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MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937)

Make Way for Tomorrow - Cover'The Criterion Collection' have recently released a digitally enhanced version of the 1937 classic, 'Make Way for Tomorrow'. It was directed by Leo McCarey; it starred Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi, Fay Bainter, and Thomas Mitchell; and it lasts for 91-minutes. Plus, as an extra added bonus, the Blu-ray edition comes with two interviews recorded in 2009. One was with the late, great, Peter Bogdanovich, while the other interview was with the film critic, Gary Giddins. Please enjoy.


Make Way for Tomorrow (The Criterion Collection)


THE STORY:
Three months! I have to wait three whole months before I can see my wife again. But only because the bank took our house away from us and now we have to live with our kids, our grown-up kids, in different parts of America.

Well, due to the lack of space, I'm currently living here in the suburbs with our daughter, Cora (Elisabeth Risdon), and her husband, Bill (Ralph Remley), while my wife, Lucy (Beulah Bondi), is staying with our eldest son in the city. That's until our other daughter is able to persuade her husband to get us a new place to stay, which she says, should take about three whole months.

In the meantime, though, I'm here in the suburbs and Lucy is over there with our son, George (Thomas Mitchell), along with his cautious wife, Anita (Fay Bainter), and their lively daughter, Rhoda (Barbara Read), who loves going out and having fun with her friends.

But then again, so do I, which is why what next transpires goes from here to California when I say to myself, 'Barkley Cooper (Victor Moore)! I think I might have caught a cold and need a change of environment!'. As grown-up kids avoid some strife - a sick husband wants to see his wife - a city is as sharp as a metallic knife - and at the end of the day, please remember, some elderly couples just want to live their life.




THE REVIEW:
According to legend, Leo McCarey decided to direct this film because of a series of tragic events that caused him to question his own mortality. It all began in 1936 while he was making the Harold Lloyd comedy, 'The Milky Way', when he accidentally drank some contaminated milk and became very, very ill. In fact, he became so ill, that he wasn't able to attend his father's funeral when he suddenly passed away.

Make Way for Tomorrow - Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi
So, to come to terms with his father's death and his own mortality, Leo eventually agreed to direct, 'Make Way for Tomorrow'. Or as I like to call it, 'Everyone's a F*cker!', but only because I was brought up in an ethnic, multi-generational household, and know, first-hand, what it's like living with people who are roughly the same age (no comment), notably older (ditto), and someone who's older still (I love my nan). Saying so while keeping in mind that no two people are exactly alike, and sometimes, the only things that separate us aren't associated with age or background, but rather, mentality or culture.

Well, no matter what way you want to look at it, growing older is something that everyone handles in their own unique way. While some prefer to ignore aging by living life to the best of their abilities, others, on the other hand, treat it as a death knell, or even a countdown to their eventual demise. Although, where this film is concerned, overall, it doesn't judge how some people perceive old age. Not directly, anyway, yet it does present us with a simple dilemma (elderly parents lose their home) and two short-term solutions (due to the lack of space, each parent has to live with a different kid until a proper resolution can be found). Here's a rough summary for each of these solutions...

Make Way for Tomorrow - Grandmother and Granddaughter
Solution One: In this scenario, we see the matriarch of the family, Lucy, living with her son, his wife, and their daughter in their apartment in the city. But does she enjoy living there? No, not really, because even though it's fairly obvious that Lucy loves her relatives very, very much, in the same breath, she's also missing her husband and doesn't quite fit in. Sometimes, she irritates her daughter-in-law by either usurping her household duties (cleaning her son's shirts) or affecting her work-at-home job (teaching people how to play cards). While, at other times, her inquisitive behavior makes her granddaughter and her friends feel uncomfortable and prefer to socialize outside. So, after a while, her son's forced to make a decision that he doesn't really want to make. A decision that once again splits the family apart.

Solution Two: Now, unlike his wife, the patriarch of the family, Barkley, manages to fit in with his new surroundings. But not because he has a warm and cozy relationship with his next of kin, which in this case, includes his daughter and her husband. If anything, they tolerate each other at best. But he does get along with a local, Jewish shopkeeper who shares the same sensibilities. Although, halfway through this film, all of that suddenly changes when Barkley catches a cold and is instructed to live elsewhere.


Make Way for Tomorrow - The Sick Man in Bed


Make Way for Tomorrow - Poster
Anyway, that's enough of that for the time being, because now seems like a pretty good time for us to sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) 'Paramount Pictures' first released this drama in America on the 30th of April, 1937. (2) This film was based on a play that was adapted from a novel called, 'Years Are So Long'. The novel was released in 1934 and written by Josephine Lawrence, and the play was made later and written by Helen and Noah Leary. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled, 'Two People' in Denmark, 'At the Twilight of Life' in France, and 'Dusk' in Sweden. (4) The majority of this movie was made inside 'Paramount Studios', which's located at 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California. (5) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states, 'A Human Story of Domestic Affairs!'. (6) Even though it's not featured in this film, you might like to know that the movie the grandmother and granddaughter go to see was the 1937 nautical adventure, 'Souls at Sea'. (7) Throughout the years, a number of noted directors publicly admired this film, including John Ford, Frank Capra, and Jean Renoir. Heck, even Orson Welles was a big fan, and once said that this film 'would make a stone cry'. (8) Since its release, this drama has inspired the creation of two other films. The first one's a Japanese film named 'Tokyo Story', which was released in 1953 and directed by YasujirĂ´ Ozu. Whereas the second one's an Indian film called 'Baghban', which was released in 2003 and directed by Ravi Chopra. Allegedly, the Indian film's an unofficial adaptation.


Make Way for Tomorrow - The Elderly Couple


In closing my review of 'Make Way for Tomorrow', I'd like to talk about the overall style of this film. Well, on a visual level, everything we see on the screen is bright, nicely composed, and very easy to follow. This includes scenes featuring conservatively decorated apartments, panoramic views of New York, and back-projection depicting the city streets (et cetera, et cetera, et cetera). Whereas on an acoustic level, the vast majority of the music played in the background was either classical in its composition or very much of its time.

Make Way for Tomorrow - The Kids
Similarly, I can also say the same thing about the performances featured in this film (as those were very much of their time, too). Although, in this case, each actor was able to convey their respective character without seeming too one-dimensional in tone. Victor Moore, for instance, portrayed Barkley Cooper as if he were a timid accountant with both a lovable and a stubborn side. While Beulah Bondi, on the other hand, played his wife, Lucy Cooper, as if she were a kind, old granny who's partly adorable and partly annoying. In addition to this, I would also like to mention some of the other actors who starred in this film, such as Thomas Mitchell (George), Fay Bainter (Anita), and Maurice Moscovitch (Max), because they all gave their respective characters some much-needed depth by conveying emotions that sometimes clouded their perceptions.

After all, that's precisely what the last portion of this film insinuates when it shows a series of strangers treating the elderly couple better than their own kin. In their family's defense, though, these strangers only spend a short amount of time with the couple and weren't impeded by any sort of obligation. Either way, this notion, along with a number of other notions peppered throughout the plot, kind of defines the basic message behind this funny, romantic, and very poignant film. A message that tells the audience to treat others as they would like to be treated themselves, as well as the fact that love comes in a variety of different forms, regardless of age.

THE RATING: A+

MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) Reviewed by David Andrews on April 25, 2022 Rating: 5

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