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Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) HD online

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Comedy / Drama / Romance
Original Title: Make Way for Tomorrow
Director: Leo McCarey
Writers: Viña Delmar,Josephine Lawrence
Released: 1937
Duration: 1h 31min
Video type: Movie
At a family reunion, the Cooper clan find that their parents' home is being foreclosed. "Temporarily," Ma moves in with son George's family, Pa with daughter Cora. But the parents are like sand in the gears of their middle-aged children's well regulated households. Can the old folks take matters into their own hands?
Complete credited cast:
Beulah Bondi Beulah Bondi - Lucy Cooper
Victor Moore Victor Moore - Barkley Cooper
Fay Bainter Fay Bainter - Anita Cooper
Thomas Mitchell Thomas Mitchell - George Cooper
Porter Hall Porter Hall - Harvey Chase
Barbara Read Barbara Read - Rhoda Cooper
Maurice Moscovitch Maurice Moscovitch - Max Rubens
Elisabeth Risdon Elisabeth Risdon - Cora Payne
Minna Gombell Minna Gombell - Nellie Chase
Ray Mayer Ray Mayer - Robert Cooper
Ralph Remley Ralph Remley - Bill Payne
Louise Beavers Louise Beavers - Mamie
Louis Jean Heydt Louis Jean Heydt - Doctor
Gene Morgan Gene Morgan - Carlton Gorman

When Leo McCarey received his 1938 Best Director Oscar for The Awful Truth (1937), he reportedly said that he got it for the wrong film, a clear reference to his fondness for this film.

Paramount boss Adolph Zukor reportedly pressured Leo McCarey to alter the film's downbeat ending, but the director resisted, and his contract with the studio was not renewed.

Orson Welles was quoted as saying that the film "would make a stone cry".

Beulah Bondi was actually one year younger than Elisabeth Risdon, who played her daughter Cora.

Though they play elderly parents who have been cast aside by their children, Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi were only 61 and 49, respectively, when this film was made.

Director Leo McCarey made this film after the death of his father.

John Ford, Frank Capra and Jean Renoir were big admirers of the film.

Leo McCarey was making The Milky Way (1936) with Harold Lloyd when he accidentally drank some contaminated milk and became so ill that he nearly died. This brush with mortality - and the recent death of his own father - made him want to make the film. McCarey in fact was so ill that he was unable to attend the funeral of his beloved father.

Leo McCarey spent almost a year making the film. He worked for a greatly reduced salary, refused to cast any stars and ignored Paramount chief Adolph Zukor's pleas for a happy ending.

The inspiration behind Yasujirô Ozu's most celebrated film, Tokijo apysaka (1953).

George Bernard Shaw wrote to Leo McCarey, expressing his admiration for the film.

French director Bertrand Tavernier's then wife, Colo Tavernier, was responsible for writing the French subtitles for its foreign release. She recalled that she found it extremely difficult to type up these subtitles as her eyes were full of tears.

The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.

Just before shooting began, The Hollywood Reporter noted that Fay Bainter replaced Aline MacMahon.

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It was released on DVD 12 May 2015 in multiple formats as part of the Criterion Collection.

When he moved to Columbia, Leo McCarey found himself often at loggerheads with its notoriously difficult head, Harry Cohn. Whenever he went over budget or fell behind schedule on The Awful Truth (1937), Cohn would remind him of the commercial failure of Make Way for Tomorrow (1937). When The Awful Truth (1937) was released to great acclaim and excellent box office, McCarey led Cohn to believe that he would renew his contract with Columbia. But the day before they had agreed to sign, McCarey took out an ad in Variety announcing that he had just signed with RKO, the studio where he made two of his biggest hits, Going My Way (1944) and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945).

The movie the grandmother and granddaughter go to see is Paramount's "Souls at Sea" (1937).

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.

Lucy Cooper's maiden name is Breckinridge.

Reviews: [25]

  • avatar


    ... Old rivers grow wider every day

    But old people just grow lonesome

    John Prine, "Hello in there".

    My favorite MacCarey drama,better ,IMHO,than his beloved works such as "Going my way" "the bells of St Mary's" "An Affair to remember".

    Its influence was important in Europa ,notably in France (René Allio's "La Vieille Dame Indigne" ) or in Italy (Luigi Comencini's "Buon Natale,Buon anno;Vittorio de Sica's "Umberto D" ).

    Unforgettable scenes:

    The bridge game during which the old lady gets in the way.The sound of her rocking-chair,the phone call,the children ashamed of their mum,all rings true,all leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

    The letter ma sent to pa :"I cannot read anymore,you'll read the rest when your glasses are fixed " the old man's buddy says as the news become more and more depressing .One should notice here McCarey's skills;a tearjerker maker would have shown us through the home for aged people,but the sentences of the letter are much stronger than the pictures "This is a lovely place" the daughter-in-law keeps repeating.

