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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>
After seeing the day's mail, Lucy sits forward, but in the next shot is leaning back. See more »
You know, I sometimes think that children should never grow past the age when you have to tuck them into bed every night.
That's right. When they get older, and you can't give them as much as other choldren, they're ashamed of you, and when you give them everything and put them through college,
[He folds his arms]
they're ashamed of you.
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Make Way for Tomorrow is one of the most personal, heart-wrenching films every recorded on celluloid. Though it's story is utterly sad, nay, depressing, it is one of the most beautiful films ever made. It does not hold back and goes places the heart and mind would not like to wander of to.
We find ourselves in the midst of the Great Depression. A time before social security was put into play. We are introduced to Barkley and Lucy Cooper (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi), an elderly couple who have just lost their home to the bank. They have known for several months, but saw no need to panic and tell their children just a few days before they are expected to move. The children are none too pleased that their parents are losing their house. More so because they will have to bare the burden of caring for them while they try and find a place of their own. With the unstable economy, it might be a while.
Lucy stays with her son George (Thomas Mitchell) and his wife and child while Barkley stays with their daughter Cora, several hundred miles apart from Lucy. They both find life with their children to be a bit unbearable. They have their good days, but mostly they find themselves getting in the way and becoming a nuisance. George's wife and daughter complain of being constantly bothered and having to deal with Lucy. Meanwhile Barkley health starts to get worse and Cora reluctantly must look after him.
The doctor says that Barkley must move to a warmer climate or else he could get worse. Lucy too finds that she is being shooed away by her own family. It is decided that Barkley must go to California with their other daughter but that only he can go because that is all their daughter can handle at the moment. Lucy and Barkley get together and spend the day with each other before he must head out west.
Just thinking of this sweet couple and what they are going through is hard. After having spent 50 years together, living in the same house and raising five children, to suddenly have everything taken away and having to live far apart must be devastating. They endure and try to make the best, just like they have been doing their whole lives.
One would think that the children, who were raised and cared for by their parents, would be sympathetic and a little less critical about the situation. It's hard to imagine that collectively their children can muster up the heart to care for their aging parents.
McCarey, whose work primarily consisted of both physical and witty comedies, delivers a much darker and emotional whopper of a film. It doesn't hold back and delivers scene after scene a new piece of drama that just makes you want to reach out and help these people. His style is not the most technically advanced, but the story he delivers is second to none. One aspect of his film-making that I enjoyed were the longer shots of conversation and contemplation. It makes the actors work harder and gets a much more personal performance onto the screen.
The acting is spot on. Both Moore and Bondi give fantastic performances, each playing their age perfectly. Somewhat forgetful yet always sincere and never mean. The children too, especially Mitchell, do a wonderful job in conveying their feelings about their situation. It's obvious that these aren't the greatest children in the world, but they are by no means the worst. Mitchell truly feels sorry for his parents, but he is also aware that he has a family that needs taking care of and their needs have been placed higher than his parents.
The final scenes of this film are some of the most intense and moving ever. I mean ever. I have never been more surprised, delighted, and completely torn apart over what was unfolding before my eyes. It's an absolutely brilliant sequence of events, culminating to an end that only a master of his craft could orchestrate.
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