There's Always Tomorrow (Directors Suite) (1955)

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Released 9-Jul-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama 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.
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1955
Running Time 81:01 (Case: 84)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Douglas Sirk
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Barbara Stanwyck
Fred MacMurray
Joan Bennett
William Reynolds
Pat Crowley
Gigi Perreau
Jane Darwell
Race Gentry
Myrna Hansen
Judy Nugent
Paul Smith
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Heinz Roemheld
Herman Stein
Ricard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, Frequently used to indicate tension and unrest.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

 "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 MutinyDisney 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 ReynoldsSirk 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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    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.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    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.
 

    

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

   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.

Menu

    The Main Menu is presented over a modest graphic with head cut-outs of the stars, combined with a rather muddy full-motion insert. The main romantic theme is heard.
    The options presented are :  Play Feature
                                               Scene Selections : One screen with twelve chapters, no thumbnails, animation or sound.
                                               Extras : See below for details :
                                                             Audio Commentary
                                                             Featurette : So Many Years 
                                                             Featurette : Perspectives of the American Family
                                                             Original Theatrical Trailer                                                             -

                                               Set-Up:  This bare and basic screen also offers the audio commentary, with the facility to turn "ON" or "OFF".
   

Audio Commentary :
 This commentary runs for the full length of the movie and is made by John Flaus, founder of the cult Melbourne radio programme Film Buff's Forecast, and Adrian Martin, Senior Research fellow, Film and Television Studies, Monash University and Co-editor of Rouge. This is one of Madman's best commentaries. Though the two gentlemen are rather lacklustre commentators, they have great knowledge of the film and great affection for it as well. Most of the time is spent discussing the technique of the film, and an appreciation of the two principal actors. There is the occasional pause to tie what has been said to what is at that moment on screen, which is far better than constant babble ignoring the image. Nothing may be added to your knowledge, but this is a generally satisfying tribute to a sadly ignored film. Nicely done.


Featurette : So Many Years (22:36)
Fantastic ! This is exactly what a film such as this deserves. Remember that brilliant and unexpected interview with a "now" William Reynolds on Madman's All That Heaven Allows? This time we have a well edited combination of two 2008  interviews - sans interviewer - one with Pat Crowley and the other with Gigi Perreau, two of the actual stars of the film. Gigi Perreau is barely recognizable. Looks great, but the matron here is half a century removed from the adolescent seen in the film. Pat Crowley, on the other hand, is instantly Pat Crowley. Just as slim, pert and vivacious as she was over fifty years ago. This featurette was filmed, edited, written and directed by Robert Fischer and is a Munich / Paris co-production. Strange how so much appreciation of US cinema comes from Europe rather than from the US itself. Both ladies offer their recollections of the film, Sirk and Stanwyck with charm and apparent candour, with Gigi Perreau obviously still having some resentment of interference by "star" Stanwyck. This is wonderful stuff to have. Interviews are presented in brilliant quality 1.78:1, with clips from film 1.85:1, all 16x9 enhanced. The audio is MPEG 2.0 encoded at 224 Kbps.


Featurette : Perspectives on the American Family (25:18)
Almost as good! From Robert Fischer's creative energy again, director/fan Allison Anders (Grace of my Heart) generously shares her huge appreciation of this film. Again presented in a mix of 1.78 for the excellent quality new footage and 1.85:1 for excerpts from film, with all 16x9 enhanced, and with MPEG 2.0 audio. Ms Anders makes this a very personal tribute to the film and by the time you have immersed yourself in all this lavish praise you'll want to watch the film again - instantly!


Original Theatrical Trailer (2:36)
Presented 1.33:1 in a 4x3 transfer this is an interesting trailer which I suspect sold the film more as a "soapy" than a drama, but it is difficult to tell as there are no graphics apart from the title. I'm sure "the other woman" would have been splashed across the screen, as it was on the original poster. The quality is nowhere near that of the feature, with some slight damage and an overall murky look to all scenes. Still interesting to see.


Essay / Booklet : The Far Side of Paradise : Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow
This very nicely produced sixteen page booklet contains an informed, intelligent and accurate dissertation on Sirk's film. The article has been written by Adrian Banks, head of Cinema Studies at the School of Applied Communication, RMIT University, and co-curator of the Melbourne Cinematheque. Phew! The pages are enhanced by seven images from the film, and there's a shot of Rex the Robot on the cover, which is a nice touch.


Inside of Slick :
Here we have a duplication of the information on previous releases in the series. There are  five hundred words on Sirk, plus a Hollywood Filmography listing Sirk's twenty-nine Hollywood films, from Hitler's Madman (1942) through to Imitation of Life (1958).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There is no current release of this title in either Region 1 or Region 2.
    There was a German Region 2 release entitled Douglas Sirk Collection, which contained All I Desire, There's Always Tomorrow  and Interlude with June Allyson and Rossano Brazzi. This is now only available from Amazon Marketplace for approximately AU$150.
    It would seem that even more praise should go to Madman for this local release.
    

Summary

    Of all the titles in this series, this is the one I did not know and in which I had the least interest. Yet another misjudgement of this remarkable film! Stanwyck is perfection, and MacMurray is towering in his sensitivity and complexity. A great director making yet another unforgettable film as he creates indelible characters while through his art he subtly criticises the society in which his characters have to exist. A top set of extras and a beautiful widescreen transfer. This is one of my top releases of the year to date.
    

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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