The Time of Your Life, 1948, based on the William Saroyan play that won a Pulitzer and the NY Drama Critics Circle award. James Cagney, William Bendix, Ward Bond, Broderick Crawford, Spring Byington -- the only actors I recognized.
It's another film that I almost stopped watching (I didn't like Jeanne Cagney's character, who showed up early). But this movie might be permanently on the DVR. It was really surprising.
It's set in a bar in San Francisco in the late 1930's. Cagney plays Joe, who spends his days sitting at a table interacting with various people who come into the bar. Joe is all about people -- being involved, listening, understanding, not judging, not being obvious, not always butting in, sometimes just watching.
But the main reason the movie is a keeper is the dancer, Paul Draper. I'm no dance expert, but if Fred Astaire is considered a 10, Draper is an 11. His character wants to be a comedian but his routines are inscrutable and humorless. And then he starts to dance. One of his dances was an interpretation of a politician, giving a speech. He said that's what he was going to do but even if he hadn't said it, you'd know that's what he was presenting. It was stunning.
The other revelation was Reginald Beane, a man who came to the bar looking for work. He faints from hunger, Nick the bar owner feeds him (Nick feeds everyone), and after he recovers, he walks by the piano, sits down, and starts to play.
There's also a character described as an Arab who plays harmonica, a newspaper boy who wants to be a lyric tenor, an old coot who looks like Kit Carson and tells stories that had me laughing out loud, and a few others, including a bad guy who tries to shake Nick down.
It's kinda messy -- unstructured -- but just wonderful, and I'm so glad TCM showed it and that I watched it. I just wish there was more Paul Draper on film. Because wow.