Newbery Medal.

TIME OUT OF MIND is set in the 1800s and has a bit of the feel of Britain's "Gainsborough Melodramas," including the fact that it stars Gainsborough actress Phyllis Calvert, star of films such as THE MAN IN GREY (1943) and MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS (1945).

Calvert plays Kate Fernald, the maid in a beautiful, if gloomy, seaside Maine mansion owned by Captain Fortune (Leo G. Carroll).

Captain Fortune's son Christopher (Robert Hutton) is due home on his father's ship the Rainbow, but when it docks the family learns Christopher is in a coma due to a recent shipboard accident.

Kate and Christopher's devoted sister Clarissa, aka Rissa (Ella Raines), watch anxiously over his bedside while his brusque father, who no longer sails due to his own injury, carries on life as usual.

Christopher finally regains consciousness but quickly learns that having done his duty on one voyage wasn't enough; his father expects him to sail again in short order. This knowledge torments Chris, a pianist and aspiring composer who has no interest in life at sea.

Kate helps engineer Christopher and Rissa's escape to Paris before the Rainbow sails again, which devastates their father. And Kate herself discovers she has reason to be quite unhappy when brother and sister return after several years and Chris has married wealthy Dora Drake (Helena Carter).

That's only about half the story in a movie jam-packed with plot, and indeed, one of the film's issues is tantalizing wandering threads which end up going nowhere. For instance, why does fishmonger Jake (Eddie Albert) agree to lend Kate and Christopher money -- was there a quid pro quo from Kate? Why does Rissa's relationship with Chris go beyond sisterly love to obsession and wanting him to herself? What exactly did Rissa mean when she told her father he had crushed their mother, is there more to the story it would be helpful to know? Why does one of the "help," Kate, have such a privileged position in the household, dancing among guests and referred to as "like a daughter" by Captain Fortune? And so on.

The other main issue is that while Robert Hutton is fine in light comedies about young people such as JANIE (1944) and WALLFLOWER (1948), he seems rather out of place here as a tormented musician who goes through a period of alcoholism. The role cries out for a more compelling actor, though I'm not precisely sure who offhand. Hutton does put across Chris as a whiny young man, with some of the issues being part and parcel of the character, but a more dashing actor would have had the audience rooting much harder for his redemption. Instead we aren't really emotionally invested in him but focus more on how his behavior impacts the three main women in his life.

I like Calvert but frankly she's fairly bland as well, though likeable. Happily the other two main ladies in the cast are absolutely scrumptious. Raines is incredibly gorgeous as Rissa, and it's fascinating trying to scrutinize her character's behavior and motives. We're honestly never quite clear about her, even at the end, but it's a fun ride nonetheless.

Carter is ostensibly the villainess of the piece, particularly at the end, but the fact is that her character drops plenty of "truth bombs" midway through the movie which need to be said. She may not be entirely likeable, but she's also not wrong, and like Raines she's beautiful to look at.  I would have enjoyed seeing a little more of her, but what we get is quite entertaining.

Speaking of beautiful to look at, the mansion design is absolutely incredible and makes the movie worth watching in and of itself. The many windows and staircases, the piano room, Captain Fortune's bedroom designed with a ship's bunk...the set design and art direction are absolutely superb.

Throw in excellent black and white cinematography by Maury Gertsman, gowns by Travis Banton, a score by Miklos Rosza and Mario Castelnuevo-Tedesco, and a deep supporting cast, and you've got yourself a movie worth seeing, flaws and all. I found it quite entertaining.

The supporting cast includes Lilian Fontaine (mother of Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland) as Chris and Rissa's aunt, plus Samuel S. Hinds, Henry Stephenson, Janet Shaw, John Abbott, Olive Blakeney, Maudie Prickett, William Frambes, and Houseley Stevenson.

Kino Lorber's print is from a new 2K master. There was one scene with Eddie Albert where the picture briefly went slightly fuzzy, but for the most part the film looks and sounds great.  What a treat to not only have this film available but to be able to see it looking so good!

I'm going to make time for the commentary track by Lee Gambin and Elissa Rose in the near future, as I'd love to learn more about this movie. The disc also includes a gallery of trailers for five additional films available from Kino Lorber.

As hinted at by the stills accompanying this review, TIME OUT OF MIND is a visually enticing film with a (mostly) interesting cast. While acknowledging the movie's issues, I recommend it for those who find what I've described of interest. I enjoyed it and will definitely watch it again. Kudos to Kino Lorber for this release.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Anonymous Barry Lane said...

I have never known anyone who has seen this film, and thanks to your detailed assessment, the reasons are now clear. Thank you.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I too have never even heard about this film, which is really a strange thing for the true movie enthusiast. I thought I knew Ella Raines's complete filmography but there we go...

On a side-note, I just stumbled on a completely unknown (to me) Burt Lancaster movie, Mister 880. Didn't even know it existed. I'll watch it soon.

Phyllis Calvert is wonderful in Madonna of the Seven Moons. Highly recommended Gainsborough drama.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You made me chuckle, Barry! Honestly I really enjoyed it, but I get that it's not going to be for everyone.

Margot, how interesting you've not heard of it either! It was interesting to me that the title didn't sound even vaguely familiar. I've heard of MISTER 880, though I've not seen it!

I have a copy of MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS I've not yet seen. Thank you for the recommendation! Those Gainsborough movies are like eating a box of candy in movie form, aren't they?!

Best wishes,

10:58 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Mister 880 also stars Edmund Gwenn as a friendly forger (he uses phony dollar plates when he needs to supplement his modest income), which I have seen and enjoyed over the years. I believe it was, or may still be, available on a reissue by Olive Films. It is a sweet comedy that begs for an in-print disc.

1:35 PM  

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