53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
JONATHAN M. MCMILLAN
- Published on Amazon.com
With the Oscars 2 weeks away, let's look back 75 years and read what reviewers of its day wrote about a picture that went completely unrecognised by the Academy; and whose producer/director chastised its members from the podium for that ignorance when he accepted the best director statue for a comedy he made the same year, saying "Thanks, but you gave me this for the wrong picture." Can you imagine anyone having that kind of intestinal fortitude today; risking their careers with such a courageous gesture? Now that speech would have been the perfect special feature to include on this already wonderful release. (And just maybe, since MWFT wasn't nominated, but voter's still had the opportunity to cast their ballot for Mr. McCarey...maybe they actually did give it to him for this picture after all.)
VARIETY, Posted: Fri., Jan. 1, 1937
Rugged simplicity marks this Leo McCarey production [from a novel by Josephine Laurence and a play by Helen and Nolan Leary]. It is a tear-jerker, obviously grooved for femme fans. McCarey, who also directed, has firmly etched the dilemma in which an elderly married couple find themselves when they lose their old dwelling place and their five grown-up children are non-receptive. He keeps audience interest focused on old Lucy Cooper and Pa Cooper as they are separated, each finding themselves in the way and not fitting in with the two households (one with a son and the other with a daughter).
Victor Moore essays a serious role as Pa Cooper without firmly establishing himself in the new field. He continues to be more Victor Moore than an old grandfather, and he makes the biggest impression in the lighter, more whimsical moments. Beulah Bondi, as the aged Lucy is standout from the viewpoint of clever character work and make-up. She has some of the meaty scenes and makes them real.
Fay Bainter does splendidly as the wife of George Cooper, one of the sons to whose house the mother goes to live. Maurice Moscovitch, as the ardent listener to the old man's woes and who understands him better than his own children, contributes a neat portrayal.
NEW YORK TIMES, May 10, 1937
Leo McCarey's 'Make Way for Tomorrow'...has three qualities rarely encountered in the cinema: humanity, honesty and warmth. These precious attributes, nurtured and developed by the best script Vina Delmar has written, by Mr. McCarey's brilliant direction and by the superb performances of Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi and the rest, have produced an extraordinarily fine motion picture, one that may be counted upon to bid for a place among the 'ten best' of 1937..."
"Based upon Josephine Lawrence's novel, 'The Years Are So Long,'...the film considers, and courageously does not attempt to solve, the familiar but never commonplace problem of an old couple who, unable longer to support themselves, must depend upon the bounty of their children."...Bark and Lucy Cooper, whose home has been foreclosed...are compelled to call upon their five sons and daughters for aid. They had hoped to be kept together, preferably in a place of their own. But George and his wife have a daughter to put through college; Nellie's husband couldn't see that he ever had contracted to support his in-laws; Robert did not amount to much; Cora's husband barely provided for his own brood; Addie was out in California.
"So Bark and Lucy had to be separated for the first time in fifty years. She comes to New York to live with George and Anita, sharing their daughter's bedroom; Bark goes to Cora, 300 miles away. 'Don't you worry; everything will work out all right,' the children said. 'Well, it never has,' Bark replied. And, of course, it never does. The children are not intentionally cruel, nor are the old folk deliberately being nuisances. It is just that each stands in the other's way and there's nothing they can do about it...."
by Frank S. Nugent
(American journalist, film reviewer, script doctor, and screenwriter)
TIME, May 17, 1937
"The fact that a good story simply told is worth more than all the box office names, production numbers and expensive sets in Hollywood is one of those plain truths which the cinema industry finds hardest to assimilate...Taking a subject about which everyone has speculated -- the financial insecurity of old age -- the picture examines the case of Barkley Cooper (Victor Moore) and his wife Lucy (Beulah Bondi)...The story is presented with rare cinematic honesty. It is acted by Victor Moore, in his first serious cinema role, and seasoned Beulah Bondi with that effortless perfection which because it can come only from long experience, all younger actors lack. The result is one of the most persuasive documents about an old couple since the late Ring Lardner wrote Golden Honeymoon.
