Time Without Pity

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Time Without Pity
Time Without Pity FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Losey
Produced by John Arnold
Anthony Simmons
Written by Emlyn Williams (play)
Ben Barzman
Starring Michael Redgrave
Ann Todd
Leo McKern
Music by Tristram Cary
Cinematography Freddie Francis
Edited by Alan Osbiston
Release dates
March 1957
Running time
85 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Time Without Pity (1957) is a British film noir thriller about a father trying to save his son from execution for murder.

Directed by the brilliant expatriate American, Joseph Losey, after he was hounded from America by McCarthyism, Time Without Pity was his second film in Britain and his first under his own name. An edgy film before edgy was an adjective, it stars Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, and Leo McKern. It is also the second film of the great British cinematographer, Freddie Francis, as director of photography (though the British credit is simply "photography") and his use of reflective surfaces and startling contrasts makes it an unsung gem of black-and-white camerawork. The future second wife of Lord Laurence Olivier, Joan Plowright, shines briefly but memorably as a feisty chorus girl and the original Miss Moneypenny of 14 James Bonds - Lois Maxwell - also has a stand-out scene as a girl who can be bought.

The screenplay was written by a fellow blacklisted writer, Ben Barzman, based on a play by Emlyn Williams under the title "Someone Waiting."


David Graham, a recovering alcoholic, returns to England with only 24 hours to save his son, Alec, from hanging for the murder of Alec's girlfriend, Jenny Cole. A neglectful, absentee father who has missed the entire trial while he was in rehab in Canada, Graham discovers his son, awaiting execution, at first refuses to even see him and when he does, to evince any hope for his case, let alone affection for his father.

His sobriety in constant jeopardy, Graham, for all his failings, never for a moment doubts his son's innocence, and begins a frantic last-minute effort to find the evidence that will save his son's life, if not redeem himself as a father. With the help of his son's steadfast lawyer, Graham desperately, and often bungling, investigates the circumstances surrounding the girl's murder, visiting first her furious sister who's onstage in a chorus line, then the home of wealthy car magnate Robert Stanford, where the girlfriend was killed and whose family have been the only real support his son has ever known. Graham ricochets between potential allies, foes and new leads in order to learn who the real murderer could be, including Stanford's beautiful young wife, Honor, his even-younger secretary, Vickie Harker, and his adopted son, and Alec's best friend Brian, who allows Graham to see what his own misspent life looked like through his son's eyes.

With the Home Office on standby to receive any overwhelming evidence proving Alec's innocence, Graham is forced to extreme measures to try to establish the real killer's guilt.


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