In the Depression, Pete and Sidney are good kids, working hard, giving money to their parents, and engaged for three years while they save to get married. Each has a selfish mother: ...
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Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
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In the Depression, Pete and Sidney are good kids, working hard, giving money to their parents, and engaged for three years while they save to get married. Each has a selfish mother: Sydney's is cold, Pete's is clingy. Sidney's mother is looking for her own happiness, no matter how much that search harms her daughter and long-suffering husband; and, the longer the engagement lingers, the more pressure Pete's mom puts on Sidney to break it off and set her son free. "After Tomorrow" is Pete and Sidney's favorite song, but with illness, poverty, and temptation: will that good day ever come? Written by
Anyone reading the plot of After Tomorrow would rightly avoid this film as a weeper of the first order. That Borzage turned it into a riveting horror film is evidence of his great skill. Every performance is wonderful, natural. We all know at least some of these characters because they are so real and universal. Josephine Hull is amazing. Gombell and Collier steal the film with some of the most realistic performances I've ever seen. And even Charles Farrell is well suited for his roll. (I had watched Liliom the day before and couldn't imagine anyone less suited for a roll.) Because the plot is ordinary, Howe's photography is less apparent than usual but still shines.
Because the story is so ordinary and the characters so real, their problems affect us strongly. That they seem insurmountable affects us deeply. This is what true horror is about, worrying that nice people will come to a bad end. It's a film that must be seen once but probably shunned thereafter because it is so strong - sort of like Re- Animator (1985).
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