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Make Way For Tomorrow (1937)

 

 Pff living with your children, what do you think!
How dare you impose yourself on your children! It's not like you raised them or anything!

Genre: Drama

Starring: Victor Moore (Swing Time), Beulah Bondi (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington • It's a Wonderful Life)

Directed By: Leo McCarey (An Affair to Remember The Awful Truth)

Overview: When an elderly couple tell their children the bank is foreclosing on their house, the children try to accommodate them, but no one will take them both, so the couple married fifty years is split up for the first time.

Performance:

Beulah plays 'Ma' Copper ever so perfectly.  We truly feel for her plight of wanting to be with her long time husband as well as taking her cute-old-lady side of the argument in most of the scenes, but at the same time, we understand the children's concerns when she causes the occasional inconvenience.  
Rating: 9

Cinematography:

When a film trudges along, not setting any standards but not breaking any rules, you might be surprised by some of the most inferior rear projection you've ever seen.  As the old couple walks in the streets of New York City, we see a muddy, grainy background with our crisp characters pretending to walk in front of it, and by pretending I mean no treadmill, just fake walking. I'm glad they kept it to a minimum.  Those scenes in that panoramic hotel barely make up for it.
Rating: 7

Script:

We have a nice mesh of what you would expect old people to talk about: reliving of the past, getting sucked into long drawn out tales, and talk of how it used to be, but it's witty, and often wise too, like when the 17-year-old girl takes grandma along with her to the movies, but ditches her for a date.  When the girl comes back just as it's ending, she tries to engage grandma in conversation asking what she though of 'the boy' in the film.  Grandma replies,  "I only saw him for a little bit as you were getting out of the car". She's full of zingers that one.  A touch of tragic, a touch of drama, and a smattering of comedy makes for an entertaining show.
Rating: 8

Plot:

More like Make The Old Folk Get Out Of The Way, the story is a very well told commentary on society losing its connection to the older generation.  Granted, there's a little bit of suspension of disbelief in the idea that 'Pa' didn't plan ahead and sell the house years before it was foreclosed, and to think that any family would split up their own parents when trouble rears it's ugly head, well that's just strange, especially when we see the old manners of 1937, with men getting up when a woman enters the room, and the fear that comes of having a 17-year-old girl who 'gets into trouble' and might, god forbid, get her own apartment! I found it to be a very rewarding tale, and the sort of thing you don't see too often, About Schmidt and Venus aside...
Rating: 8

Mood:

In one scene, we find a married couple (Anita and George) trying to figure out what to do with George's old mother during Bridge night.  You see, Anita teaches Bridge, and many people are going to be there tonight.  There are some amusing moments, like when Grandma comes out into the living room full of people all dressed up, and sits down at her rocking chair that squeaks loudly as people look on, but we also have more touching moments and foreshadowing when she gets an expensive long-distance call from her husband and proceeds to speak loudly to him as the Bridge players wait for her to finish.  This scene cinches the essence of the film: there's enough manners and kindness to go around until you're faced with changing your lifestyle for your aging parents, no matter how cute and lonely they are... 
Rating: 9

 Director felt so bad about throwing his Momma out on the street that he made this movie, but still didn't take her in...
Director Leo McCarey felt so bad about throwing his Momma out on the street that he made this movie... but he still never took her in, I mean, she needed special care... and think of the children!

Overall Rating: 82% (Today's Good Too!)
Aftertaste:

Because I'm not one to look into what a 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die film is about,  I had it in my head that this was some fluffy musical about who knows what.  I was pleasantly surprised, not being such a fan of the Musical Genre. Girlfriend of Squish didn't like the ending. I did. It's a solid tale that shows the values of an era quite well in just a couple of scenes, as well as being enjoyable and entertaining.  It's hard to find though, so if you want to borrow my copy, just let me know! 

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"More like Make The Old Folk Get Out Of The Way" - hehe, I like that! yeah, they were pretty slow moving. Despite feeling as their children while watching the first half of this movie, it was surprising how well this film actually worked. The final scene of the old couple departing at the train station is incredibly moving for such a simple plot. It's amazing that the studio didn't re-shoot a happy Hollywood ending.


Apparently they tried to force a happy ending but Leo McCarey refused and got sacked because of it. Also critics were so excited by it that they called it the saddest film ever, so people stayed away from the movie (The copy I got have excellent extra material!).

What I found really wonderful about this movie is the lack of overacting. It is such a dominant feature of the thirties movies, probably a left over from the silents. But this one is so natural and real that you can really believe in the characters in the way of a modern movie. And it is not just limited to the main characters. Even minor parts like the doctor or the jewish friend are acting normal. Makes me look forward to the coming Leo McCarey movies.  

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