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

Time Without Pity
Time Without Pity FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoseph Losey
Produced by
Written byBen Barzman
Based onSomeone Waiting (play)
by Emlyn Williams
Music byTristram Cary
CinematographyFreddie Francis
Edited byAlan Osbiston
Harlequin Productions
Distributed byAstor Pictures
Release date
March 1957
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Directed by expatriate American Joseph Losey, after he was blacklisted in America due to McCarthyism, Time Without Pity was his second film in Britain and his first under his own name.[1] The film stars Michael Redgrave, Ann Todd, Peter Cushing, and Leo McKern. It is also the second film of British cinematographer Freddie Francis, as director of photography (the British credit is simply "photography"). Joan Plowright appears briefly as a feisty chorus girl and Lois Maxwell, who played Miss Moneypenny in the first 14 James Bond films, also has a stand-out scene as a girl who can be bought.

The screenplay was written by fellow blacklisted writer Ben Barzman, adapted from the play Someone Waiting by Emlyn Williams.



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 finally does, he will not 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 ineffectively, investigates the circumstances surrounding the girl's murder, visiting first her furious sister who's on stage in a chorus line, then the home of a wealthy car magnate, Robert Stanford, where the girlfriend was killed and whose family has been the only real support Graham's son has ever known. Graham ricochets between potential allies, foes and new leads in order to learn who the real murderer could be, with suspects including Stanford's beautiful young wife, Honor, his even younger secretary, Vickie Harker, 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 evidence proving Alec's innocence, Graham is forced to extreme measures to try to establish the real killer's guilt.


Critical receptionEdit

Derek Winnert noted a "dark-hued, intense, intelligent and stylised 1957 British noir...imaginatively and cleverly made by Losey, who pushes both its artistic symbolism and its heart-felt anti-capital punishment message to the limit."[2]


  1. ^ Gardner, Colin (2004). Joseph Losey. Manchester University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7190-6783-9.
  2. ^ "Time without Pity **** (1957, Michael Redgrave, Alec McCowen, Leo McKern, Ann Todd, Peter Cushing) – Classic Movie Review 5844 - Derek Winnert".

External linksEdit