How do we understand faith and prayer, and what of miracles? August 1925 on a Danish farm. Patriarch Borgen has three sons: Mikkel, a good-hearted agnostic whose wife Inger is pregnant, ... See full summary »
Carl Theodor Dreyer
Emil Hass Christensen,
Preben Lerdorff Rye
Sometime in the early years of the century, a boy, Apu, is born to a poor Brahmin family in a village in Bengal. The father, a poet and priest, cannot earn enough to keep his family going. ... See full summary »
Apu is a jobless ex-student dreaming vaguely of a future as a writer. An old college friend talks him into a visit up-country to a village wedding. This changes his life, for when the ... See full summary »
This study of Cuba--partially written by renowned poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko--captures the island just before it made the transition to a post-revolutionary society. Moving from city to ... See full summary »
In Tokyo in 1888, Kikunosuke Onoue, the adoptive son of an important actor, discovers that he is praised for his acting only because he is his father's heir, and that the troupe complains ... See full summary »
Edmund, a young boy who lives in war-devastated Germany after the Second World War has to do all kinds of work and tricks to help his family in getting food and barely survive. One day he ... See full summary »
At a family reunion, the Cooper clan find that their parents' home is being foreclosed. "Temporarily," Ma moves in with son George's family, Pa with daughter Cora. But the parents are like sand in the gears of their middle-aged children's well regulated households. Can the old folks take matters into their own hands? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nellie's arm jumps from her ear to her lap when she says, "I'll have to talk to Harvey about it." See more »
Why don't you face facts, Grandma?
[Pats her hand]
When you're seventeen and the world's beautiful, facing facts is just as slick fun as dancing or going to partis, but when you're seventy... well, you don't care about dancing, you don't think about parties anymore, and about the only fun you have left is pretending that there ain't any facts to face, so would you mind if I just went on pretending?
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There is a misconception caused by President John Kennedy's administration that Americans have swallowed. He was the youngest man to be elected President, and he and his wife Jacqueline looked even younger than they were because they followed Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower as residents of the White House: sort of like the change each December 31/January 1st from the old man with the scythe representing the old year to the young cherub being born. In his inauguration he walked walked back from the Capitol Building and he had taken off his top hat while giving his inauguration speech. The speech itself ended with his classic peroration, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country!" Youth was also pushed in policy projects like the Peace Corps and in Kennedy's pushing physical fitness. Ironically his actual physical condition, despite his publicized touch football games and his boating trips, was quite bad. But the public never knew that, and as a result there is this widespread belief that after 1960 this country embraced a cult of youth.
It's not true - earlier Presidents pushed active, healthy, youthful images. Theodore Roosevelt pushed "the vigorous life" and healthy exercise (he was actually the youngest man to become President, upon McKinley's assassination). Franklin Roosevelt's youthful good looks were part of his appeal against the seemingly heavy featured Herbert Hoover (Roosevelt's physical disability from polio was under-discussed by the press - it was a different era). Other youthful men were elected President before the two Roosevelts, such as Franklin Pierce and Grover Cleveland in their days. In the 1850s Pierce was pushed as representing vigorous "Young America" in his policies. In reality he represented bungling, but that is another story.
The American people embraced youth like all people do - it is the time to accomplish your dreams while you have the power to do so. But while other peoples (the Chinese, for example) had a tradition of respecting the elderly - supposedly the Americans did not. How true this is is hard to say. But Leo McCarey's MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is his comment on this national failing. It is a harsh look at the issue, and it doesn't mince words.
Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi are "Pa" and "Ma" Cooper, the elderly heads of a family of four grown-up children. One day they call their children (and their spouses) home to tell them some news. It is the Depression, and Pa's pension ran out. When did this happen? About seven or eight months back - the fact is he is broke and they are about to lose their home.
The news does not sit well with the children. The best of them, Thomas Mitchell (and his wife Fay Bainter) have a large apartment, but it is only large for them, and their daughter, and ONE parent. The other children are not keen on taking the other parent. The end result is that Minna Gombell and her husband (Porter Hall) begrudgingly take in Moore, while Mitchell and Bainter agree to take in Bondi.
What we watch is the slow strangulation of an elderly couple. Even given the best of intentions by Mitchell and Bainter, Bondi finds herself seen as a specter at a feast, annoying her bratty granddaughter, and accidentally interfering with Bainter's bridge lessons (which are very useful for additional income in the Depression). Gombell and Hall barely tolerate the elderly, somewhat infirm Moore. The tragic thing is the old couple are kindly and sweet, and fully aware (without harpies like Gombell and Hall reminding them) of being burdensome in the current situation).
The film ends with Moore having to move from New York City (where he and Bondi are still able to see each other every day) to the West Coast for his health (to the home of another child). The day he leaves he and Bondi decide to spend entirely alone - Moore even has a chance to telephone an insult to the ungrateful Gombell. They visit the hotel they went to half a century earlier for their honeymoon when they came to New York. They walk the old familiar streets passed spots they recall from the 1890s. They even get a chance to take a ride in a fancy limousine, due to the kindness of a salesman - a far kinder individual than most of their children. At the end, Moore is escorted to the train that will take him forever from her across country. She waves goodbye to him as the music swells with "Let Me Call You Sweetheart". The final shot is of a saddened, resigned Bondi walking away into personal loneliness and oblivion.
It is one of the most heartbreaking movies ever filmed, and nothing McCarey did (not THE AWFUL TRUTH, LOVE AFFAIR, GOING MY WAY, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S, or AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER) are as good as this was. It's two leads did very well in their roles, Moore especially using his normal comedy persona as a pitiful figure of personal tragedy. Bondi is fragile and great up to that last moment. As her one loyal son Mitchell is first rate - he needs Bondi's reassurance that he was her favorite child when he tells her that she will have to move to another child's home. Bainter does a fine balancing act, trying to be a dutiful daughter - in - law, but finding her lifestyle threatened by this poor old woman. It is one of the high-points of the classic age of Hollywood sound films, and yet it is not as well known as it should be. Catch it next time it is playing on television, and then consider what your own old age will be like - or what you think it will be like. You may get frightened.
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