NEWSWEEK, May 22, 1939
"As household editor of the Newark (N.J.) Sunday Call, Josephine Lawrence conducts a question and answer column. The two most insistent problems she encounters in her mail are 'Must I support my father and mother?' and 'Why should my children turn their backs on me now that I'm old?'
"Around these questions she wrote a novel, 'The Years Are So Long,'...A Paramount producer-director named Leo McCarey read the book and saw a picture in it.
That was contradiction No. 1: a bitter, tragic story picked for the films. Contradiction No. 2 was the fact that the picker was McCarey, who once turned out slapstick stuff for Hal Roach...and was nominated by Charles Laughton as 'the greatest comic mind now living.'
"Contradictions No. 3, 4, and 5: McCarey wanted no box-office names in the cast; he didn't want to spend the United States Mint to make the picture; if Paramount would let him film the story, he would tear up his contract and work at reduced salary.
"That last gesture was Hollywood's acid test of faith, something more impressive than enthusiasm...Script was entrusted to the Eugene Delmars, who under the name of Vina Delmar wrote 'Bad Girl,' [and] 'Loose Ladies'...Production of Make Way for Tomorrow began and ended with few of the Hollywood 'wise guys' any the wiser.
"The 250 Hollywood correspondents and fan-magazine writers avoided McCarey's set. Their logic was irrefutable: if Paramount didn't think enough of the picture to give it major players, then it was nothing for them to write home about. They realized their mistake after the Hollywood preview...
"Make Way for Tomorrow' is undoubtedly one of the finest films to come out of Hollywood in years. The fact that critics were quick to label it as such may encourage other producers to tread on the fragments of the rules that Leo
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Dennis A. Amith
- Published on Amazon.com
In the 1930's, both Leo McCarey and Frank Capra are held to the highest regard.
Legendary American film critic Andrew Sarris wrote of McCarey, "McCarey represents a principle of improvisation in the history of the American film. Noted less for his rigorous direction than for his relaxed digressions, McCarey has distilled a unique blend of farce and sentimentality in his best efforts." (The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929-1968, Andrew Sarris)
For many classic cinema fans, McCarey was known for his directorial efforts in silent films for Hal Roach's Little Rascals, Charley Chase's silent shorts to directing many popular hits for Laurel and Hardy and also the Marx Brothers.
As McCarey is known for classic films such as his Academy Award winning films "The Awful Truth" (1937) and "Going My Way" (1944) in 1937, McCarey received recognition for his film "Make Way for Tomorrow" (1937).
Unfortunately, due to America was still suffering the sting of the Depression, American cinema faced major challenges in attracting people to the box office and despite receiving critical praise, the film was a box office failure. But since its theatrical release in 1937, the film has been considered one of the greatest American films of all time and a film that would inspire screenwriter Kogo Noda in writing the 1953 film "Tokyo Story" directed by Yasujiro Ozu.
McCarey believed that "Make Way for Tomorrow" was his finest film created and in his Academy Award acceptance speech for Best Director for "The Awful Truth", McCarey said, "Thanks, but you gave it to me for the wrong picture.".
"Make Way for Tomorrow - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505' is presented in 1:33:1 black and white. For a film released in 1937, the picture quality of this film is very well done. There is a fine layer of grain and scratches are quite light. Blacks and grays show a very good contrast and for the most part, the film looks very good on DVD.
According to the Criterion Collection, the picture has been slightly windowboxed to ensure that the maximum image is visible on all monitors. This new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm fine-grain master positive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS ssytem and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.
"Make Way for Tomorrow - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505' is presented in Dolby Digital monaural. Dialogue is clear but I have to admit that at times, there was certain dialogue spoken by Victor Cooper I couldn't tell what he was saying (more because of the way he was saying the dialogue), I had to rewind and turn on the English subtitles to find out what was said. But that is more about me having difficulty understanding the dialogue clearly.
According to the Criterion Collection, the monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical soundtrack print. Clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation.
Subtitles are in English SDH.