    The last afternoon together ,the last hours which are all the more precious .The tenderness the director feels for his characters is infinite.Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi shine during this extraordinary romantic final: coming back to the chic hotel where they spent their honeymoon,they won't return to their selfish children's home for one last meal (what kind of beast could enjoy such a feast?).In the hotel,they dance and there's that magic moment : the conductor,realizing these old people cannot adapt themselves to the new jazzy rhythms ,asks his musicians to play "let me call you sweetheart".

    The ending is one of the saddest I know.Whereas Frank Capra would have probably gathered the whole family in the station,or have Thomas Mitchell arrive at the last minute when the train moves off,McCarey refuses any happy end.Hence the failure of the movie when it was released.

    Make way for tomorrow indeed! There are very revealing shots of New York with the skyscrapers and the cars which run faster and faster ,leaving the old by the wayside.And however these sacred lines had warned us before the tragedy began:" honor thy father and thy mother",written on an ominous sky.

    Waiting for someone to say

    Hello in there,

    Hello (J.P.)
  • avatar


    MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (Paramount, 1937), directed by Leo McCarey, ranks one of the very best and well scripted dramas from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and one worthy of recognition and/or rediscovery. No longer available on any local TV channel as it was in the 1970s, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW had frequent revivals on American Movie Classics, from June 20, 1994 until its final air date, April 3, 1999, and a Turner Classic Movies premiere September 6, 2010. Thus far, it's never been distributed on video cassette but DVD distribution did finally come many years later.

    Yes, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is sad, moving, but so very true to life dealing realistically about coping with old age. Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi (in possibly the best film role in her entire career) play an elderly couple who lose their home and find that their adult children are finding excuses NOT to take them in. A situation that even rings true even by today's society. Leo McCarey won an Academy Award as Best Director that year for the comedy THE AWFUL TRUTH (Columbia), starring Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. McCarey was reported to have said that he had won for the wrong movie, that it should should have won for this one. I agree. As much as THE AWFUL TRUTH is a fine movie in its own right, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is a far better production, dramatically anyway.

    In support here are Fay Bainter (in a rare unsympathetic role); Thomas Mitchell (the only one of the children to know how selfish he has been while the others refuse to realize it themselves), Porter Hall, Barbara Read (as the adolescent granddaughter) and Elisabeth Risdon. While MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW lacks star names, it consists of character actors in leading parts, which is just as good. Victor Moore, usually in comedic supporting parts or leads in program productions (better known as "B" movies), is fine in a rare dramatic role, but is overshadowed by Beulah Bondi, whose performance is excellent as well as tear inducing. Although she plays a woman possibly in her late 70s, she was actually 45 when the film was made. Sadly, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW did not receive a single Academy Award nomination. If a nomination was to be offered, it definitely would go to Bondi as Best Actress for such highlights as sitting sadly in her rocking chair as the radio plays the sentimental score of "I Adore You" as introduced in Paramount's own COLLEGE HOLIDAY (1936), along with her closing scene at the train station bidding husband Moore farewell to the underscoring of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart," scenes that remain in memory long after the movie is over.

    The plot might sound trite in print, but to see it is to appreciate the kind of movie that can never be remade in the same manner as the original nor come anywhere close to great motion picture making such as this one. (***1/2)
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    One of the few American movies to look seriously (and reasonably honestly) at old age, this 1937 melodrama won wonderful reviews, but apparently it was so sad that audiences couldn't bear to look at it. While McCarey was justly celebrated for his sensitive direction, let's start with the shrewd, shaded screenplay, where nobody's entirely good or bad: The children do mean well, but let selfishness intervene; the aged parents are victims, but they're also unavoidably inconvenient and occasionally annoying. It is, unfortunately, a timeless topic -- parents turning into dependent children, children turning into their parents' parents, and the government yammering ineffectually about the problem decade after decade.

    McCarey spins the tale out with subtle humor -- just a wink from Victor Moore, a visual aside by Beulah Bondi, says more than several lines of dialogue would. Plus, this is a couple whose passion has survived the years; they can't keep their hands off each other. The notion's a bit hard to swallow, perhaps a contrivance to tilt the viewer's sympathies more in their direction and away from the thoughtless middle-aged kids. But it does work dramatically and makes the last 20 minutes or so almost unbearably poignant. And the last shot, of Bondi, is unforgettable; it's up there with Garbo in "Queen Christina."
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    Make Way for Tomorrow is one of the most personal, heart-wrenching films every recorded on celluloid. Though it's story is utterly sad, nay, depressing, it is one of the most beautiful films ever made. It does not hold back and goes places the heart and mind would not like to wander of to.

