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Film / A Time Out of War

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A Time Out of War is a 1954 short film (23 minutes) directed by Denis Sanders, then a student at UCLA film school.

It is set during The American Civil War—apparently during the tail end of that war, as a reference is made to the Union capturing Richmond. Alden and Connor are two Union soldiers on picket duty on one side of a shallow stream. On the other side of the stream is their opposite number, Craig, a Confederate picket. The soldiers shout casual insults at each other and sometimes take potshots from their foxholes. Eventually they declare a truce, approach opposite banks of the stream, and begin trading items. An unexpected discovery, however, spoils their temporary peace.

Based on a short story by Robert W. Chambers called "Pickets".


  • Blade-of-Grass Cut: Some closeup of the reeds and grass growing along the river before the peaceful idyll is broken by a shot fired by the Union soldier.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Craig. Connor fires off a shot and then wants to know how close he came; Craig's answer is "Were you shooting at me?" Soon after when they are discussing a truce until 5 pm, Craig asks what time it is at the moment, because "all of my gold pocket watches are under repair at Chickamauga."
  • Due to the Dead: After they find the corpse of the Union cavalryman in the river, Alden and Connor bury him. They fire a salute with their rifles at his grave...which is repeated by Craig, on the other side of the river.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: A single afternoon.
  • Fishing for Sole: Connor finally hooks something. He thinks it's a pike, but since it isn't moving, Craig says it's a catfish. It's the corpse of a Union cavalryman.
  • Friendly Enemy: The soldiers. They are indeed trying to kill each other—or at least Connor is, taking potshots at Craig from across the river—but they also think nothing of calling a truce so they can both come to the stream and trade hardtack, coffee, and tobacco while Connor goes fishing.
  • Minimalist Cast: Only three parts, four if you count the corpse.
  • Tastes Like Feet: Alden isn't that enthusiastic about the tobacco Craig threw over the stream, saying that "it tastes like stable sweepins."