"Make Way for Tomorrow - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505" comes with the following special features:
* Tomorrow, Yesterday and Today - (19:53) A new video interview featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of Leo McCarey and "Make Way for Tomorrow".
* Gary Giddins - (20:09) New video interview with critic Gary Giddins in which he talks about McCarey's artistry and the political and social context of the film
"Make Way for Tomorrow - THE CRITERION COLLECTION #505" comes with a 30-page booklet booklet featuring new essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood's 1998 piece "Leo McCarey and `Family Values".
"Make Way for Tomorrow" is an excellent Leo McCarey film that will always resonate strongly with me.
From the magnificent and heartbreaking performance by Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi, to the well-planned camera shots showing the emotions of the characters and most of all, the pacing of the film and not showing that one person is to blame but it's a part of life that families need to deal with.
The issue of aging parents have been featured in quite a few films in the past but it was McCarey's that really struck a chord with the audience and because of the film's nature, released during a time of the Great Depression, Americans were just not in the mood to deal with a realistic and heavy issue, no matter how critically acclaimed the film was. It's the type of film that many people just don't want to deal with until that time comes.
And that was in 1937, flashforward 73-years-later to 2010 and its still a major issue today.
But the film tries to make the viewer sympathetic. Granted, you would expect the children to be a little more understanding and helpful after all their parents did for them, raising them and you want to see that same type of respect from the children to their parents but realistically, not many people in America are like that. We look at George's family who has to take care of her mother and immediately, we know that things are not going to work out.
When George's wife Anita tries to teach Bridge to her students who are wearing tuxedos and nice dresses, all Lucy wants is companionship because her husband is not there and no one else in the family is willing to communicate with her. So, she does what is natural. She tries to sit and be quiet and watch them play, but her rocking chair makes too loud of a noise for the students to concentrate and embarrasses Anita. But possibly one of the most interesting and saddest scenes in the film is when Lucy receives a call from her husband and you can feel the sadness in her voice of being away from her husband and really missing him. And just that moment where the students can not play because they are entranced to her conversation with her husband, it was a sad scene of the film.
But what is probably the most difficult scene is to see both Lucy and Victor together, as they visit the city and reminisce of the locations they one shared when they were younger. These scenes are not just fun to watch but it's also very sad that knowing what will become of the two. During 1937, there was so social security, there was no government programs to assist the elderly and their children have their own lives and none of them have the extra room to take in both parents. Some of the children are willing to take one, others are not willing to do anything anymore knowing that having their parent in their house is a big responsibility.
And what is so sad is that parents have to go through so much in order to raise their children when they are young. But when it's reverse and the children have to take care of their parents, too many decide its not worth their stress and none are willing to take on that responsibility. And for both Lucy and Victor, they know that. They know it's an inconvenience and they know that what is going to happen next in their life, they know they may have to take on these challenges alone rather than together.
You can watch "Make Way for Tomorrow", watch the excellent performance by Bondi and Moore and just see the faces on both Lucy and Victor's face as they spend which may be their final day together as husband and wife. It's heartbreaking and it was very noble of director Leo McCarey of going through with this film despite the studio wanting him to change the ending.
I have seen many Leo McCarey films and none have resonated this strongly with me than "Make Way for Tomorrow" and I know people tend to misuse the word "masterpiece" when describing a film but the truth is "Make Way for Tomorrow" is a masterpiece filmed and released during the depression-era. As heartbreaking as Ozu's "Tokyo Story" or De Sica's "Umberto D." was in the '50s and "Bicycle Thieves" was in the late '40s, "Make Way for Tomorrow" was an American film during the Golden Era of Hollywood that really captured a storyline of family and aging parents successfully.
As for the DVD, the picture quality for this DVD release is very good and the two special features and the 30-page booklet were very good. Leo McCarey fans should be happy with this release as well as any Criterion Collection fan. It's definitely a worthy release worth checking out!
Overall, "Make Way for Tomorrow" is a magnificent film that will stand the test of time and will continue to be relevant for many generations to come. Definitely recommended!
NOTE: Masters of Cinema will be releasing a Blu-ray release of this film in late 2010.