    We find ourselves in the midst of the Great Depression. A time before social security was put into play. We are introduced to Barkley and Lucy Cooper (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi), an elderly couple who have just lost their home to the bank. They have known for several months, but saw no need to panic and tell their children just a few days before they are expected to move. The children are none too pleased that their parents are losing their house. More so because they will have to bare the burden of caring for them while they try and find a place of their own. With the unstable economy, it might be a while.

    Lucy stays with her son George (Thomas Mitchell) and his wife and child while Barkley stays with their daughter Cora, several hundred miles apart from Lucy. They both find life with their children to be a bit unbearable. They have their good days, but mostly they find themselves getting in the way and becoming a nuisance. George's wife and daughter complain of being constantly bothered and having to deal with Lucy. Meanwhile Barkley health starts to get worse and Cora reluctantly must look after him.

    The doctor says that Barkley must move to a warmer climate or else he could get worse. Lucy too finds that she is being shooed away by her own family. It is decided that Barkley must go to California with their other daughter but that only he can go because that is all their daughter can handle at the moment. Lucy and Barkley get together and spend the day with each other before he must head out west.

    Just thinking of this sweet couple and what they are going through is hard. After having spent 50 years together, living in the same house and raising five children, to suddenly have everything taken away and having to live far apart must be devastating. They endure and try to make the best, just like they have been doing their whole lives.

    One would think that the children, who were raised and cared for by their parents, would be sympathetic and a little less critical about the situation. It's hard to imagine that collectively their children can muster up the heart to care for their aging parents.

    McCarey, whose work primarily consisted of both physical and witty comedies, delivers a much darker and emotional whopper of a film. It doesn't hold back and delivers scene after scene a new piece of drama that just makes you want to reach out and help these people. His style is not the most technically advanced, but the story he delivers is second to none. One aspect of his film-making that I enjoyed were the longer shots of conversation and contemplation. It makes the actors work harder and gets a much more personal performance onto the screen.

    The acting is spot on. Both Moore and Bondi give fantastic performances, each playing their age perfectly. Somewhat forgetful yet always sincere and never mean. The children too, especially Mitchell, do a wonderful job in conveying their feelings about their situation. It's obvious that these aren't the greatest children in the world, but they are by no means the worst. Mitchell truly feels sorry for his parents, but he is also aware that he has a family that needs taking care of and their needs have been placed higher than his parents.

    The final scenes of this film are some of the most intense and moving ever. I mean ever. I have never been more surprised, delighted, and completely torn apart over what was unfolding before my eyes. It's an absolutely brilliant sequence of events, culminating to an end that only a master of his craft could orchestrate.
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    An elderly couple lose their home and their grown children don't want them around, so where can they turn? After a creaky start, this thoughtful film becomes absorbing and very touching. It thankfully never resorts to feel-good measures: the oldsters are not painted as saints (in fact, Beulah Bondi's "Ma" is realistically nagging and nosy) and their kids are completely selfish (which is entirely believable). The picture has one of the most haunting endings that I can recall, and it's even more powerful to consider how timely it all is (and how this situation still rears its ugly head today). An emotionally gripping, wistful, memorable movie. ***1/2 from ****
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    I cannot believe that this movie did not receive any Academy Awards! I give it "All T's", for touching, tender, terrific, and tearfully timeless!!! Why it continues to be overlooked and not made into a video behooves any Beulah Bondi fan and people like me that have had the privilege of catching it tucked away between 2am infomercials on other stations. Get it on the shelf in the video stores! I've been looking for it for years! Can you say, "Bitter batter baby buggy bumpers" to your spouse as lovingly as these two lovebirds did in that 1937 classic? Romeo, Juliet, Scarlett and Rhett can't hold a light to 'Pa' and 'Ma' Cooper!
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    Beulah Bondi gave her greatest performance as a mistreated elderly mother in this bittersweet, highly underrated Leo McCarey gem. Oscar should have noticed. (Actually, McCarey did win the Best Director Oscar that year, for the screwball comedy "The Awful Truth" - also written by Vena Delmar. In his acceptance speech, McCarey thanked the Academy, but said "you've given me this for the wrong film" - referring to "Make Way For Tomorrow.") Believe it or not, Bondi was only 48 at the time of filming, only four years older than the actors playing her children. A marvelous performance, and a lovely film
  • avatar


