I'm looking for the name of a short black and white movie in which people were given an allotted amount of time at birth, and used that time to buy things. For example, a can of beans in the store would be priced something like 23 minutes, and that amount would be deducted from one's remaining time. People could perform services for each other and settle the transaction using time remaining. A key part of the story involves the person going to the central temporal authority to petition that his mother be given more time.

  • 3
    Where there men smoking cigars (actually time) in the movie, who toke the time for themselves?
    – Clearer
    Jan 2, 2018 at 22:55
  • 2
    It sounds like parts of the plot are vaguely similar to Momo, though I don't think that's the answer you are looking for.
    – kasperd
    Jan 3, 2018 at 0:58
  • 1
    By the way, I think I've read more than one story with a similar premise, including one titled “Time Is Money” (in Playboy about 1974–76). Jan 3, 2018 at 3:10

3 Answers 3


This looks like it might be The Price of Life, a 1987 short film produced by Chanticleer Films and originally aired on the U.S. cable channel, Showtime.

While it doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry of its own, but a brief description is found in the “Similar Works” section of the article for the 2011 film In Time. The emphasis below is mine.

The Price of Life was a 38-minute short film (story by Stephen Tolkin and Michel Monteaux) in which a time account is physically linked to every infant at birth, with death automatic when the balance drops to zero. An elite upper-class is portrayed as living hundreds of years or more. The protagonist is given a certain amount of time as an infant, and as a young boy adds days and years to his time account by buying valuables from people and selling them to visiting tourists from the rich enclave. After his sister dies after gambling away her time, the protagonist (now a young man) sets out on a journey to the enclave of "the Old Ones" in order to save the life of his mother, who is (literally) running out of time. He gets there and meets a beautiful older woman who co-opts him into the immortal lifestyle.

The full movie can be found here, on Vimeo.

  • 3
    That's it. Thanks! Jan 3, 2018 at 1:09
  • 2
    (@WaltPatrick if this is the movie, would you kindly mark the answer as The Answer, by clicking the check mark left of the post, below the up/down arrows?)
    – BruceWayne
    Jan 4, 2018 at 8:23
  • Thanks a lot, this movie was mentioned years ago by a friend of my moms and now reading the part about "the Old Ones" made me remember all that.
    – Ege Bayrak
    Jan 4, 2018 at 14:10

It wasn't a "short, black & White" movie, but this is very much like the premise of In Time, which starred Justin Timberlake.

Humans had been genetically engineered -- they no longer aged (protagonist's mother looked 25, so did the protagonist), but had a display on their arm of the remaining time in their life. Time was literally money -- you got paid for your job in hours (hopefully much more an 1:1), you spent time for rent, bills, and groceries -- and if you ran completely out of time, you died, right there on the spot.

  • 15
    Given that length and colourisation are pretty clear components of a film, and the described film has marked differences in plot from In Time, ignoring them just to mention a film that shares a concept isn't answering the question as asked.
    – Nij
    Jan 3, 2018 at 3:11
  • 16
    @Nij Many times people looking for stories to identify misremember aspects of them. I think you're being a little harsh to the answerer. I for one thought that this could be it too.
    – spacetyper
    Jan 3, 2018 at 6:54
  • 4
    "A key part of the story involves the person going to the central temporal authority to petition that his mother be given more time." - this virtually guarantees that In Time is not the film concerned in the question. To suggest it as an answer is to suggest one did not actually watch it. I certainly noted the similarity, but there's nothing else besides the "life time as currency" concept that they have in common. @spacetyper
    – Nij
    Jan 3, 2018 at 10:18
  • 16
    This may not answer the OP's question, but given the hot status and the title of this question, there'e a high probability that it may be an answer for people coming from Google looking for this specific movie.
    – zakinster
    Jan 3, 2018 at 12:37
  • 6
    @Nij For what it's worth, The Price of Life is no more black-and-white than In Time is. Jan 3, 2018 at 18:04

I think you are looking for a short film called "The Price of Life" produced in 1987 by Stephen Tolkin. While its not in B&W it does sound like what your referring to in plot and premise.


In the future money is not the most valuable commodity -- not stocks or shares. Instead the currency of choice is time and the populace are able to trade hours, days and weeks off their lives in exchange for services and goods. Into this world is born baby Zachary -- who grows into a little boy with a game plan and a scheme to make more time; whereas his sister swaps weeks for sweets etc as if it didn't matter. As adults, Zachary has continued this path, but so has his sister and he finds himself trying to challenge the rules to try and save her and his mother.

Also why is the off-topic answer getting up-votes but mine is getting down-votes?

  • 9
    I don't know why the off-topic "answer" got up-votes, but this might have gotten a down-vote as being almost a duplicate of the answer from 9 hours ago.
    – RonJohn
    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:47
  • 1
    IMHO being late to answer shouldn't be a reason to downvote, it's not a bad answer. It could be a duplicate but it's better to see consensus on one movie than seeing 5 different answers all with upvotes. Jan 3, 2018 at 7:51
  • Thank you @workoverflow especially since I saw the question and saw that it wasn't marked as answered and I new what movie he was talking about. Jan 3, 2018 at 10:28
  • 2
    Note that, while the OP hasn't marked the other answer as correct as of this time, they did note in the comments that it was correct. Personally, if there's more info that you have to add to an existing answer than can fit into the comments, I see no issue with providing a secondary answer; however, it's polite to note that someone else has indeed given the same answer already. Ideally, we want to wind up with one definitive answer, rather than a number of answers with bits and pieces of the available information.
    – RDFozz
    Jan 3, 2018 at 17:48
  • 1
    Except I knew the answer and assumed that since the question has not been marked as answered i would put together my answer and post it here. I did not open the post and go through all the potential answers simply because I felt I new the answer myself and if it had already been stated before myself it would have been marked. As such it still doesn't explain why my answer gets downvotes while an offtopic answer gets upvotes. Jan 4, 2018 at 4:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.