He Left a Boy and Returned a Guy
I've watched a few war movies which focus on soldier's returning from war and being mentally scarred by what they saw whilst finding it difficult to adjust to civilian life again, but the majority of these have been about more recent conflicts with very few being about a WWII soldier's plight. "Till the End of Time" is one of those few movies which does focus on a soldier returning from fighting in WWII and struggling to pick up the pieces on his return. But what makes "Till the End of Time" interesting is that the soldier in question left school to fight and now returns home to his parents, who still see him as a boy, he has no career to return to and various other problems. It is an interesting look at the side of war which I have not seen before and is only spoiled by the era it was made because after a lot of interesting elements it tries to contrive a happy ever after ending.
With the war over Cliff Harper (Guy Madison - Bullwhip) and his buddy William Tabeshaw (Robert Mitchum - Scrooged) are discharged and head their separate ways with Cliff returning home to his parents where nothing has changed other than the neighbours. But Cliff soon finds adjusting to civilian life difficult because he joined up straight from school and not only did he not complete his education but he has no career to go back to. He also finds it tough living with his parents who not only still see him as their little boy but also have his life mapped out for him. Cliff is not the only one as William is also struggling with civilian life as his friend Perry (Bill Williams) who having lost both of his legs in combat has given up. And then there is war widow Pat (Dorothy McGuire - The Spiral Staircase), who Cliff grows fond off, who finds it tough dealing with the death of her husband whilst in combat.
So as already mentioned I have watched a variety of war movies which focus upon the difficulty for soldiers returning to civilian life with many of them focussing on the psychological scars left from combat. But "Till the End of Time" is different and interesting because the focus is on a soldier who when he left to fight was still just a teenager in school and so has missed out on a part of growing up. And it does a good job of highlighting many of the issues which face Cliff from his parents still seeing him as a boy to never having worked before joining up leaving Cliff with no real idea what to do now he is out. It even highlights that issue of Cliff having left to be a soldier when he was still a teen with the teenage girl next door Helen showing an interest in him and Cliff befriending her as she would have been the sort of person he hung out with the last time he was home.
But "Till the End of Time" is not just about Cliff and we have 3 subplots surrounding other people affected by war from Perry who having lost his legs has given up on living, using his brother to try and live his life for him whilst William suffers the pains from a metal plate in his head. The more interesting story is of Pat who having become widowed has sought company by dating various men in uniform, a different one every night much to Cliff's disgust. All these subplots combined with the central story are good and paint an interesting and enlightening picture of what it was like for some soldiers returning from war the only problem is the ending. Typical for the era there is an ending which contrives to bring positivity, which is understandable, but it spoils things because life isn't that way.
As for the acting well good through out with Guy Madison delivering a believable performance as a soldier facing the challenges of returning home a man having left a boy. It is Madison's performance which holds it all together and helps ground some of the more over the top performances such as Jean Porter as flirty teenage neighbour Helen, who to be honest is entertaining but also a cliche character. But Madison has solid back up from both Robert Mitchum and Dorothy McGuire with their individual conflicts.
What this all boils down to is that "Till the End of Time" is an entertaining movie which tells a little told side of War, that of boys who return from war men having missed out on important years of growing up and getting a career. Its only real problem is the contrived nature of the ending which tries to find a positive resolution for everyone.