    It took me a while to get into this one. It's kind of awkward and uncomfortable, but it turns out that's largely the point. The story is about an elderly married couple (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi) who lose their house to the bank. None of their five children has enough room for both of them, so they end up breaking up, supposedly temporarily, to live in the homes of two of their children. Moore goes with his daughter (Minna Gombell) and Bondi goes with her son (Thomas Mitchell). Much of the movie focuses on Bondi living with her son's family (Fay Bainter is Mitchell's wife and Barbara Read his daughter). It's Hell for all of them. Bondi's old fashioned ways are annoying to the family. She herself feels out of place and confused, having lived with her husband for 50 years. Meanwhile, Moore is having just as awful a time at his daughter's place. The whole picture finds its way to one of the most satisfying and powerful final acts I've seen, where the old couple finally reunites. It's pretty much the first time in the film we see them spend a significant amount of time together, and these two people who seemed so awkward apart feel like a whole together. We see their love, we feel for what they've lost. It's absolutely gorgeous. The very end of the film is a killer. I've never quite seen a film like this (well, Tokyo Story is obviously in part based on this). On a rewatch, I think it may be a lot stronger, but I liked it a heck of a lot this time around.
  • avatar


    No big box office names grace Make Way For Tomorrow, but Leo McCarey put together a great ensemble cast in this story about old age and the consequences thereof in 1937 America. Though Social Security had just passed, no one would see any money from it until 1942 and health insurance was strictly for those who could afford it.

    But Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore who are in relatively good health all things considered are not entering the twilight years of a happy life together without some big problems. The family homestead as did many family homesteads during the Depression has been taken by the bank, forcing Victor and Beulah to look to their children for help.

    In those days that's exactly what used to happen. But none of their five children can take on both of them, they have no room. So Beulah goes to live with son Thomas Mitchell and his wife and daughter Fay Bainter and Barbara Read. Moore goes to live with daughter Elizabeth Risdon and husband Ralph Remley. In both households the parents are made to feel in the way and in some respects they were.

    It was the cruelest kind of punishment to separate two people who spent half a century together. But that's what happens to both. Before the end of the film, the two spend a day in New York reminiscing of lost youth and the good times therein.

    Moore and Bondi were around the same age as their 'children' and were made to look much older. Bondi made a specialty of playing much older than she was and in fact did live into her nineties. As for Moore though he was doing character roles now, he was a big comedy star on the Broadway stage going back to the ragtime era. His biggest role on Broadway was co-starring with Fay Templeton in George M. Cohan's 45 Minutes From Broadway.

    Especially in the last half hour Moore and Bondi will pull all the emotional restraints from your soul. They really do become an idealized version of parents and grandparents. Make Way For Tomorrow is heartstring touching movie and hasn't dated one bit.
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    I've also taped this movie off of TV (Thank you, Turner Classic Movies!) but would love to see it on DVD. The restraint with which this story is told is really quite impressive, but the ultimate result is devastating. As the arrangements with their adult children unravel, even a surprisingly pleasant and romantic day on the town for our elderly couple fails to give us any hope for a happy ending. The performances are uniformly fine, with lovely work done both vocally and with facial expressions; for instance, keep an eye out for Faye Bainter's last look at her mother-in-law. Bainter became one of my favorite character actors after I saw her work as a sympathetic daughter-in-law with troubles of her own.

    I'm not being nearly eloquent enough, so let me just say that if you ever get a chance to catch this film, watch it!
  • avatar


    I purchased the Criterion Collection DVD of this movie, intending to rip it out of its packaging and watch it straightaway. Instead, I let it reside on the shelf for several weeks, and only got around to watching it a few days ago.

    "Make Way for Tomorrow" has joined my very personal list of the greatest American movies. Its direction is so transparent, one might think it wasn't directed at all, but spontaneously happened in front of the camera. The acting is so unforced and natural, you might think you are watching your neighbors. Of course, such acting and direction are really difficult to achieve, so I wonder why I had not come across this masterpiece before.

