There's Always Tomorrow (Directors Suite) (1955)
Audio Commentary-Feature length by John Flaus and Adrian Martin.
Booklet-16 page with pics and essay by Dr Adrian Danks.
Interviews-Cast-So Many Years (22:36) : Prod. 2008 w P.Crowley & G. Perreau.
Featurette-Perspectives of An American Family (25:18): Allison Anders.
Theatrical Trailer-(2:36) Original without graphics. 1.33:1 and some damage.
Notes-Slick contains 500 words on life and films of Douglas Sirk.
Filmographies-Slick contans complete Hollywood Filmography for Sirk.
|Year Of Production||1955|
|Running Time||81:01 (Case: 84)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (64:51)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Douglas Sirk|
Ricard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, Frequently used to indicate tension and unrest.|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"I like this change you made in his head."
Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray) ironically inspects Rex the Robot
The latest welcome addition to Madman's string of director Douglas Sirk's 1950s films made at Universal is the 1955 drama There's Always Tomorrow. Almost totally misunderstood or dismissed back then as a soap opera, this modest film, running barely eighty-one minutes, is much more than "a woman's picture" - a deplorable term - aimed to round out a day's shopping "in town". There is in this film one of the truly tragic depictions of contemporary man trapped in a life which is slowly eroding every hope for joy and fulfilment. This is yet another classic from one of cinema's genuinely distinctive artists.
After the romantically scored, glossy but bland credits - nicely giving the three leads large lettered separate title cards - we read the legend "Once upon a time, in sunny California ..." and then dissolve into a rain drenched street outside Groves Toy Manufacturing Company. On the soundtrack is a childish jingling segment of the original score, which, upon dissolving into the factory itself, becomes a sombre "London Bridge is Falling Down". In the first few seconds we have been give two ironic statements, one visual and one aural. This is Sirk's warning. Don't expect this to be a romantic fairy tale with a happy ending.
The head of the toy company is Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray), and from our first glimpse of him we can see that he is a decent, modest man, liked and respected by his employees. Today is Cliff's wife's birthday, and he is surprising her with dining out and two "scarce as hen's teeth" tickets for a show. Arriving home, a bunch of flowers in his hand to surprise wife Marion (Joan Bennett), Cliff is virtually dismissed by his family. Oldest child Vinnie (William Reynolds) is on the phone and shushes his father when Cliff calls Marion's name. The daughters Ellen (Gigi Perreau), a phone addicted teenager, and the youngest Frankie (Judy Nugent), a budding prima-ballerina, are too self absorbed to give more than passing attention to their father. When Cliff breaks the news of the surprise "date" he has planned, Marion tells him she cannot go because it is the night of Frankie's ballet school recital. A deflated Clifford asks Ellen to go with him to the theatre, but she is discussing "emotional problems" with her girlfriends, and Vinnie has a date. Cliff offers his son both tickets, but handsome and assured Vinnie has better plans. Finally Cliff asks the family cook, Mrs Rogers (Jane Darwell), but he is again rebuffed. The rejected and dejected Cliff is left home alone, in an apron, eating his solitary meal when the doorbell rings. Still in his apron, Cliff opens the door, and a woman is standing there in the dark, turned away from the door. She turns to face him and walks into the light. Cliff doesn't recognize her at first, but this is a face from twenty years ago, Norma Vale (Barbara Stanwyck). Clifford and Norma were platonic friends in the past, at least as far as he was concerned. Norma has returned from New York, where she is a successful designer, on a brief business trip and the old friendship is soon rekindled. Cliff finally has found someone he can share his theatre tickets with.
At this point most audiences members would see where they are sure this tale is taking them. Cliff is resparked by the presence of Norma, although their relationship begins innocently and with Marion's apparent complicity. Refreshingly there is no stereotypical response from the wife. It is, however, the son, Vinnie, who becomes suspicious, actually spying repeatedly on his father in the family home. Vinnie's girlfriend, Ann (Pat Crowley), condemns him for his childish suspicions, and finds some affinity with the mature and poised Norma when they are both invited to the Groves' home for dinner. What ensues is a strong melodrama avoiding anticipated clichés and delivering sharp and bitter criticism of the "family values" of America fifty or so years ago. With an economical and neatly structured screenplay by Bernard C. Shoenfeld (Macao), based on a story by Ursula Parrott (Love Affair), we become totally absorbed in the late-flowering relationship between Clifford and Norma. Clifford is made crystal clear as a character, a perfect combination of writing , direction and acting, while Norma remains a person whose motivations are ambiguous, in a movie containing many ambiguities, not the least of which is the title itself.
