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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
I didn't expect much since Charles Farrell and Marian Nixon are the stars but this is a fine little domestic drama (from a Broadway play) about two Depression-Era young people trying to save enough money to get married. The film is directed by Frank Borzage.
The opening scenes take place in the newly complete Empire State Building as the couple looks out over the night-lit city, their future seeming to be as limitless as the view.
Then we get back to their Street Scene tenement neighborhood where the realities of life close in on them and stifle their future. Farrell lives with a grasping widowed mother (Josephine Hull) while Nixon lives were her unhappy parents (William Collier, Minna Gombell).
Gombell is planning to run off with another man; Collier is a failed salesman recovering from a heart attack. The young couple keeps squeezing nickels and dimes into their marriage account but something always comes up to rob them of their savings. Will they ever marry? Farrell (not a fave) is actually good here as the serious young man trying to get ahead; Nixon (substituting for Janet Gaynor) is terrific as the sweet girl trying to keep everyone happy. Collier is excellent as the loving failure of a dad. Gombell and Hull play 2 of the most unsympathetic mothers you'll ever see. Gombell feels she's been robbed of her youth; Hull is a smothering mother who can't let go of her son.
Borzage keeps the film moving and does a good job with the material. Hull is especially interesting here, long before her movie successes in Arsenic and Old Lace and Harvey. She's the only member of the Broadway cast to make it to the film.
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