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>
MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (Paramount, 1937), directed by Leo McCarey, ranks one of the very best and well scripted dramas from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and one worthy of recognition and/or rediscovery. No longer available on any local TV channel as it was in the 1970s, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW had frequent revivals on American Movie Classics, from June 20, 1994 until its final air date, April 3, 1999, and a Turner Classic Movies premiere September 6, 2010. Thus far, it's never been distributed on video cassette but DVD distribution did finally come many years later.
Yes, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is sad, moving, but so very true to life dealing realistically about coping with old age. Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi (in possibly the best film role in her entire career) play an elderly couple who lose their home and find that their adult children are finding excuses NOT to take them in. A situation that even rings true even by today's society. Leo McCarey won an Academy Award as Best Director that year for the comedy THE AWFUL TRUTH (Columbia), starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. McCarey was reported to have said that he had won for the wrong movie, that it should should have won for this one. I agree. As much as THE AWFUL TRUTH is a fine movie in its own right, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is a far better production, dramatically anyway.
In support here are Fay Bainter (in a rare unsympathetic role); Thomas Mitchell (the only one of the children to know how selfish he has been while the others refuse to realize it themselves), Porter Hall, Barbara Read (as the adolescent granddaughter) and Elisabeth Risdon. While MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW lacks star names, it consists of character actors in leading parts, which is just as good. Victor Moore, usually in comedic supporting parts or leads in program productions (better known as "B" movies), is fine in a rare dramatic role, but is overshadowed by Beulah Bondi, whose performance is excellent as well as tear inducing. Although she plays a woman possibly in her late 70s, she was actually 45 when the film was made. Sadly, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW did not receive a single Academy Award nomination. If a nomination was to be offered, it definitely would go to Bondi as Best Actress for such highlights as sitting sadly in her rocking chair as the radio plays the sentimental score of "I Adore You" as introduced in Paramount's own COLLEGE HOLIDAY (1936), along with her closing scene at the train station bidding husband Moore farewell to the underscoring of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," scenes that remain in memory long after the movie is over.
The plot might sound trite in print, but to see it is to appreciate the kind of movie that can never be remade in the same manner as the original nor come anywhere close to great motion picture making such as this one. (***1/2)
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