William Bendix and James Cagney
THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE (1948)The Time of Your Life is a 1948 film starring James Cagney adapted from the 1939 William Saroyan play of the same title. The movie was adapted by Nathaniel Curtis, directed by H. C. Potter, and featured William Bendix as Nick, Wayne Morris as Tom, Broderick Crawford as Krupp, and Ward Bond as McCarthy. A Cagney Production, The Time of Your Life was produced by Cagney's brother William and co-starred their sister Jeanne as Kitty Duval.
Mostly filmed on one set, the film takes place in Nick's (William Bendix) Bar in San Francisco where a sign outside tells people to come in as they are. The film follows the adventures of a group of regulars at Nick's including Joe (James Cagney), a wealthy man who has given up working in order to hold court at the bar and have fun. Joe has a stooge named Tom (Wayne Morris) who runs his eccentric errands until a woman with a past named Kitty comes in and Tom falls in love with her.
The drama flopped miserably at the box office but is remembered as one of the best screen versions of the play. Jackie Gleason played Cagney's role in a critically acclaimed television version for Playhouse 90 ten years later (which also featured James Barton as Kit Carson); the Playhouse 90 production featured Jack Klugman as Nick the bartender, Dick York as Tom, and Betsy Palmer as Kitty Duval.
The Production Code of Administration made the producers change Blick's character from a police detective into an informer and a blackmailer. Originally the film used Saroyan's original ending where Kit shot and killed Blick but preview audiences acted negatively that led the producers to film an alternate ending.