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USA 1956
Directed by
Douglas Sirk
84 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

There's Always Tomorrow

'Tis a pity that There's Always Tomorrow was shot in black and white rather than the lavish Technicolor o Sirk's better-known films such as Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Written on the Wind (1957), for this remake of Edward Sloman's 1934 film of the same name is an insightful critique of middle-class suburban values in post-war America.
Fred MacMurray plays Clifford Groves, a successful Pasadena toy manufacturer whose unremarkable suburban life with wife Marion (Joan Bennett) and three kids (William Reynolds, Gigi Perreau, and Judy Nugent) has found him somewhere between a rut and a life sentence.  It is turned upside down when former employee Norma Miller (Barbara Stanwyck) turns up from his past. Norma is now a successful fashion designer and given the evident flame that she has been nursing all these years, Cliff begins to wonder if he made the right decision when he opted for life in the 'burbs. His smug son, Vinny,suspects that his father is having an affair and sets about to remove Norma from the scene.

I haven’t seen the 1934 version but There’s Always Tomorrow, is a surprisingly effective portrait of a man in a mid-life crisis in particular and the doleurs of married life in general . Here Fred MacMurray, the epitome of genial suburban squareness who would achieve his greatest fame as a happy version of the role he plays here in the long-running 1960s TV series Father Knows Best, is perfectly cast, his characteristic willingness to please perfectly suiting his character’s hopelessly compliant personality. Barbara Stanwyck seems less appropriate to her role, her typically brittle self-possession so at-odds with her character’s romantic yearnings as to make one suspect that her Norma has some hidden malevolent agenda. Joan Bennett, on the other hand, is flawless in the much less demanding role of the “perfect” wife who has sublimated her libido in housework and parental duties. Everyone will hate William Reynolds as the smugly straight son who is determined to see his father fulfill his allotted role in life (Reynolds reprised the character the following year in Sirk's All That Heaven Allows).

Sadly, unlike Stanwyck's rebellious wife in Sirk's first foray into this territory, 1953’s All I Desire, Clifford doesn't get a happy ending which is a pity but it makes the film feel so much more adult (i.e. true to life). Although it really should have been in colour There’s Always Tomorrow deserves recognition as a well acted, incisive and empathetic portrait of love and marriage long after the horse has bolted.

FYI: Stanwyck and MacMurray made very different choices as stars of the classic film noir Double Idemnity (1944)




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