Home > 1920 - 1939 > Turn Back the Clock

Turn Back the Clock

Turn Back the Clock title card

Year - 1933
Studio - MGM
Stars - Lee Tracy, Mae Clarke, Otto Kruger, George Barbier, Peggy Shannon, C. Henry, Gordon, Clara Blandick
Director - Edgar Selwyn
Writing Credits - Edgar Selwyn, Ben Hecht

Synopsis

Joe Gimlet (Lee Tracy) is married to his childhood sweetheart, Mary (Mae Clarke), and they live very modestly from his income as a small tobacco shop owner. When an old friend, the wealthy Ted Wright (Otto Kruger) visits, Joe is reminded of his failure, years earlier, to make an investment with the father of a woman, Elvina, who is now married to Ted, which would have made him wealthy as well. Ted offers Joe the opportunity to make an investment that is virtually guaranteed to return a huge profit. But, despite his pleading, Mary refuses to let Joe gamble with their life savings. Joe gets drunk and complains to Mary about the life of luxury he could have had with Elvina He angrily stomps out of their apartment, where he is struck by a car outside and is rushed to a hospital.

When Joe awakens, he finds that he is back to his life in the year 1910, twenty years earlier. Realizing the opportunity for a second chance, he spurns the young Mary, joins Elvina's father in his business by investing his savings and, with his new financial success, marries Elvina. Then, with his knowledge of the history of the time period in which he is now living, he steers the company's products toward the needs of the upcoming World War I. President Wilson is so impressed with his business acumen that he names him the Secretary of the War Industry.

Turn Back the Clock poster

Joe becomes obsessed with the business and making money and he neglects Elvina entirely, who begins an affair with another man. One day he stops at a tobacco shop and is surprised that the proprietor is Ted Wright, who is married to Mary. He visits them in their humble apartment, and realizes that he still loves Mary.

Knowing that the 1929 stock market crash is coming, he has instructed Elvina to keep their fortune in a trust fund, and not to invest any of it in the stock market. But she ignores him and they lose everything when the crash hits. Thinking that he'll be arrested for his company's role in the financial meltdown, Joe goes on the run. Chased by policemen, he is beaten by an angry crowd. When he revives in the hospital, it is again 1933 and Mary is at his bedside, to his joy and relief.

Show Spoilers

The Three Stooges make an uncredited appearance as singers at a party hosted by Joe.