Kehr’s Weekly Recap: On Borrowed Time (1939)

Harold Bucquet, who handled the Dr. Kildare series at MGM, directed this maudlin 1939 fantasy in which a curmudgeonly grandfather (Lionel Barrymore, of course) stalls Death (in the guise of dapper Englishman Cedric Hardwicke) to prevent the forced adoption of his orphaned grandson (Bobs Watson). The film’s studio back-lot version of small-town America and its glorious, sunlit heaven are painfully hokey, and while Bucquet nicely captures the camaraderie between Barrymore and Watson, the two of them provide enough ham for an Easter dinner. Adapted from a play by Lawrence Edward Watkin; with Beulah Bondi and Una Merkel.

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