On Borrowed Time

On Borrowed Time

Lionel Barrymore
Director: Harold S. Bucquet Cast: Lionel Barrymore
Lionel Barrymore
, Cedric Hardwicke
Cedric Hardwicke
, Una Merkel
Una Merkel
Harold S. Bucquet

DVD (B&W / Full Frame)

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Old Gramps (Lionel Barrymore) is not about to go gentle into that good night when Mr. Brink (Cedric Hardwicke), who sometimes travels under the name of the Grim Reaper, comes calling. Through a ruse, Gramps chases Brink up a tree in his garden, rendering the mysterious stranger helpless. As a result, no one dies throughout the world, and disease and misery runs rampant. Dispassionately, Mr. Brink decides to "reach" Gramps through his beloved grandson (Bobs Watson). He talks the boy into climbing the tree and then suffering a crippling fall. Realizing that the only way he can stem his grandson's pain is by surrendering to Mr. Brink, Gramps does so--and discovers that Crossing Over wasn't as painful as he thought. Together with his grandson, who has likewise expired, Gramps joyfully strolls into a most pastoral-looking Heaven. The final shots of Lionel Barrymore walking into Paradise under his own power represent a triumph of misdirection and special effects. In truth, the wheelchair-confined Barrymore was placed on a treadmill, and merely simulated his walking movements as a process screen enhanced the illusion; for long shots, a double was used. While Barrymore's performance naturally dominates On Borrowed Time, Cedric Hardwicke is equally effective in the role of Mr. Brink (his favorite role). A great early vignette finds a consumptive motorist (Hans Conried) offering Brink a lift; the latter waves the motorist on, politely saying "No, not yet." On Borrowed Time was based on the novel by Lawrence Edward Watkin and the popular Broadway play version by Paul Osborne.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/23/2009
UPC: 0883316140208
Original Release: 1939
Rating: NR
Source: Warner Archives
Presentation: [B&W, Full Frame]
Time: 1:39:00
Sales rank: 5,332

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lionel Barrymore Julian Northrup, "Gramps"
Cedric Hardwicke Mr. Brink
Una Merkel Marcia Giles
Beulah Bondi Nellie
Bobs Watson Pud
Nat Pendleton Mr. Grimes
Henry Travers Dr. Evans
Grant Mitchell Mr. Pilbeam
Eily Malyon Demetria Riffle
James Burke Sheriff Burlingame
Ian Wolfe Charles Wentworth
Phillip Terry Bill Lowry
Truman Bradley James Northrup

Technical Credits
Harold S. Bucquet Director
George Boemler Editor
Jack Dawn Makeup
John S. Detlie Art Director
Sidney Franklin Producer
Sidney Franklin Producer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Alice Duer Miller Screenwriter
Frank O'Neil Screenwriter
Joseph Ruttenberg Cinematographer
Dolly Tree Costumes/Costume Designer
Franz Waxman Score Composer
Claudine West Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design

Customer Reviews

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On Borrowed Time 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, first of all, thanks to Hal Erickson from the All Movie Guide for blowing the whole movie for anyone who's not seen it yet--sheesh! Anyway, for an early effort--and from the glory days of Hollywood when overacting wasn't really noticed or criticized--this is a fine gem of a movie that I stumbled upon several years ago that left me in awe with its gentle spirit, its childlike innocence as played through Pud (what a name!) and his relationship with Old Gramps, and most importantly, its almost avant-garde, almost New Age approach to the event that eventually befalls us all. Kind of a variation on ''Death Takes a Holiday,'' ''On Borrowed Time'' gently pulls you into its story, endearing you to its characters (even Pud, with his occasionally-annoying WHINING), and telling you, in a gentle but unmistakable tone of voice, that Death, my friends, is nothing to be feared. This movie was instrumental in changing my outlook on that oft-dreaded subject, and I wonder to this day how it could have seemingly been so overlooked by the movie community. It is a true classic, unabashedly sentimental, and ultimately heartwarming. Lionel Barrymore, who would in later years play a despicable louse of a character named Mr. Potter, plays an intelligent, sensitive and yet outspoken loveable old man...Sir Cedric Hardwicke, better known to millions as Seti in the 1956 version of ''The 10 Commandments,'' absolutely glitters in his understated, sardonic and subtly charming portrayal of Death...and in the background, among other unforgettable and well-played characters, is the dear Beulah Bondi, one of Hollywood's true greats...her scene with Hardwicke, as she listens to ''Beautiful Dreamer'' on the radio, is enough to bring tears to the eyes of anyone with a heart. Truly one of the most unforgettable scenes in the entire film. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough...not only is it warmly produced, well-acted for the most part, and the story told in an understatedly touching manner, it can also serve as a vehicle of comfort for those of us who have recently lost loved ones, and/or those of us who harbor an unnatural fear of death. I would gladly give this movie, along with the book EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT by Betty Eaddie, to anyone who fits the above descriptions. See this movie at all costs, keep your heart and mind open, and just see if you don't agree with me.
DinID More than 1 year ago
A sleeper that no one knows about ....even the biggest movie buffs...our family's very favorite for all time...worth every dollar.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most of the movie takes place in the backyard of a home. There are no fast-action sequences, no love scenes, and special effects are essentially absent. Instead, what grips the viewer to the screen is the quality of the story and the talents of the actors that bring it to life. It's that simple. I'd give it 10 stars if they let me.....