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Rainer Werner Fassbinder
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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 <email@example.com>
When he moved to Columbia, Leo McCarey found himself often at loggerheads with its notoriously difficult head, Harry Cohn. Whenever he went over budget or fell behind schedule on The Awful Truth (1937), Cohn would remind him of the commercial failure of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). When The Awful Truth (1937) was released to great acclaim and excellent box office, McCarey led Cohn to believe that he would renew his contract with Columbia. But the day before they had agreed to sign, McCarey took out an ad in Variety announcing that he had just signed with RKO, the studio where he made two of his biggest hits, Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). See more »
The position of Mr. Rubens' arm changes when telling Bark that kids are ashamed of parents. See more »
Bark, that's probably the prettiest speech you ever made. And in case I don't see you aga- well, for a little while. I just want to tell you, it's been lovely, every bit of it, the whole fifty years. I'd sooner have been your wife, Bark, than anyone else on Earth.
Thank you, Lucy.
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One of the few American movies to look seriously (and reasonably honestly) at old age, this 1937 melodrama won wonderful reviews, but apparently it was so sad that audiences couldn't bear to look at it. While McCarey was justly celebrated for his sensitive direction, let's start with the shrewd, shaded screenplay, where nobody's entirely good or bad: The children do mean well, but let selfishness intervene; the aged parents are victims, but they're also unavoidably inconvenient and occasionally annoying. It is, unfortunately, a timeless topic -- parents turning into dependent children, children turning into their parents' parents, and the government yammering ineffectually about the problem decade after decade.
McCarey spins the tale out with subtle humor -- just a wink from Victor Moore, a visual aside by Beulah Bondi, says more than several lines of dialogue would. Plus, this is a couple whose passion has survived the years; they can't keep their hands off each other. The notion's a bit hard to swallow, perhaps a contrivance to tilt the viewer's sympathies more in their direction and away from the thoughtless middle-aged kids. But it does work dramatically and makes the last 20 minutes or so almost unbearably poignant. And the last shot, of Bondi, is unforgettable; it's up there with Garbo in "Queen Christina."
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