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"Where the woodbine twineth..."

  • Aug 2, 2011
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This unforgettable family fantasy from the 30s is about a crotchity, salt-of-the-earth grandfather who loves his young grandson, Pud. Troubled by apple thieves, Gramps makes a wish that anyone who climbs his apple tree would have to stay there until he lets them down. When Death comes to visit, he is trapped in the tree and now no one in the world can die. Sounds good, doesn't it? But Gramps soon discovers it's not.

Barrymore is utterly convincing as the cantankerous, warm-hearted Gramps. He plays the role in a wheel chair due to debilitating arthritis and a scene where he appears to walk is therefore especially poignant. As Death, Sir Cedric Hardwicke is chilling and yet kindly and wise; he takes people to Eternity, which, as Gramps would say is, "a right smart piece o' time."

Despite its age, the movie is timeless, sweet, and inspiring. If you love someone or have experienced loss, this movie will affect you deeply and it's worth watching more than once. Heartily recommended.

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About this movie


On Borrowed Time is a 1939 film about the role death plays in life, and how humanity cannot live without it. It is adapted from Paul Osborn's 1938 Broadway hit play. The play, based on a novel by Lawrence Edward Watkin, has been revived twice on Broadway since its original run.

Set in small-town America, the film stars Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Barrymore plays Julian Northrup, a wheelchair user (Barrymore had broken his hip twice previously and was now using a wheelchair, though he continued to act), who, with his wife Nellie, played by Bondi, are raising their orphaned grandson, Pud.

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Genre: Family, Fantasy
Release Date: July 6, 1939
MPAA Rating: G
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