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Make Way for Tomorrow

It’s taken long enough, but one of the great American movies — hell, one of the great films from anywhere, anytime — has finally made it to home video in the US. Leo McCarey’s sublime “Make Way for Tomorrow” has been issued by Criterion in a transfer that strikes me as much superior to the recent French edition (and of, course, there are no hard subtitles) and the movie continues to play magnificently. My appreciation for McCarey’s work, with its subtleties of construction and minutely detailed performances (such as the moment, in the scene above, when Bondi self-consciously tugs up her lace collar when Moore tells her how young she still looks), grows every time I see this magnificent film — which I plan to do every day from now on (I wish). My New York Times review is here.

I’ve just discovered that Universal, in its infinite screwiness, has launched a burn-on-demand program through Amazon, where one of the dozen or titles available is McCarey’s brilliant Charles Laughton comedy “Ruggles of Red Gap.” It’s an odd group of films, ranging from Mitchell Leisen’s “Death Takes a Holiday” and Abe Polonski’s “Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here” to Daniel Petrie’s “Resurrection” and Norman Jewison’s “40 Pounds of Trouble.” Has anyone had any experience with these? This is a separate operation from Universal’s “Vault Collection” at TCM, which is being produced in-house by the Turner Classic Movies staff and so far consists of Leisen’s great “Remember the Night,” a handful of minor horror films (including Joseph H. Lewis’s entertainingly lunatic “Mad Doctor of Market Street”) and a selection of three early Cary Grant Paramount titles due out in the next week or two. I’m glad to see that the Universal logjam is showing signs of breaking up, but it all seems fairly random and chaotic.

307 comments to Make Way for Tomorrow

  • Kent Jones

    Jonah, I think you mean STRANGE INNERTUBE.

  • Jared Weigley

    On March 14th Arclight Theater here in Manhattan will be screening CONDUCTOR 1492, a feature length vehicle for silent comic Johnny Hines. Is anyone familiar with Hines? Arclight’s calender simply says that he made Harold Lloyd-style comedies in the 1920s and is unjustly overlooked today. The entry on Hines in Glenn Mitchell’s A-Z OF SILENT COMEDY is atypically brief: essentially all it says is that Hines made light comedies with Maurice Tourneur for World Film Corporation before moving on to the Educational studio. The Tourneur connection, of course, particularly piques my interest.

    Incidentally, Arclight screened a program of McCarey-helmed two-reelers on February 21st. The program included JEWISH PRUDENCE with Mac Davidson, THE STRING OF STINGS with Charley Chase, and DUCK SOUP (no, not that DUCK SOUP) with Stan Laurel.

    On an unrelated note, I caught Carl Foreman’s 1963 war movie THE VICTORS tonight as part of the Walter Reade Theater’s “Film Comment Selects” series. Thought it was effective in that it made war look extremely tedious. Not many combat films successfully capture the lurches from intense boredom to intense terror/euphoria that veterans often describe as the nature of war. Prostitution was a recurrent motif in the film, and its treatment was surprisingly frank for the time period. The standout scene of the film involved the execution of an American deserter in an endless expanse of snow while his fellow troops look on, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” playing on the soundtrack.

    This year’s edition of “Film Comment Selects” has been excellent. The only picture I’ve seen that I didn’t like at all was Patrice Chereau’s RETRIBUTION (and I say this as a huge fan of the director’s GABRIELLE). The best films I’ve seen so far (the series ends Thursday) would be Hirokazu Hore-eda’s AIR DOLL, Juliette Garcias’ BE GOOD, and, above all, Edward Yang’s A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY. The screening of the latter was sold out, which is very encouraging. Phillippe Grandrieux’s UN LAC I’m still processing. Up until the sequence where the sister begins to sing, first unaccompanied, then joined by piano, I literally felt ashamed to be in attendence. It was like watching a half-blind, severely brain damaged man in possession of no ability whatsoever to communicate with the world drool all over himself for minutes on end. Then the sister began to sing and my view of the film totally shifted. Suddenly, the picture seemed like a celebration of a new cognition, of a new way of communication. That Grandrieux was able to produce such violent, diametrically-opposed reactions in me says a lot about his skill as a director, but I’m still not altogether sure what else, if anything, his movie has to say.

  • Gregg Rickman

    Jared, Hines’ films are very entertaining, although the 2 or 3 that I’ve seen always seem to have the same plot. His films are closer to the Fairbanks vehicles of the teens like THE MATRIMANIAC than they are to Lloyd’s films, without the clever inventions of Emerson and Loos. Also unlike Lloyd, the films aren’t constructed out of series of brilliant gags, so the overall effect is more amusement than hard laughter. Hines was an agreeable, workingman character, breezy without the desperate neediness of Harold Lloyd’s character. Hines didnt seem to care if he was rich or poor, and in a couple of the films is broke and on the road, sharing food with his fellow tramps. His films, like Lloyd’s, conclude in a big rally or chase — which, as Hines is so obviously not worried, removes both any real suspence as well as the smack of emotional manipulation of the audience. Enjoy CONDUCTOR 1492!

  • Jared Weigley


    Hearty thanks as always for your generosity in sharing information and insight. I thought I’d at least heard of every silent comedian of note, but Johnny Hines was a name that was legitimately new to me. So even if CONDUCTOR 1492 proves only moderately amusing, it will still carry the excitement of a new discovery. On the Arclight Theater bill, the Hines picture is preceeded by WHOSE BABY ARE YOU?, a 1925 short starring Glenn Tryon and made under the auspices of Hal Roach. Apparently, Tryon was more of a leading man type than a comedian. Worth noting here is the fact that Tryon would go on to serve as associate producer of the great Olson and Johnson comedy HELLZAPOPPIN’.

    Hal Roach appears to have tried to turn everyone including the janitor into the new Harold Lloyd.

  • I read your review last Sunday and was such a pleasure to read to a grey winter day. Been reading you for years and I think that review was your best. So good I quoted you in my movie blog. “Tomorrow” is in my netflilx cue. I’m part of the ‘long wait’. Thanks.

  • Cliff Jones

    Where would I get a script copy for “Make Way For Tomorrow”?
    Thank you.

  • Darya

    I’ve been looking a script copy for “Make Way for Tomorrow” movie for a long time already. And I can’t find anth… Could somebody help me with it, please?