Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Year: 1946

Director: Irving Pichel

Cast: Claudette Colbert, Orson Welles, George Brent, Lucille Watson, Natalie Wood

Much like many of the greatest movies ever made, Tomorrow is Forever is a powerful and emotional film about sacrifice and putting the greater good above your own will.

Claudette Colbert plays a young wife named Elizabeth at the end of World War One. The war is now over and everyone is celebrating. Unfortunately, she receives a telegram informing her that her husband has been killed.

This film deals with the horror of war and how even conflicts far removed can have effects that ripple across the globe. It is also a film that deals with self sacrifice and seeing the bigger picture. To me, such noble and universal themes so masterfully executed are what makes this film so powerful, effective and impressive. This is a film that bores into the soul and touches, enlightens and inspires. It is a tragic story, but one that also generates optimism about the nature of mankind and the ability we have in all of us to step up when the going gets tough.

Orson Welles gives the most memorable performance of the film as Elizabeth’s husband John. Apparently, due to William Randolph Hearst’s objection to Citizen Kane and his desire to ruin Orson Welles, Welles was avoided by Hollywood but Claudette Colbert who was a big star was able to get him cast in Tomorrow is Forever. It is a good thing too. Orson gives another great performance. We see his character transform and mature and Welles portrays this transformation flawlessly.

It is worth pointing out that this was also Natalie Wood’s first credited role. She was just eight years old when the film was released. Even at such a young age she shows considerable talent.

My only real complaint with the film is that there is an essential plot point that comes across as contrived and hard to swallow, but because it was used to further what I thought was a powerful theme, I found it more excusable. Those who have seen the film will know what I am referring too. It has to do with two characters not recognizing each other after the passage of about 21 years. Perhaps with different makeup it would have been easier to swallow but as it is, you have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit to accept that there wouldn’t be complete recognition of one another.

I highly recommend this film.

By Greg Dickson


Year: 1947

Director: Robert Wise

Cast: Lawrence Tierney, Claire Trevor, Walter Slezak, Phillip Terry, Audrey Long

Sam Wild is a man who is inexplicably confident and is willing to trample over anyone in his way to get where he is going. His confidence ends up taking him places, despite being a nobody. He is impulsive and dangerous. Women want him and wise men stay out of his way. When he encounters Helen Trent, played by Claire Trevor, she begins to fall for him, despite her engagement to a successful man who means stability and comfort for her, which she claims to desperately desire.

There is a difference between characters making poor choices and characters making choices that are contrived to further the story.

At times this film teeters on the line between the two. There are too many moments that seem contrived and hard to swallow, including some of the actions of Sam Wild. His character comes across as sensational at times. This is Hollywood trying to be shocking, and not being as convincing as I would like.

Had they ironed out the script a little I think this film could have been so much more.

There are some memorable performances by some great actors in it however.

Elisha Cook Jr. plays Sam’s best friend and the relationship between the two is interesting to watch and analyze. His devotion becomes more and more interesting. It seems Sam’s confidence is attractive to everyone, and even breeds devotion from those like his friend who would be better off not associating with such an impulsive man. Keep your eyes peeled for the interaction between these two.

Esther Howard is also fun to watch as an old woman who amuses herself vicariously through the escapades of young women she befriends, especially one Laury Palmer who ends up dead after she is spotted by her boyfriend with another man.

This movie is worth seeing but mostly forgettable. Despite my relative indifference towards the film I can understand those who really enjoy it and unlike some films that don’t overly impress me I wouldn’t want to discourage people from seeing it. I think some of the ideas behind the film are quite intriguing in fact, I just didn’t feel they were executed as well as I would have liked.

Seinfeld fans will remember Lawrence Tierney, who plays Sam Wild, as Elaine’s intimidating father. It seems Lawrence Tierney had a face for intimidation. He is intimidating in this film as well, and is just wild enough (his last name can’t be a coincidence) that he should be feared and avoided.

By Greg Dickson