Tuesday, April 14, 2009


This little-known pre-Code melodrama, about the effects of family and finances on romance and ambition, works surprisingly well for most of its running time, until its rather sudden happy wrap-up. Charles Farrell and Marian Nixon (pictured) are a cute young couple who want to get married but have lots of obstacles in their way. Farrell, who is desperate for a raise at work, is something of a mama's boy and his mother (Josephine Hull) is a nagging shrew who refuses to agree to move in with the couple so they could marry and he wouldn't have to keep paying her rent. Nixon's mother (Minna Gombell) is a nagging shrew to her husband (William Collier Sr.), a sweet older guy whose insurance business is faltering. Gombell, who has always wanted a better life and a more ambitious husband, is having an affair with their boarder who, on the verge of a big business deal, embezzles money from his firm. Everyone here has frustrated dreams; the title comes from a song that Farrell and Nixon sing to each other about being happy "after tomorrow comes." Eventually, Farrell's better job comes through and they plan their wedding, but the day before, Gombell leaves town with the boarder and her already ill husband has a heart attack. The young couple uses the money they'd saved for the wedding for Collier's doctor bills. Six months later, with Hull still a whining albatross around Farrell's neck, Gombell returns just as Collier is getting back on his feet, not to reconcile but to give him a thousand dollars to give to the couple. He's too proud to take it, but rather suddenly, a "deus ex machina" solution springs up out of nowhere, involving Hull and a character we've heard about but never seen, and the last shot shows Farrell and Nixon at Niagara Falls, married at last.

Because this was made before the Production Code restrictions, it feels a little more realistic than later films of its kind. Though Farrell and Nixon seem chaste, at one point we see them engage in a playful wrestling match that winds up with the two of them on the floor looking like theyr’re ready to move to the bedroom (until his mom enters). Later, Farrell proposes flat out a weekend "holiday" purely as a sexual outlet, though Nixon nips that in the bud. Gombell's affair is presented plainly and, in a development that would not be possible under the Code where her adulterous behavior would have to be punished, she winds up happy and satisfied. The best acting here is in the supporting roles, especially Gombell and Collier—Gombell has a great scene in which she snaps and tells Nixon that she was a mistake and was never wanted.. The lanky and handsome Farrell was never exactly a powerhouse; he's believable here as a nice but passive guy who lets everyone walk all over him, but isn't aware that's what he's doing. Hull only made five movies, but you'll recognize her as a dotty old lady from ARSENIC AND OLD LACE and HARVEY. There are several good lines of dialogue. When Gombell complains, "Anybody would think I'm just the cook around here," Collier replies, "Not after a couple of your meals, dear." When someone confronts Hull about her constant bitching, she says, "A sharp tongue is the penalty of a keen brain." Today, this material would be more suited for a TV sitcom, but it's kind of refreshing to see this more serious Depression-era portrayal of how the pressures of money and family wear down a young couple. [DVD]

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