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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
Touching and Intimate Social Drama of the Depression
This is an intimate portrayal of ordinary people during the Depression struggling against lack of money, wayward and selfish parents, inability to get married (waiting for four years to have enough money), and many vicissitudes of everyday life which are often extremely harrowing. The characters are all 'extraordinarily ordinary', meaning that there is nothing at all remarkable about any of them, none is particularly bright, none has much ambition, and the heroine's one aim in life is to get married to her totally uninteresting boyfriend, who never takes his hat off when he is engaging in intimate conversations with her and has nothing to recommend him, not even a bit of charm. Marian Nixon is a frail, squeaky-voiced but delightfully innocent actress who plays the heroine. She has eyes too wide apart, but she loves her man, loves her man, loves her man. It is very touching because she really means it. Her performance is entirely convincing. Her mother, played by Minna Gombell, is embittered, hard, selfish, and disloyal, but Marian is such a goodie goodie she never even notices. William Collier Senior is an excellent father for Marian, gentle, loving, but hopeless because he has lost all initiative. This is not a film to see to cheer oneself up, but it is an honest and sensitive social drama which is well made and of great interest as a period piece. It is remarkably lacking in any trace of affectation, and being pre-code, it is unrestrained by the ludicrous restrictions soon to be placed on dialogue and action in Hollywood. The title 'after tomorrow' refers to the fact that everything is being deferred to tomorrow because of poverty, and 'after tomorrow' is the dream when it all might have happened. The script has a lot of wit. The direction is good. Charles Farrell plays the boyfriend, and he is really so uninteresting in every respect, looks, character, aspirations, that how anyone could be in love with him is a mystery. So maybe this is a new kind of mystery film: how people who are so ordinary that making a film about them seems an impossibility nevertheless make us want to watch them enacting their difficult lives. Probably the best performance in the film is by Josephine Hull, whose well-rounded portrayal of an infinitely exasperating and despicably selfish and self-indulgent mother of the boyfriend is a triumph of the dramatic art. The rapid oscillations in her moods, her alternating endearments and curses, her rudderless cascade of self obsession, are portrayed with the finesse of a lace maker.
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