This tense WW II thriller was Henry Hathaway's follow-up to his successful semi-documentary spy thriller HOUSE ON 92ND STREET. Cagney is the training officer for a group of American agents preparing to serve in occupied Europe for Operations-77 (a thinly veiled copy of the OSS, which
withdrew its endorsement for the film after the producers argued with legendary spymaster "Wild Bill" Donovan). He knows that one of his students is a German agent and must determine which one it is before the spy can do too much damage to the organization. Training is rigorous, and includes
radio-telegraphy, psychological training, and exhausting physical exercise. During the training, two agent trainees, Conte and Latimore, become close friends. For a final test of their skills, they are ordered to infiltrate an American submarine factory and steal the plans for a new torpedo
detonator. They are almost caught by factory security, but Conte pulls a forged card from his pocket that identifies him as a security agent himself and he walks off with Latimore supposedly under arrest. Back at the training school Cagney is now convinced that Conte is the German agent, but he
has plans to use him. He tells Conte that he will be parachuted into France to prepare the way for the Allied invasion of Holland. He hopes that as soon as Conte reaches the ground he will immediately return to his superiors at the Gestapo and give them this misleading information. In case he
doesn't, Cagney tells Latimore what he suspects and that he must kill Conte if he doesn't do as planned. On the plane bound for occupied territory, Conte senses the change in Latimore's attitude, and as his friend is about to jump out of the plane, he quickly and surreptitiously slices his ripcord
with a razor. When Cagney finds out what happened, he goes to France himself, planning to kill Conte. He is captured and taken to the Paris Gestapo headquarters at the title address, where he is tortured to make him reveal the truth about the invasion plans. Allied command knows Cagney will crack
eventually, as any man will, so they order a bombing mission to destroy the entire building and Cagney with it. As the bombs begin to fall and Conte looks around him at the crumbling room, Cagney starts to laugh maniacally and triumphantly before they go to their deaths together.
The first half of the film, detailing the training procedures, was the most documentary-oriented and the best. The second half, in which a Cagney starting to show his age competes with young men like Conte, doesn't work nearly so well. Cagney didn't have much interest in making this film. He
preferred to develop projects for his own production company, but he was having trouble getting THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE off the ground, and the $300,000 he received for this film was too good to pass up. Conte is excellent as the cold and efficient double agent, killing Latimore without hesitation
and even blocking a bullet meant for him by pulling another German officer in front of him. The film proved quite successful and gave Cagney the freedom he wanted. Unfortunately, THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE was not successful, and Cagney was quickly forced back to the studios for work.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This tense WW II thriller was Henry Hathaway's follow-up to his successful semi-documentary spy thriller HOUSE ON 92ND STREET. Cagney is the training officer for a group of American agents preparing to serve in occupied Europe for Operations-77 (a thinly v… (more)