MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW
MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937)
Based on The Years Are So Long (novel) by Josephine Lawrence,
and a dramatization by Helen and Nolan Leary.
Screenplay by Vina Delmar.
Producer and director - Leo McCarey
(who also appears in the film in three bit parts: passerby, man in overcoat, carpet sweeper)
Barkley Cooper: Victor Moore
Lucy Cooper: Beulah Bondi
Anita Cooper: Fay Bainter
George Cooper: Thomas Mitchell
Rhoda Cooper: Barbara Read
Harvey Chase: Porter Hall
Max Rubens: Maurice Moscovitch
Cora Payne: Elisabeth Risdon
Bill Payne: Ralph M. Remley
Richard Payne: George Offerman, Jr.
Jack Payne: Tommy Bupp
Mr. Henning: Gene Lockhart
Mamie: Louise Beavers
[information from American Movies Reference Book: The Sound Era
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
Leo McCarey read the
book and saw a picture
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
"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
"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
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 McCarey smashed...."
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)....
[T]he 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 th emost persuasive documents about an old couple since the
late Ring Lardner wrote Golden Honeymoon.
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
that may be counted upon to bid for a place among the 'ten best'
"Based upon Josephine Lawrence's novel, 'The Years Are So Long,' ... the
film considers, and courageously does not attempt to solve, the
familar 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...."
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