Director: Frank Borzage
Cast: Charles Farrell, Marian Nixon, Minna Gombell, William Collier Sr, Josephine Hull, William Pawley, Greta Grandstedt
Peter (Farrell) and Sidney (Nixon) are a pair of young lovers in the midst of the Depression. They want to marry each other, but can’t yet afford it, because Peter’s mother refuses to move in with them. So they continue to work and save, despite the feeling that it will never happen. Sidney’s mother (Gombell) is miserable in her home life and wants to run away with her lover (Pawley).
After Tomorrow is definitely one of the lesser films on the DVD set. Borzage’s themes of love overcoming all obstacles are still very prevalent, but it doesn’t quite hit on a spiritual, transcendant level of his best work. His young lovers also aren’t nearly as interesting as most of his others, like Chico and Diane, Bill and Trina, or Tim and Mary. Despite the difficulties and roadblocks in their relationship, there’s a lack of emotional complication that makes Borzage’s love stories so amazing. Farrell and Nixon are both very good in their roles as the idealistic couple, though. They have strong chemistry, and there are several scenes where they click so well as a couple that it just puts a smile on your face.
The emotional complications of the film come from the older characters, in particular Minna Gombell’s restless mother. Really, I’d say the core of the films emotional conflict comes from her, and she’s certainly the most interesting part of the film. Gombell was a fantastic character actress who I’m only really just now completely discovering, and she’s quite the talent. This character could come off as detestable, but even when she does horrible things, Gombell makes her sympathetic. And Borzage is able to make us identify with both her and her jilted husband and child.
After Tomorrow also lacks the fairy tale feel of a Borzage film. While it’s set in the depths of the Depression, which completely effects the lives of all the characters, it feels a lot more raw and real than Borzage’s other efforts. This is probably one of the most realistic depictions I’ve seen of the Depression.
Held up against other Borzage works, After Tomorrow is definitely one of his lesser, least interesting films. But held up on its own, it’s a very solid romance with some interesting characters.
By Katie Richardson