    Orson Welles is reported to have said it could make a stone cry. He was right. When I watched this movie, I certainly cried for the first time in about five years, having been unable to do so before I saw this incredible film that validates cinema. (Why not cry before this? PTSD, father died, partner died, a car hit me resulting in major injuries.) Don't be put off by thoughts of downer subject matter; if you love life and love cinema, you owe it to yourself to see this great, great movie.
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    This is one of my favorite movies. I have watched it twice on the old movie channel, but would love to have my own copy. Ms Bondi's acting is wonderful and Mr. Moore has such a gallant attitude with her. I love the little poem she recites in the movie and would like to have someone give me its title if known. Every married couple should watch this movie. After my second viewing of this movie I researched Ms. Bondi on this site and was astonished how young she was at the time of the shooting of this film. I then went on to rent as many of her films as I could find. What an great talent she was. It saddens me to know that so many of these marvelous old films will be lost. If anyone can tell me where I can get a copy of this movie on tape or DVD please contact me. Thanks
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    I first heard of this film when reading Jonathan Rosenbaum's short take on Sarah Polley's "Away from Her"; that film was my favorite of this year (2007) so far, and Rosenbaum saying that it was "within hailing distance" of this Leo McCarey film meant I had to track this down. I'm glad I did; though the 5 Minutes to Live DVD was of fairly low quality, the essential genius of the film shows through: this is, as Rosenbaum and a few other perceptive critics have noted, one of the greatest films ever made about aging and the conflicts between the desires of children leading their own lives, and their responsibilities towards their own parents. Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore are the parents of five grown children, including Thomas Mitchell as the eldest, who have lost their home; the children grudgingly offer to take them in, but none is willing to take both parents. One of the amazingly simple points that the film makes in a beautifully understated manner is that the kids simply don't understand, or care about the importance of the parents' relationship with each other; they can only focus on the parent-child situation. All the performances are fine, but Bondi's is one for the ages; the scene where she receives a call from her husband, the mingled sorrow and joy in her voice as time stops around her, disrupting the bridge class that her daughter-in-law is conducting, is heartbreaking. The last 15 minutes or so, the couple reuniting for one last time, could so easily be schmaltzy or maudlin, but McCarey doesn't create heroes or villains, he doesn't offer easy outs or artificial obstacles, he just lets them be old people, disappointed and lost...
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    One of the greatest tear-jerkers of all time. The sad tale of how two parents lose their house and not one of their children will let their own parents live with them. I agree, Miss Bondi deserved to win the Oscar that year but what else can I say about that subject. If you ever get to see this film, bring along a box of tissues. Make that two.
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    Only three things need be said about this exquisite film. Orson Welles said it could make a stone cry. Jean Renoir said that it proved that McCarey was one of the few directors who really understood people. Finally, Robin Wood-gay Marxist atheist- praised it as one of the few good films about old people.( The only other ones I can think of are Scorsese's short documentary about his parents, and- strange to say- Lynch's forthcoming film about the old fellow who drove a John Deere tractor 275 miles to visit his dying brother.) Wood also praised its Marxist critique of the capitalist system. However, its not so much "Marxist' as it is rooted in the best traditions of Catholic socialism, traditions that, judging by some of his later films, McCarey may not have fully understood. P.S. I just thought of two other fairly good films about the aged-Wrestling Ernest Hemingway and The Whales of August.
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    Scoreboard Bleeding

    This is one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen. I had never heard of it until two or three years ago, when it popped up on Turner Classic Movies. The chemistry between Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore as the old couple is believable and touching. The film is sentimental without overdoing it. I think the best scene in the picture is the sequence of the bridge lesson in the home of one of the couple's daughters. SPOILERS AHEAD: The daughter has assembled a group of well dressed guests, who are seated at tables, watching her illustrate on a chalkboard how to play bridge. As she lectures, her old mother comes in, after spending the evening at the movies. She sits in her favorite chair and begins to regale the polite guests with the story of the movie she has seen. The daughter has a brittle smile, and the guests are clearly a bit uncomfortable, and then gradually, the old lady realizes she's interrupting the game ,and apologizes. Everything goes back to the bridge lesson, but then the phone rings and Ma takes a long distance call from Pa, loud enough that no one can help overhearing her every word.What begins as idle sounding chit chat becomes more and more serious and emotional, as the old woman urges her husband to remember to dress warmly and take good care of himself, and the love she has for her husband is so real, it's impossible for the viewer not to bust out crying The guests look moved, and perhaps a little ashamed for finding her a nuisance shortly before. This is one of the most powerful, tender scenes I have ever seen on film. The reactions of every person, from the old lady, to the daughter, to the bridge players, are all superbly registered and poignantly believable.This movie deserves to be seen by anyone who loves old movies and enjoys the kind of compassionate dramas Hollywood used to turn out in its golden age.
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    There is a misconception caused by President John Kennedy's administration that Americans have swallowed. He was the youngest man to be elected President, and he and his wife Jacqueline looked even younger than they were because they followed Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower as residents of the White House: sort of like the change each December 31/January 1st from the old man with the scythe representing the old year to the young cherub being born. In his inauguration he walked walked back from the Capitol Building and he had taken off his top hat while giving his inauguration speech. The speech itself ended with his classic peroration, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country!" Youth was also pushed in policy projects like the Peace Corps and in Kennedy's pushing physical fitness. Ironically his actual physical condition, despite his publicized touch football games and his boating trips, was quite bad. But the public never knew that, and as a result there is this widespread belief that after 1960 this country embraced a cult of youth.

