Saturday, February 27, 2010

Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937)

If most of McCarey’s features are as powerful as Make Way for Tomorrow, then no doubt he will soon be among my favorite directors. What I find so amazing about this film is how emerging from so much sadness and neglect is the complete resurgence of premarital romance and infatuation, a period in marriage that I have been told never happens for some couples. The paradoxical development of a new love bursting forth from the most tragic of situations is achieved in large part through McCarey’s insistence that the viewer be subject to every stray moment of embarrassment or intimacy; when the former occurs without the security of the latter, as when Lucy infringes on her daughter-in-law’s bridge classes, the viewer cringes, but come the finale there is a marriage between the two that makes the couple seem so pure, innocent, and childlike in their love for one another. The film’s depiction of New York as seen through the eyes of the newly enraptured old couple has more wonder and romance than even Woody Allen’s famous Gershwin montage, and the final shot all the dragged out devastation of that which closes Truffaut’s The 400 Blows or Ozu’s Late Spring.

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