Sunday, 21 April 2013

Make Way For Tomorrow (1937) – ★★★★

022310makeway718Director: Leo McCarey
Writers: Vina Delmar (Screenplay), Josephine Lawrence (Novel)
Stars: Beulah Bondi, Victor Moore, Fay Bainter, Thomas Mitchell, Elisabeth Risdon, Barbara Read

Make Way For Tomorrow was a movie made during the depression, where many struggled to stay afloat in a sea of hard times. The two leading characters, a very old mother and father of five, lost almost everything. It’s a story about the way they cope with being away from each other during a time where the elderly were burdensome to their families. With marvelous performances, a touching screenplay, and a ‘matter-of-fact’ approach to telling the story, this is an incredible film.

After losing their homes and almost all of their belongings to the bank, elderly couple Lucy (Beulah Bondi) and Barkley (Victor Moore), have no choice but to move in with their children. Unfortunately, there is no room in any of their children’s homes for the both of them, which forces them to separate and live far away from each other. With little communication with one another, and their children finding them increasingly bothersome, the old couple have a hard time adjusting to the new life they have been thrust into.

Beulah Bondi gave an awe-inspiring performance as Lucy, who has the power to break your heart with a simple sigh. She reminds me a lot of Jessica Tandy. She would be ideal to play the lead in Driving Miss Daisy (1989). However, she was the perfect choice to play a woman who has lost her husband in every way except ‘death.’ Her pairing with the brilliant (and unknown) Victor Moore turned into the most spectacular display of chemistry in the last sequences of the film. Together, these two felt like an authentic married couple of 50 years, which made the ending all the more sad.

Leo McCarey won an Oscar for Best Director the same year for his fantastically funny movie ‘The Awful Truth,’ starring Carey Grant and Irene Dunne. He famously quipped during his acceptance speech that he ‘won for the wrong movie.’ I agree with him completely. Make Way For Tomorrow is an important film for sons and daughters to see. With real, heartfelt performances and as Orson Welles once said, “A movie that could make a stone cry,” it is definitely one of the best movies of the 1930s.

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