Friday, September 23, 2011

Turn Back the Clock

1933, US, directed by Edgar Selwyn

It's a Wonderful Life is surely the most famous version of the old "What if I'd had a different life?" (or in this case "wife") plot, but this is an energetic variation, scripted by Selwyn and Ben Hecht, which focuses on the comedic possibilities for most of the running time. Lee Tracy, as the man who gets to see his alternative path, is aware more or less from the beginning of what's happened to him, though his manic delight in being granted a do-over causes consternation among those close to him until he figures out a way to channel both his knowledge of future events and his energy. As with so many 1930s films, there's virtually no fat. Barely any time seems to pass between Tracy's return to his humble soda jerk origins and his appointment as a presidential adviser, with the film skipping huge chunks of time from one scene change to the next, but the narrative remains entirely coherent despite the frantic pacing. While I found Lee Tracy to be a mis-cast distraction in Doctor X, he's perfect here, over-caffeinated in precisely the spirit of Hecht's snappy dialogue.


Renata said...

where can I see this movie? I've been wanting to see it for a long time now.

Gareth said...

A friend gave me a copy; I think it was on Turner Classic Movies a few years ago. Unfortunately I don't know anywhere it is available.


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Boston, Massachusetts, United States