Previously filmed in 1934 with Frank Morgan, Binnie Barnes and Lois Wilson, this new version reunited Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray eleven years after their sensational teaming in Double Indemnity, and once again both are excellent. Stanwyck is the external force, returning to the town and exposing the mundane existence for what it is - if not to the characters involved, then to the film's audience. She never becomes a symbol, but is always a vibrant involved character, even when all is erupting around her, as in that dinner scene, where she remains the calm, contained catalyst impacting upon these people's lives. Beginning her film career in 1927 Stanwyck was an enduring star and here she is mesmerising in every scene.Fred MacMurray is even better, the sensitivity of his performance truly astonishing. In films since 1934, MacMurray's basically affable screen persona was very strong, yet he could accommodate it to such a wide range of roles and emotions, from screwball comedies, to film noir anti-heroes, westerns, The Caine Mutiny, Disney comedies and even a couple of musicals also for Disney. This is a subtle, moving performance with no histrionics but huge emotional force. The third billed star, Joan Bennett, is lovely and effective in a role limited by the depth of the character itself. ( Does anyone else agree that Miss Bennett at times looks astonishingly like Vivien Leigh? )
Extremely strong support comes from Universal contract player William Reynolds, Sirk obviously pleased by his work in All That Heaven Allows, and Pat Crowley, the vivacious young actress from Paramount's Forever Female and Red Garters. Miss Crowley still pops up in the occasional TV series, and in the extras featurette So Many Years, fifty-three years later, looks just the same, just older. Gigi Perreau and Judy Nugent score well as the two Groves daughters, while dear old Jane Darwell (The Grapes of Wrath) has some quite telling moments, smiling benignly and approvingly as she unwittingly watches a man's life crumble. She and the three young actors playing the Groves children make the final moments of the film horrifyingly chilling.
Anyone who has read my earlier review of releases in this series, such as All I Desire, Stanwyck's prior Sirk film, All That Heaven Allows and The Tarnished Angels, won't want to read any more of my raving about the artistry of Douglas Sirk. Nevertheless, in the years that formed my love for and appreciation of movies, two directors stood out. These two were George Stevens and Douglas Sirk. After seeing a Sirk film I would have emotions and responses that I could not shake. When I would think back about the film what came to mind was not primarily plot, character or incident, but actual framed images from the film. The very look of the film was what made the biggest impact. Back then I did not know why, I just knew that Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman looked like human beings I had never seen before. Gradually I came to realise that this was the combined effect of the various contributions of colour, or black and white, lighting, camera angles, camera movement, editing and music. (The attractive original score here is by Herman Stein and Heinz Roenheld, but it is the music supervision of Joseph Gershenson that stands out, particularly his extensive use of the Rodgers and Hart classic Blue Moon.)
Here again Sirk delivers a subliminal lesson in film making, only once or twice being perhaps a little too obvious. Magnificently served by his Director of Photography, Russell Metty, this is eighty-one minutes of superlative film making. Give the added bonus of three outstanding extras - remember that dreadful commentary on All I Desire - and this is a DVD to proudly take its place in your Sirk library.
One final minor disappointment. I guess one must admire Madman for creating new artwork for these releases, but when the original poster was so great - on view in the extra featurette with director and fan Allison Anders - why bother? I know what I would prefer.
The video transfer of this movie is excellent.
The 16x9 enhanced transfer of the image is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which was the original theatrical ratio.
The transfer is extremely sharp and clear throughout, with the only exceptions being the occasional soft-focussed close-ups of the forty-eight year old Barbara Stanwyck.
Detail across the widescreen image is excellent, with admirable shadow detail in the many "dark" scenes. It is a joy to see the lighting design reproduced so beautifully.
There is no low level noise.
This is a very pleasing black and white image, with extensive grey scale. The blacks are deep and solid, and there is no trace of flaring on the whites.
Maybe I was too engrossed in the film - both times - but I did not detect any video artefacts.
There is quite substantial grain, but the overall effect is that of a very cinema-like experience.
There was a complete absence of any film artefacts, the print looking wonderfully clean and clear.
There are no subtitles.
This is a dual layer disc, with the change occurring at 64:51, in the lengthy blackout between chapters nine and ten.
The original mono soundtrack is in excellent condition.
There are two audio tracks, English and the commentary track. Both are in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono encoded at 224 Kbps.
The dialogue was clear and beautifully reproduced.
There was a total absence of hiss, or any background noise.
There was no crackle, pop or instance of dropout.
There was no problem with audio sync on either track.
The rather lush musical score, by Herman Stein and Heinz Roenheld, complements the drama on screen very nicely. It is, however Blue Moon, the standard by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, that will stay with you. This name of this great classic is featured in the dialogue and the melody reappears many times throughout the film, in just as many variations. I assume credit for this must go to the Musical Direction of Joseph Gershenson. All featured music is beautifully played by Universal's full orchestra and most satisfactorily reproduced.
|Surround Channel Use|
Happily Madman have done extremely well by There's Always Tomorrow, with a fine commentary track, a sixteen page illustrated essay booklet, the original theatrical trailer - minus graphics - and two excellent featurettes, both made in 2008.
|DVD||Onkyo-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||Philips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|