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Reporter Dick Powell in the gaslight era of 1896 big city America would
like to have the knowledge of the future. Well, think of all the scoops
he could have on his job. Later on that evening another staffer on the
paper John Philliber gives him a copy of tomorrow's evening addition.
And for the next three days Powell's life is turned topsy turvy trying
to take advantage of this most inside of information.
At this point in Dick Powell's career he was looking desperately to rejuvenate his career. His musical days were over, he left Warner Brothers, signed with Paramount looking for some straight acting parts, but Paramount mostly put him musicals and not as good as the ones he did with Warner Brothers.
Powell had scored some success in Preston Sturges's Christmas in July with no songs and he grabbed this one. He did well in the role here, but soon he'd change his screen image for all time later that year in Murder, My Sweet.
Exiled Rene Clair helmed this whimsical tale and got good results from his cast. Linda Darnell is as lovely as ever with her uncle Jack Oakie as a mind reading carnival act. And Edgar Kennedy does his patented slow burn as a police inspector who suspects the worst when Powell is scooping the police on some crime stories.
The plot has quite a few twists and turns and it would be a sin to give even one of them away. Powell and Darnell learn a most valuable lesson to take the future as it comes day by day. A little knowledge can indeed be a dangerous thing.
I first saw this film in the year of it's release in 1944 when I was 14 years old. I haven't seen it since I was in my early thirties and I am now in my middle seventies so perhaps I am viewing it through a rosy glow. I enjoyed Dick Powell as an actor once he got rid of playing in those silly musical films (42nd St type, etc)and rate this one a good comedy to compare at the side of his tougher vehicles like "Farewell My Lovely". His early death robbed the screen of an actor who hadn't yet fulfilled his potential. A pity there aren't more films like this one instead of the constant cycle of sex and violence with which the film industry is now preoccupied.
If you are a fan of the TV show "Early Edition" it should be noteworthy that
it was based on the film "It Happened Tomorrow," director Rene Clair's 1944
fantasy follow-up to his own "I Married a Witch."
This early "Early Edition" is a classic film whose story is like one of the great "Twilight Zone" episodes complete with twists, irony and a lesson to be learned. In comparison to contemporary offerings it is nice to see a film that is both fun and intelligent. Though technically a drama, this film has plenty of comedy too.
One of my favorite actresses, Lynda Darnell ("Forever Amber"), co-stars along side Dick Powell and one of the great comedic side-kick actors of all time Jack Oakie. Comedy film buffs watch for Eddie Acuff (the mailman in the Blondie series) in an uncredited role.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
And you thought "The New York Times" was the best newspaper that you could get your hands on? Well, then, just take a look at the paper that turn-of-the- century reporter Dick Powell gets a hold of, in the 1944 comedy/fantasy "It Happened Tomorrow." This sheet gives all the news that's fit to print a full day BEFORE the news actually happens! Imagine the possibilities for news scoops and gambling! But, oh...what happens if you should read your own obituary on page 1? Anyway, that's the setup for what turns out to be an absolutely charming little film, featuring classy production design and a first-rate cast. Powell, mustachioed here for a change, is extremely charismatic as our leading man; Linda Darnell, all of 23 in this film, is sweet and oh-so beautiful as the bogus seeress he becomes involved with; and Jack Oakie gives an extremely likable and high-energy performance as Linda's uncle (almost a reprise of his hilarious Benzino Napaloni from 1940's "The Great Dictator"). Fans of old-timey movies will be happy to note such famous character actors as Edgar Kennedy, Sig Ruman and Edward Brophy also gracing this fine cast. With its sweet "Twilight Zone"-ish story and upbeat moral of the undesirability of knowing the future, this is even a movie that adults can watch with the kiddies. While perhaps not in the same league as the previous year's turn-of-the-century fantasy "Heaven Can Wait," this is a film that should still manage to prove a winner for most viewers. It is also available on a new, crisp-looking DVD that only adds to the pleasure.
