As we get into the holiday season, let’s get started with the melodrama Tomorrow Is Forever starring Claudette Colbert, Orson Welles and George Brent.
It’s the end of the first World War, and Elizabeth MacDonald (Claudette Colbert) is looking forward to the return of her husband John Andrew MacDonald (Orson Welles). However, she receives a telegram stating that he has been killed in action. Pregnant with his baby and grieving, she is helped by her boss, Larry Hamilton (George Brent), and they get married. However, John is alive, but in very bad shape in an Austrian hospital, and although the doctors can help him, he decides to let Elizabeth continue to believe him dead. Fast forward to 1939, and Elizabeth and Larry are still happily married, with her now grown-up son Drew Hamilton (Richard Long) contemplating joining the Canadian RAF to help fight in the coming war, much to his mother’s dismay. Larry has also recently hired celebrated Austrian chemist Erik Kessler (John MacDonald’s new name), who has emigrated with his adopted daughter Margaret (Natalie Wood). While Erik recognizes Elizabeth still, she doesn’t quite recognize him the first few times they meet. She is more concerned with the thought of losing her son Drew, much the same way she lost her first husband. While she starts to believe she recognizes Erik as John, he denies it while also trying to repair the rift between mother and son (especially since Drew doesn’t know he has a father other than Larry).
Admittedly, this is probably not a movie that can really be classified as a Christmas movie. Most of the connection to the holiday is in an early scene when Elizabeth is coming home with a Christmas tree, only to find the telegram that told her of her husband’s death. While the movie comes around to that time of year again, it is mainly to emphasize December 20, which was Elizabeth’s wedding anniversary with John MacDonald. Otherwise, there is no connection to the Christmas holiday. Still, it’s a good movie to watch any time of the year, whether for Christmas or not.
As I have mentioned previously, I’m not generally fond of melodramas, but this is one I very much enjoyed! More than anything, the cast is what makes this movie work. As Elizabeth, Claudette Colbert does a great job of portraying a woman who has kept herself busy in motherhood and everything else, delaying the possibility of closure in the “death” of her first husband, until her only son from that first marriage is now trying to go off to war. Natalie Wood does very well in one of her earliest roles. For me, personally, I have nothing but praise for Orson Welles in this movie. While I have seen the classic Citizen Kane, I found I completely disliked the movie and Orson Welles himself, and thus I have otherwise avoided a lot of the other movies that he did. This one I like, especially once he becomes Erik Kessler, helping him to express so much, all the while walking (and moving) like the cripple the character had become after the war. For me, there’s not a sour note in any of the performances in this movie, and I very much would recommend it to anybody interested!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Classicflix in yet another one of their stellar transfers. As usual, that made it an easy film to try out (and having actress Claudette Colbert in it didn’t hurt, either), and it is a release I would heartily recommend!
Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Orson Welles – The Lady From Shanghai (1948)
Natalie Wood – The Bride Wore Boots (1946)
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