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(92 minutes)

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 (Prentice-Hall, 1969)]


Make Way stills, Newsweek 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 McCarey smashed...."

Time, May 17, 1937

Make Way stills, Time "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 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 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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