Certainly, the best reason to watch "It Happened Tomorrow" is that it
is fun to watch, with an interesting premise, a story and characters
that are pleasantly exaggerated to just the right degree, and a good
pace that keeps things moving. But it's not without a point, either,
and by keeping things from ever getting too serious, it's rather
effective in its implied observations.
The likable Dick Powell and the appealing Linda Darnell work well together, giving solid performances without trying to get more out of their characters than they should. Jack Oakie is nicely cast as the boorish uncle of Darnell's character, and he gets some very good moments.
The premise of reading tomorrow's news is certainly familiar in other forms and from other pictures, but it is the kind of interesting idea that always works well when it is in good hands. René Clair has the right feel for it, keeping things light most of the time, and adding some creative details. The story is often very clever in showing the ways that the advance knowledge both influences and misleads the characters.
The story moves fairly quickly, with some good period detail. It's an enjoyable movie and also, without being heavy-handed or obtrusive, illustrates some worthwhile ideas.
Rene Clair, the master of French Surrealist film, who collaborated with Francis Picabia, left France in the mid 1930's, and after a brief stop-over in he UK, came to Hollywood, where he made four films. This one is absolutely the best! Dick Powell is superb as the up-and-coming reporter who is given the chance to see tomorrow's headlines today (sounds like a bad TV show made in Chicago!)and Clair plays this (mis-)fortune out in excellent ways, combining whimsey, with pathos and humor, and bits of his old trademark, surrealism. Linda Darnell is also wonderful, and all fans of surrealism and sci-fi (after all, this is almost a form of time travel!) will enjoy this movie. Jack Oakie is also excellent, playing to his usual, funny and annoying character.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I bought the DVD and watched this film because I am a huge fan of the
TV show "Early Edition" not "Evening Edition" as mentioned in an
earlier post.I mention that show because the idea for it came from this
wonderful movie and I'm surprised no where on any website for the show
do the creators mention this movie as the inspiration for the show.Dick
Powell and Linda Darnell star along with Jack Oakie.I will combine both
and let the reader be the judge.
*spoiler info comparing "It Happened Tomorrow" and "Early Edition"
Larry(in movie) and Gary(TV show) both start getting tomorrow's newspaper. Larry gets his from the old man who also works at the paper(he's dead but Larry doesn't know it). Gary gets his from the cat who belonged to the old man who worked at the newspaper who's long dead but will visit Gary and talk to him in later shows. Both use the paper to get a large sum of money quick by betting at the track. Both have 2 companions(a man & woman) who know about the paper. Both save people from accidents after reading in the paper about their deaths.Both read their own obituary in the paper and have to change the headline. Both have a noted connection to a hotel in town.Lastly both the movie and the show have someone answer a want-ad that's in tomorrow's paper for an opening that doesn't exist/but an employee gets fired right in front of them,the boss then says to put an ad in tomorrow's paper which Larry/Garry have already read.
Mojo2004 Wash DC
"It Happened Tomorrow" could have stood a better beginning - the choice
to introduce the story with elderly Dick Powell and Linda Darnell (as
Larry and Sylvia Smith) celebrating 50 years of wedded bliss sacrifices
the story's surprises. The film does possess the light touch required
to make the framing sequence charming. But, director René Clair and Mr.
Powell build an unexpectedly good level of suspense regarding Powell's
courtship, and mortality. They are so good, you can almost forget how
much the opening gives away
Watch for a thoroughly delightful (and unfortunately rare) performance by sagely John Philliber (as "Pop" Benson). He plays the keeper of the "Evening News" "morgue" (a place where newspapers keep obituaries and other files). Possibly, Mr. Philliber had read his own notice; he died in 1944. Powell was also able to read the writing on the wall, and saved his fledgling career by pursuing more interesting roles (like this one). Jackie Oakie and Edgar Kennedy are also on board. This is a subtle celebration of life, and its mysteries.
******** It Happened Tomorrow (5/28/44) René Clair ~ Dick Powell, Linda Darnell, John Philliber, Jackie Oakie
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A sort of fantasy counterpart of the contemporary Ernst Lubitsch film
HEAVEN CAN WAIT, while parts of IT HAPPENED TOMORROW are set in the
1940s, at a vast family get together for the 50th Anniversary of
patriarch Dick Powell and matriarch Linda Darnell, the bulk of the film
is set in the same 1890s setting as the Lubitsch film. As it is
directed here by Rene Clair, he probably enjoyed the mixture of
nostalgia and fantasy (in this same period he also did I MARRIED A
WITCH with Veronica Lake and Frederick March).