    It's not true - earlier Presidents pushed active, healthy, youthful images. Theodore Roosevelt pushed "the vigorous life" and healthy exercise (he was actually the youngest man to become President, upon McKinley's assassination). Franklin Roosevelt's youthful good looks were part of his appeal against the seemingly heavy featured Herbert Hoover (Roosevelt's physical disability from polio was under-discussed by the press - it was a different era). Other youthful men were elected President before the two Roosevelts, such as Franklin Pierce and Grover Cleveland in their days. In the 1850s Pierce was pushed as representing vigorous "Young America" in his policies. In reality he represented bungling, but that is another story.

    The American people embraced youth like all people do - it is the time to accomplish your dreams while you have the power to do so. But while other peoples (the Chinese, for example) had a tradition of respecting the elderly - supposedly the Americans did not. How true this is is hard to say. But Leo McCarey's MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW is his comment on this national failing. It is a harsh look at the issue, and it doesn't mince words.

    Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi are "Pa" and "Ma" Cooper, the elderly heads of a family of four grown-up children. One day they call their children (and their spouses) home to tell them some news. It is the Depression, and Pa's pension ran out. When did this happen? About seven or eight months back - the fact is he is broke and they are about to lose their home.

    The news does not sit well with the children. The best of them, Thomas Mitchell (and his wife Fay Bainter) have a large apartment, but it is only large for them, and their daughter, and ONE parent. The other children are not keen on taking the other parent. The end result is that Minna Gombell and her husband (Porter Hall) begrudgingly take in Moore, while Mitchell and Bainter agree to take in Bondi.

    What we watch is the slow strangulation of an elderly couple. Even given the best of intentions by Mitchell and Bainter, Bondi finds herself seen as a specter at a feast, annoying her bratty granddaughter, and accidentally interfering with Bainter's bridge lessons (which are very useful for additional income in the Depression). Gombell and Hall barely tolerate the elderly, somewhat infirm Moore. The tragic thing is the old couple are kindly and sweet, and fully aware (without harpies like Gombell and Hall reminding them) of being burdensome in the current situation).

    The film ends with Moore having to move from New York City (where he and Bondi are still able to see each other every day) to the West Coast for his health (to the home of another child). The day he leaves he and Bondi decide to spend entirely alone - Moore even has a chance to telephone an insult to the ungrateful Gombell. They visit the hotel they went to half a century earlier for their honeymoon when they came to New York. They walk the old familiar streets passed spots they recall from the 1890s. They even get a chance to take a ride in a fancy limousine, due to the kindness of a salesman - a far kinder individual than most of their children. At the end, Moore is escorted to the train that will take him forever from her across country. She waves goodbye to him as the music swells with "Let Me Call You Sweetheart". The final shot is of a saddened, resigned Bondi walking away into personal loneliness and oblivion.

    It is one of the most heartbreaking movies ever filmed, and nothing McCarey did (not THE AWFUL TRUTH, LOVE AFFAIR, GOING MY WAY, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S, or AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER) are as good as this was. It's two leads did very well in their roles, Moore especially using his normal comedy persona as a pitiful figure of personal tragedy. Bondi is fragile and great up to that last moment. As her one loyal son Mitchell is first rate - he needs Bondi's reassurance that he was her favorite child when he tells her that she will have to move to another child's home. Bainter does a fine balancing act, trying to be a dutiful daughter - in - law, but finding her lifestyle threatened by this poor old woman. It is one of the high-points of the classic age of Hollywood sound films, and yet it is not as well known as it should be. Catch it next time it is playing on television, and then consider what your own old age will be like - or what you think it will be like. You may get frightened.
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    A couple has lived contentedly together for literally half a century. They suffer the loss of their house to a bank. Their five adult children are terribly unhappy to learn this, but one has moved to California and is seldom heard from and the others supposedly don't have room to accommodate both parents. It's resolved that mom and dad will settle with two separate children, "for now." Their last night in their home is the last time they'll sleep in the same bed together.

    It's not that their kids don't love them. They'll find them a place "as soon as possible," but for "a few weeks," Lucy Cooper will share her granddaughter's room, and her husband Barkley will sleep on a son's living room sofa. She's in NYC, he's in a small country town. Both somehow seem like the choices of environs should've been reversed. They speak on the phone. They write. As time lapses and they exhaust their receptions, Lucy learns that her son George and his wife Anita are entertaining relinquishing her to a nursing home, and it's resolved that Barkley will take the train to California to lodge with the unseen daughter. Oh, this is all "just for now."

