Young freewheeling wanderer Jerry Day and his beautiful wife Toni are at odds over their lifestyle. Jerry can't accept responsibility but Toni yearns for a family and a settled life. Then ... See full summary »
Young freewheeling wanderer Jerry Day and his beautiful wife Toni are at odds over their lifestyle. Jerry can't accept responsibility but Toni yearns for a family and a settled life. Then the Days 'rediscover' Jerry's young daughter Pennie, who has been living with his rich deceased wife's family. Pennie appears to be just what Jerry needs to mend his swindling ways and lead a straight life. Despite the responsibility of his new family, Jerry is swayed by the corruptible influence of jewelry thief Felix Evans. When Evans lures Jerry into a job, it puts the continuation of his new family life at risk. Written by
Gary Jackson <email@example.com>
NOW AND FOREVER (Paramount, 1934), directed by Henry Hathaway, based on the story "Honor Bright" by Jack Kirkwood and Melville Baker, stars two-time Academy Award winner Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard, best known for screwball comedies, in a leisurely paced drama made watchable for the early screen presence of little Shirley Temple. While noteworthy as a Temple film, NOW AND FOREVER virtually belongs to the adults, particularly Cooper in an offbeat performance.
The story opens in Shanghai where adventurer Jerome "Jerry" Day (Gary Cooper), along with his traveling companion/wife Toni (Carole Lombard) of three years (whom he constantly asks, "Who do you love?), staying at the Occidental Hotel. Aside from living out of suitcases, catching planes, trains and boats for their next destination, Jerry is also an international crook. Unable to pay his hotel bill, he acquires the cash posing as a hotel auditor from guests whose bills are long overdue. Fully aware of his background, Toni is surprised to learn that Jerry has a child ("For a man who talks so much, you say very little"), living under the guardianship of his late wife Elsie's rich brother (Gilbert Emery) at an estate in Connecticut. Instead of reclaiming his daughter, Jerry decides on making easy money by selling the custody over to him for $75,000. Unable to cope with this situation, Toni decides to remain in Paris while Jerry meets with his brother-in-law and attorney (Henry Kolker). Once Jerry meets with his daughter, Penelopie, better known as Penny (Shirley Temple), whom he hasn't seen since birth, he is touched by the child and takes her away with him. After sailing back to Paris, Jerry introduces Penny to Toni as her new mother. All goes well, with Jerry now earning an honest living as agent for Rivera Realty Company, until he meets up with Felix Evans (Sir Guy Standing), an elderly gentleman to whom he sold a phony gold mine for $5,000 while with Penny in New York. Being a crook himself, Felix let Jerry swindle him in order to blackmail him into stealing a valuable necklace belonging to Mrs. J.H.P. Crane (Charlotte Granville), a wealthy widow whom Penny has already befriended. Further complications arise for Jerry as Mrs. Crane, who senses his adventurous ways, wanting to adopt Penny in order to give her a better life than her father ever could.
NOW AND FOREVER became Temple's second and final loan-out assignment from her home base at Fox Studios, her first being LITTLE MISS MARKER (1934). Although both films are equal to the point of having its opening credits orchestrated to the score of "Laugh, You Son-of-a-Gun," LITTLE MISS MARKER has proved more favorable by today's standards than NOW AND FOREVER in spite its top name cast of Cooper and Lombard. Temple has little screen time with Lombard, but gets the most out of playing opposite the extremely tall Cooper as well as the elderly co-stars of Charlotte Granville (giving an Alison Skipworth-type performance) and Sir Guy Standing. Temple's most crucial scene occurs while crying after discovering Mrs. Crane's necklace hidden in her teddy bear, believing "Daddy" had stolen it, even worse after swearing "honor bright" to her that he didn't. This is followed by a touching scene of forgiveness with daughter kissing Daddy. Take notice that the portion where society woman wanting to adopt child was reworked into Temple's latter film, DIMPLES (20th-Fox, 1936) with Helen Westley as the matron and Frank Morgan as Temple's petty thief grandfather.
As much as Temple is seldom seen mixing with other children on screen, she gets an opportunity enacting briefly opposite Ronnie Cosbey as the little boy by the poolside with whom she trades roller skates, as well as entertaining children guests attending Mrs. Crane's dinner party by singing, sneezing and stomping her feet to the tune of "The World Owes Me a Living" (by Harry Revel and Mack Gordon).
Of all the Temple features produced from 1934 to 1940, NOW AND FOREVER appeared to be the only one not part of any Shirley Temple Film Festivals on commercial television during the 1960s and 70s. The movie did air regularly on television in the New York City area on WNEW, Channel 5 prior to 1979, usually during the mid morning or after midnight hours possibly for its theme being more adult than one appealing to children. There's even gun shooting involved, not typically found in Temple's family oriented films. Over the years NOW AND FOREVER had virtually disappeared from view until it finally surfaced in colorized format on home video through MCA Universal Home Video, making this, along with 20th-Fox's musical, YOUNG PEOPLE (1940), the only holdouts in Temple's filmography on VHS and DVD.
In spite of script weakness, NOW AND FOREVER remains of sole interest due to its principal players early in their careers, particularly Temple, whose popularity remains legendary, now and forever. Honor bright. (***)
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