Playhouse 90: No Time at All [DVD]

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Every so often, the prestigious 1950s CBS anthology Playhouse 90 would digress from its "live" format and offer a sumptuously produced film presentation. One of these was the suspenseful 1958 offering No Time at All, a fascinating precursor to the Airport films of the 1970s. On a routine night flight from Miami to New York, an airliner loaded with passengers is suddenly plunged into darkness due to an electrical failure. Losing contact with the plane, the ground crew in New York worries that all on board may be lost--especially since the weather has turned ugly. In a brilliant dramatic device, the viewer never sees the plane in flight nor its passengers and crew: Instead, the play stays on solid land, concentrating on the reactions of the friends and families of those on board. This Playhouse 90 entry boasts perhaps the most impressive cast ever assembled for the series, among them dramatic actors Bill Lundigan, Jane Greer, Betsy Palmer, Sylvia Sidney and Keenan Wynn; comedians Buster Keaton, Chico Marx (with a Jewish accent), and Harry Einstein (aka "Parkyakarkus", and the father of contemporary comic actors Bob Einstein and Albert Brooks); and musical-comedy favorites Jack Haley (in a rare unsympathetic role) and Cliff Edwards (the voice of Jiminy Cricket in the 1940 cartoon feature Pinocchio). Also seen in the supporting cast is an up-and-coming young player named Charles Bronson, here cast as a sentimental boxer; and "Floyd the Barber" himself, Howard McNear--who, indirectly, is the hero of the piece. Long considered a "lost" film, No Time at All was made available on the home-video market in the early years of the 21st century, complete with the original commercials and a preview of the next week's Playhouse 90. ~ Hal Erickson
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