    The movie is so harsh it might not be filmable nowadays. Leo McCarey first turned heads with hilarity and frivolity. In the same year as this unsung Depression-era piece du resistance, he made Grant and Dunne the ultimate, matchless rom-com duo in The Awful Truth. Make Way for Tomorrow is softly perceptive about the social discomfort of the circumstances. None of the children are heartless. But Anita holds bridge classes in her living room for around 20 students. When Lucy wanders in to sit in the rocking chair, it squeaks. The players are sidetracked. When she attempts conversation, she brings up hearts, which she played as opposed to bridge. When Bark calls, what the players hear is heartbreaking. If only she'd stay in "her" room, of which the self-interested daughter is protective. Anita and the daughter alternate schlepping a jumbo picture of Bark between the bedroom and living room. When your house has been "decorated," you don't want outdated portraits.

    At his son's posh residence, Bark catches a cold sleeping on that sofa. A doctor is summoned, and his daughter-in-law swiftly moves him into their bedroom so the doctor won't think they're cruel. He welcomes a visit from the one friend he's made, an old storekeeper whose response to the circumstances is impeccably encapsulated in an exchange of momentous gestures only the two old men can see. The elderly don't assimilate to the up-to-the-minute way of life. The error is in that way of life, but life wouldn't be life if it weren't indifferent. On TV, seniors are suntanned, golfing, having prepared for the future. It's easier to accept than that they fall ill, healthcare expenses evaporate their savings, and they wind up stashed in a "home." The opportune idols in those commercials aren't so camera-friendly after awhile.

    Regardless, the movie's evenhanded, as far as that counts. When Lucy disturbs the bridge class, Bondi doesn't make her sweet or special. She might irritate us, too. Naturally, we constantly relate to the kids, not their parents. In our culture, we believe it correct that kids go off on their own, and parents are finally liberated to indulge their hard-earned retirement. But after a life of full nests, how reassuring is an empty one, really? The magnificent closing sweep of Make Way for Tomorrow is exquisite and makes me cry like a little girl with a skinned knee. It's easy to picture it being doused in syrup by a studio exec, being made more optimistic for us weakling moviegoers. But what transpires is breathtaking and downright heartbreaking. All hinges on the performances. Bondi was not even 50 when she played Lucy. Victor Moore was just 61. In look, motion and dialogue, they're seamlessly persuasively elderly.

    Their kids coordinate for them to get together in the city before Bark boards for California, where they've "found a nice place for him." This is "only until they can get together again," naturally. These fabrications make it feasible for us to endure life. There's a family dinner arranged, but Bark and Lucy, as McCarey would put it, go their own way. What they do and how it makes us feel is a tour de force by all involved. It isn't manipulated for unearned gratification. It doesn't give us any relief. They're happy, but not deluded, not one bit.

    The final chapter of this synthesis of elegy and rhapsody rests on unrestrained empathy between filmmakers and characters. These two people have spent an entire life together, reared a family and lived in their own home. They've preserved a shared nobility and they're not about to become foolish now. How tenderly, and with what value, they treat one another. How some strangers, over-involved in their own dealings and indulges, notice this and momentarily see their own prospects. These strangers can be caring, transiently at least, though they too could have folks they don't have space for.

    What's so enormously hard-hitting about the film is its even-tempered stare. It serenely, almost neutrally, sees the predicaments and how they unravel without the slightest slant or bias. The most commanding films often just show us proceedings without directing our feelings toward a planned result. This is also the case with the best acting. It's extraordinary that a movie this real and unyielding was made by Hollywood in 1937.
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    An absolute gem of a film. Why didn't this receive numerous Oscar nominations? That's beyond me to fathom. While it wouldn't have beaten out The Life of Emile Zola for best picture, it certainly deserved to be among the nominated with usual comedian Victor Moore giving a gem of a performance assisted by the equally superb Beulah Bondi. Both play an elderly couple who lose their home and are separated due to their selfish children's refusal to take both of them in.

    It's if the parents had become a third wheel in their children's lives. Thomas Mitchell is also wonderful as the caring son who knows he is doing wrong, but must contend with wife Faye Bainter, whose kind smile masks a cold veneer ready to lash out at her mother-in-law Bondi.

    The time the old couple spend at the hotel they had wed 50 years before is priceless. At least, they find kindness there from the management.

