Tag Archives: Leo McCarey

XL Popcorn – Make Way For Tomorrow

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 574/1007
Title: Make Way For Tomorrow
Director: Leo McCarey
Year: 1937
Country: USA

Back when I watched Jeanne Dielman I had the need to hug my mum and tell her how much I appreciated everything she did. Now that I have seen Make Way For Tomorrow… well I was emotionally winded for a while afterwards. Not even the bright colours and happy music of Super Mario Galaxy 2 was able to chase it away.

Make Way For Tomorrow is an interesting film to look back upon some 80 years since its release. Here we have an older couple (meant to be in their seventies, but Beulah Bondi was actually in her mid-40s!) who, due to the depression, have lost their house to the bank. So they turn to their five children for help… and end up being split apart for the first time in 50 years.

What unfolds over 90 minutes is a delicately told story about the older generation are made to step aside in order to “make way for tomorrow”. It is clear from the word go that of their children there is only one of them (Nell) who has the financial stability and the room to take them in… but she does not. For one thing her husband (that none of the family seem to like) downright refuses to let it happen, but you also feel that she would not want her life disrupted. So Lucy and Barkley are forced to separate, each living with a different child.

The mother goes to stay with the eldest son in New York and has to share the room with her teenage granddaughter. The father stays with one of the daughters who clearly just wants to be rid of him. As you can guess tensions begin to build and leads to an inevitable tear-jerking conclusion; heightened by 5 hours the older couple spend together where they are finally treated with kindness and respect.

The thing is, as you watch this film you can understand pretty much everyone’s motivation. This is what makes Make Way For Tomorrow  such an involving film. You understand Nell’s husband not wanting to have to make room for his in-laws. You understand the wife wanting to get rid of her mother-in-law as it has undermined her authority as a parent and led to her daughter get into trouble. Everyone in this film is just a believable human.

Without going into the specifics too much (because I do hate spoilers) it is the final half an hour that makes the film. One of the pinnacles really is when the children realise not only are they rotten and ungrateful, but also find out that their father is aware of their faults.

The ending of the film harkens back to a conversation that Louise has with her granddaughter Rhoda. Rhoda tells her grandmother to face the fact that her grandfather is too old now (being in his seventies) to get a new job and be able to stage a reunion. Louise in turn, hearbreakingly, asks Rhoda to let it go and let her keep pretending that it will all work out well. It’s a crushing moment and everything that follows this in the film is tinted by this sentiment.

Being part of the millennial generation means that I have had to rely on my mum for more than the children in this film will have. We see these children in their 30s-40s and it is pretty clear that they left as soon as they were able. Maybe this is why their actions of being so dismissive of helping their parents out really angered me. It’s not that I didn’t understand them, but sometimes you need to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

XL Popcorn – Le Samouraï / The Awful Truth

We appear to be in the home stretch here. The pain is not as it once was, but it still means I can not type for longer than a few minutes without my wrist hurting or my fingers from going numb. So the dictated reviews and a ridiculous posting schedule continues on.

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”Title: Le Samouraï
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Year: 1967
Country: France

The 1001 film book lists The Godson as the English title of this film. Now I don’t claim to understand why this was called The Samurai (other than the fake quote in the beginning), but as titles go it is so much more evocative of the spirit of the film so let’s just call it The Samurai.

If you wanted to find a French film about an assassin that is incredibly stylised then look no further. If you want a nice piece of French male eye candy then this film is definitely for you (it also has some really good looking French women, but I don’t care as much about that).

Alain Delon smolders as professional hitman and pet bird haver Jef Costello whose life starts to become complicated after a professional hit results in his arrest. We never know why he was hired to kill who he killed, but as the owner of a nightclub it is likely that this man had enemies. Then again that doesn’t matter.

What does matter is just how stylish this film is. Usually when I look at a film it is the performances of the actors that I tend to focus on, but not in this one. The most interesting thing about this film is the use of silence. It takes nearly 10 minutes for us to hear the first line of dialogue and by that point we have already got a good idea of what sort of man he is. Delon is far more powerful in his performance when he is saying nothing.

Also of note is how little colour there is in the film. Now, this is a very 1960s thing as a lot of the good looking fashion was black and white. However, the absence of colour in certain shots is very deliberate. For example, the bird that Jef has is grey and this matches the rest of his apartment. Similarly, the nightclub is all decked out in very 1960s looking black and white decor. The only colourful things you really see in this film is blood and the blue of the cars that he hijacks. The lack of colour is even found in the fashion with Jef, the piano player, the nightclub bar staff and his girlfriend(?) all donning the same palette.

The whole film feels like a 1960s attempt of bringing a 1930s gangster comic book to life. The atmosphere does have a passing resemblance to the world of Road to Perdition just without the son. This film is not that heavy in the kills as we would come to expect as it needs to maintain style throughout. Seeing how many directors list this film as a major influence this is a film to be bearing in mind when I watch future films centred around an assassin.

Title: The Awful Truth
Director: Leo McCarey
Year: 1937
Country: USA

I woke up this morning thinking that my wrist might actually be okay today… and then I make myself a bowl of cereal only to have it flare up again. My fault, obviously, as I fell up the stairs yesterday and landed awkwardly. Now is that for an awful truth!

The Awful Truth fills in that strange niche caused by the Hays code known as the remarriage comedy. There were so many of these in the 30s and 40s only to have them disappear almost entirely once content restrictions were relaxed. By their nature the remarriage comedy tend to be farcical and this film was no exception.

The reason that The Awful Truth is on the 1001 list is because it is one of the few remarriage comedies to win major Oscars (a best director win no less). Also, this was the first film to see Cary Grant in an his now famous comedy persona. This is the persona he would go on to wear in hits such as His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby and Arsenic and Old Lace. So this film is a little slice of film history.

You’re never going to have a marriage comedy with a sad ending. The whole point is that the divorced couple have to rediscover their love for each other and reconcile. As with most of these the reason that they split is fairly tenuous. If they would have just talked to each other normally… but that’s hardly the point now is it.

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are fantastic and in their role as the feuding couple. They also have an amazing dog. Seriously, that dog has more talent than most soap actors. There is a scene where they play a hiding game with the dog and he actually gets into a position where he is leaning on a chair and covering his eyes with his paws. I did not know you could train a dog to do that!

Another set piece of note is when Cary Grant’s character is dating a showgirl. He comes across his ex wife with her new fiancé and very revel in each other’s embarrassment. He gets embarrassed by the awful number sung by his showgirl girlfriend and is justifiably mocked. He, however, has the last laugh, in a rather well choreographed bad dancing number as performed by his ex wife.

The Awful Truth stands as a first for many things, not in the least being a screwball comedy that won a best Director Oscar. How often does it happen that the Director Oscar goes to a comedy, but the best picture is a biographical drama? This is the only time.

Progress: 562/1007