Powell is a newspaper man who has finally been promoted from doing obituaries to reporting events by boss George Cleveland. He and some chums (including George Chandler) are celebrating his promotion when he has a conversation with the oldest employee of the paper, the newspaper morgue attendant (John Philiber). Philiber is pointing out that in every age there was a sense of a future which we now accept as part of the past, but that to know the future is not a blessing. After all, if you know the future, that includes all the bad things as well as the so-called good things. Powell, emboldened by some drinking and optimism at his promotion, feels Philiber is wrong and insists that he'd love to know the future.
Powell and his friends go out to a nearby theater/bar for entertainment, and they see a mentalist act of Jack Oakie (complete with fake Italian dialect) and his niece Darnell. Powell is attracted to Darnell, and begins making a pest of himself and his intentions to Oakie. Later he actually does take Darnell back to her rooming house. The when walking home he is stopped by Philiber, who presents him with the "evening" newspaper. But Powell does not realize that the newspaper is special. The next day he reads it and finds it is the evening paper of the next day, and it's events predict the incidents of that day - specifically the robbery of a theater that Dame Nelly Melba is singing at.
Powell is to meet Darnell for lunch, but takes her to the theater, and he witnesses the aftermath of the robbery. He then goes to the newspaper and presents the story, but the police (led by Edgar Kennedy) naturally are suspicious of Powell, and think he was in cahoots with the robbers. The end result is that both Powell and Darnell are under police suspicion "until they prove their innocence".
What follows in the film is the incredible complications regarding foretelling the future in a newspaper and maintaining a good reputation with your employer, the authorities, and the general public. Powell and Darnell are soon forced to reveal what they know of the future (real or fake) to the Police to avoid arrest. Powell is also forced to rely on the increasingly mysterious Philiber who is not showing up at work, and only shows up to present the newspaper of the next day (or read it) to Powell.
It is a very amusing film, reminding us again that Powell was a good comic actor when given good material. The crazy fight in the film's conclusion, based on his knowledge of what he believes is his fate, is excellent because he can take chances since he knows his current activities have nothing to do with what or where his fate is tied to. So are his actions that are driving Jack Oakie crazy, first in disturbing a pretty successful mentalist act (Sig Ruman is a representative of Barnum and Bailey trying to sign him up), and then apparently compromising Darnell's reputation, and then in going to the racetrack and winning four impossible horse race bets in a row.
Darnell is good too, giving support to Powell (although she can't believe in his crazy source of inside information), to the point that she too predicts an event for the benefit of the Police. Kennedy is in his element, slow burning as he can't figure out how Powell knows so much in advance and is not a criminal. And several side faces in the cast remind us of another Paramount comic genius active at that moment: Preston Sturgis. Jimmy Conlon, Robert Dudley, Kennedy, Darnell, and Powell all appeared in Sturgis films in their time. Here they show that Clare could also depend on their work.
In the series ONE STEP BEYOND, there was an episode about a newspaper reporter in Boston who predicted the Krackatoa Explosion in 1883 and then (possibly) McKinley's assassination in 1901. That episode treated this entire problem far more seriously, as the reporter involved never really recovered from the freak fame he momentarily got in 1883. But this film fantasy treats the matter more lightly, but still makes one really question the full value of the possibility of predicting the future. It also reminds one of Goethe's famous comment: "Be careful of what you want...you may get it!"
It seems that this is a much sought after and rarely diffused film - and it is now available on DVD. Picture quality not bad at all considering the time it was made and plot generally quite lighthearted if not unduly mystifying. I was expecting something a little more spicy with a bit of time-travel involved - but was not too disappointed in the end as the actors' performances are good and the subject matter is quite original. I would therefore recommend it to all who love comedy fantasiies but without going over the top about it .
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