Tuesday, June 24, 2014

There's Always Tomorrow (1956 film)

Based on the novel by Ursula Parrott, There’s Always Tomorrow is the story of a toy manufacturer who falls in love a former employee as he feels unloved by his wife and children. Directed by Douglas Sirk and screenplay by Bernard C. Schoenfeld, the film is an exploration into a married man’s decision to leave his family and embark into an affair with someone who cares about him. Starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, and Joan Bennett. There’s Always Tomorrow is an engrossing yet touching film from Douglas Sirk.

The film plays into the life of a toy manufacturer who deals with the neglect of his family where he meets an old employee as he spends time with her and starts to fall in love unaware that his teenage son believes that an affair is happening. It’s a film that doesn’t require much of plot but rather an exploration into a family man who wants to regain some joy in his life as he feels like whatever plans he has with his wife is pushed aside for their youngest daughter. The film’s screenplay showcases the sense of frustration and ungratefulness that Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray) endures from his family yet he would find some comfort in his old flame in Norma (Barbara Stanwyck) who had reinvented herself as a successful fashion designer. All Norma wants is to see how well Clifford has done and meet his family only to gain the disdain of his son Vinnie (William Reynolds) and teenage daughter Ellen (Gigi Perreau) who think the affair is happening though Vinnie’s girlfriend Ann (Pat Crowley) thinks that nothing is happening.

Douglas Sirk’s direction is quite simple yet contains some mesmerizing images and compositions into the way Sirk would frame some of the drama. Much of it involves some medium shots, a few wide shots, and some close-ups where Sirk plays into Clifford’s own sense of feeling unappreciated for what he’s done as his family seem to do other things. Sirk’s framing is very tight as he showcases the loneliness that surrounds Clifford while the scenes involving Clifford’s time with Norma are much livelier as the compositions are much looser though the scene where Norma eats with Clifford and her family is very tense. Especially as the drama starts to intensify in the third act when Vinnie and Ellen become very suspicious to the point that they would confront Norma.

Yet, it’s a very poignant scene where it is about not just Norma but Vinnie and Ellen in how they treat their father. What is more startling about the film other than its subject matter of adultery and the neglect of a family is how it ends where it’s very ambiguous which is pretty unusual for a melodrama made in the 1950s. Overall, Sirk crafts a very compelling story about a family man dealing with being neglected as he falls in love with an old flame.

Cinematographer Russell Metty does brilliant work with the film‘s black-and-white photography to convey the melancholic mood that surrounds Clifford while showcasing some unique lighting schemes to display the happiness he conveys when he‘s with Norma. Editor William Morgan does nice work with the editing as it‘s pretty straightforward with its seamless approach to rhythmic cuts to play into the melodrama as the editing also includes some dissolves and fade-outs. Production designer Alexander Golitzen and Eric Orbom, with set decorator Russell A. Gausman and Julia Heron, do amazing work with the look of the home Clifford lives with his family as well as the holiday resort he and Norma were at as they rekindle their friendship.

Costume designer Jay A. Morley Jr. does fantastic work with the design of the gowns from the dresses that Norma wears and creates to the more simpler dresses that Marion, Ellen, and Ann wears. The sound work of Leslie I. Carey and Joe Lapis is terrific for some of the scenes such as Clifford and Norma dancing to an old song as well as the sound effects of a toy robot that Clifford hopes to sell. The film’s music by Heinz Roemheld and Herman Stein is superb in its soaring yet somber orchestral score to play into the film‘s melodrama while music supervisor Joseph Gershenson brings in a soundtrack with some classical music and a standard that Clifford and Norma loved.

The film’s excellent cast features some notable small roles from Jane Darwell as the family cook Mrs. Rogers, Race Gentry as Vinnie’s friend Bob who also saw what Vinnie saw about his dad, Myrna Hansen as Bob’s girlfriend Ruth, and Judy Nugent as Clifford’s young daughter Frankie who is always calling on her mother unaware of her actions in causing her mother to neglect her husband. Pat Crowley is terrific as Vinnie’s girlfriend Ann who is troubled by Vinnie’s reaction to what he might’ve seen as she thinks that Norma isn’t a bad person while calling out on Vinnie’s immaturity. Gigi Perreau is wonderful as Clifford and Marion’s teenage daughter Ellen who is confused by the idea that her father is having an affair as she becomes lost in her confusion. William Reynolds is superb as Clifford and Marion’s son Vinnie as a late-teen who might’ve seen or heard as he becomes angry about his father’s supposed affair with Norma only to act in a very immature way.

Joan Bennett is brilliant as Clifford’s wife Marion as this woman who finds herself becoming busy with her youngest daughter as well as other duties as she unknowingly neglects her husband. Barbara Stanwyck is phenomenal as Norma as this old flame of Clifford who has reinvented herself as a successful fashion designer who wants to see what Clifford is up to as she also realizes she’s still in love with him while dealing with the realities of what their affair might cause. Finally, there’s Fred MacMurray in a marvelous performance as Clifford Grove as this very kind, loving man who feels unappreciated by his family for what he’s given them as he finds comfort in Norma where he tries to wrestle with his need to be happy and his devotion to his family.

There’s Always Tomorrow is a remarkable film from Douglas Sirk that is highlighted by the performances of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray. Not only is this an intriguing film about adultery but also what would drive a man to risk his own marriage and family life as he becomes neglected by the people he loves. In the end, There’s Always Tomorrow is a splendidly rich film from Douglas Sirk.

Douglas Sirk Films: (t Was een April) - (The Court Concert) - (To New Shores) - (La Habanera) - (Boefje) - (Hitler’s Madman) - (Summer Storm) - (A Scandal in Paris) - (Lured) - (Sleep My Love) - Shockproof - (Thunder on the Hill) - (No Room for the Groom) - (Has Anybody Seen My Gal?) - (Meet Me at the Fair) - (Take Me to Town) - (All I Desire) - (Taza, Son of Cochise) - Magnificent Obsession - (Sign of the Pagan) - (Captain Lightfoot) - All That Heaven Allows - (Never Say Goodbye) - Written on the Wind - (Battle Hymn) - (Interlude) - (The Tarnished Angels) - (A Time to Love and A Time to Die) - Imitation of Life (1959 film)

© thevoid99 2014


Anonymous said...

This came on TCM a little while back, and I contemplated watching it since I was wrapping up my personal awards for 1956, but the ratings were low so I skipped it. Now I wish I had seen it...

ruth said...

Oh so Stanwyck & Murray have done more than one film together, I didn't know that. I have Double Indemnity on my BlindSpot too, can't wait to see that.

I'm usually not into films about marital infidelity, but this one sounds intriguing and poignant.

thevoid99 said...

@Fisti-It wasn't well-received when it first came out but it is now considered one of Sirk's finest films and certainly far more intriguing than what it's premise suggested.

@ruth-Double Indemnity is a classic while this film is just as good. Stanwyck and MacMurray were just so spot-on in the scenes they had together. If they only made those 2 films. I wished they had done more together because they were fun to watch.

thevoid99 said...

@instadroid-You're welcome.