    This film shall forever tug at your heart. Superb film making in every sense of the word. Truly a national treasure in the history of films.
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    In his wisdom - and/or cynicism - the Chief Programmer at the NFT elected to screen this stark tale of a couple marking fifty years of marriage by being evicted from first their own, secondly their children's home and doomed to spend the rest of their lives separated by 3,000 miles as a 'Seniors Matinée'. Nice one, Geoff. McCary is on record as citing this as his favorite of all his films and give that he shot The Awful Truth the same year that's quite a testament. In the land of 'there are only seven basic plots' this is McCarey's take on King Lear albeit a tad more subtle than, say, Broken Lance, which merely substituted a cattle baron for a King and three sons for three daughters. Here Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi have five children and far from dividing their kingdom between the kids they haven't got change of a match, indeed as the film opens they have, after fifty years together, just two days to leave their home before the bank forecloses. What we have, of course, is not one Lear but two and reluctantly two of their selfish kids, one son, one daughter, agree to take them in. It is, of course, only a matter of time, weeks rather than months, before the kids say enough already leaving Moore to be shipped to the fifth child, a third daughter, in California, and Bondi shunted into a Retirement Home. Okay, Shakespeare did it better but Vina Delmar (who also scripted The Awful Truth for McCary) is not all that far behind the Bard and is a dab hand at substituting visual poetry for the Shakespeare's exquisite blank verse. What makes it more memorable is the lack of high profile 'stars'. It's indisputable that Moore, Bondi, Thomas Mitchell, Fay Bainter and Porter Hall were in the first rank of 'character' and/or 'supporting' actors with faces if not names familiar to every film-goer in the 30s and 40s but the bulk of the 50 plus strong cast - Elisabeth Risdon, Minna Gombell, Louise Beavers, Louis Jean Heydt etc - registered as half-familiar faces rather than names yet all deliver fine performances. For 1937 this is exceptional 'rock the boat' filmmaking.
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    This might just be the most depressing film I have ever seen--with the exception of a few movies about the Holocaust. When the movie concluded, I felt DRAINED by a overwhelming sense of sadness, so I would NEVER recommend the movie to anyone who is already depressed or who has a history of suicide attempts! It's THAT sad! However, despite this, the movie is incredibly well-written and the acting is right on the mark. It's the story of a beautiful old couple who are forced apart by circumstances. Their loving relationship is SO touching--and that's what makes the movie so ultimately sad and difficult to watch. Director Leo McCarey was at his best and the usually supporting actors, Beulah Bondi and Victor Moore, prove they could act with the best of them. If you'd like a good cry or just want to see what wonderful films Hollywood was capable of in the 1930s, give this one a chance. A brilliantly made and honest film that somehow has gotten overlooked over the years.

    Simple, honest and effective.

    UPDATE: Apparently this very much overlooked film is not so overlooked any more, as it has been released by the Criterion Collection. I hope this will encourage folks to finally see this lovely film. Additionally, back in 2003, there was a Bollywood remake of this film ("Baghban") starring Amitabh Bachchan.
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    This movie was made in 1937 and though dated in some ways, some of the social conscience could be the same as today. Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi are wonderful as the old couple who have to leave their home because they are old and not able to keep their house up. Their children all have excuses as to why they can't stay with them. Also in the movie is Thomas Mitchel (Scarlett's father in Gone with the Wind) The story is heartbreaking, yet all too real and could even happen today. This is another great movie that should have made it at least to VHS. You can see it has high votes, so looks like lots of people liked it. Unfortunately, its very seldom on the TV. I'd even settle for it being on TV, but haven't seen it listed on TV for about 10 years. Too bad for those of us who would have enjoyed seeing it any time we liked if we had it on DVD or VHS.
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    Luckily I taped this years ago when it was on cable. Seeing Beulah Bondi (a great actress) and her film husband as an elderly couple is truly heartwarming. After they lose their home and are farmed out separately to their selfish children, they meet in the city for the day to be with each other. As they are looking in the window at the new car dealership and the salesman mistakes them for an older couple with money, and winds up taking them for a ride. I remember him driving them to a restaurant in a hotel and having drinks where they did over 50 years ago. The bartender tells the manager and they make it a special occasion for them. All I can say is that if this is released on VHS - I'm buying it.
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    Said to have inspired Tôkyô monogatari (1953) (with clear similarities between both stories), McCarey's simple story about an incredibly cute elderly couple forced to separate in dire circumstances is utterly heartbreaking. It is incredibly moving, perhaps because one can't help but reflect on their own life while watching it. The acting by the two leads is enchanting and those final 20 minutes are some of the most beautiful and heart-rending moments ever put to celluloid.

    I said heart twice in this review because this film had so much of it and it was evident in every frame. An overlooked minor gem of the early Golden Age and one that anyone who loves the power of movies should "Make Way for". Maybe today... maybe tomorrow... soon. Incredible.
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    I watched this movie yesterday for the second time and cried . What a great old movie. I told 2 people about and cried while I was telling them the story. Too bad they don't make more movies like this. My mother used to say a mother can take care of 10 children but when it comes time for one of them to take care of them no one will.