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Looking Forward

Looking Forward(1933)

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Remind Me

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Beset with severe financial problems brought on by the Depression, London department store owner Gabriel Service bows to the pressure of his two partners and fires many of his employees, including Benton, a forty-year veteran of the accounting department. Although stunned, Benton meekly accepts his dismissal and Service's assessment that he lacks the necessary "push" to be useful to the store and tells his struggling family that his boss had no choice but to let him go. At the same time, Service confronts his daughter Caroline and her stepmother Isabel about their spending habits and tells them that the family fortune is quickly dwindling. When faced with Service's announcement that their large house will have to be sold to save the store, the adulterous Isabel coolly informs her husband that she will be seeking a divorce if he chooses his business over her comfort. While genuinely concerned about her father's well-being, Caroline refuses to accept his assessment of their finances and insists that they keep the house. The next day, Service and his partners discuss a buy-out offer, which has just been made by their main competitor, Stoner's, a store whose business ethics Service deplores. Although saddened by the thought of selling out to Stoner's, Service verbally accepts the offer and that night announces to Caroline that he is going to sacrifice the store to satisfy the family's needs. An apologetic Caroline, however, tells her father that Isabel has already left with another man. Then, while rumors of the Stoner buy-out circulate around London, Benton, who has started a small but successful pastry business with his wife and two children, worries about his former boss. In spite of his family's gentle ridicule, Benton takes some of his wife Lil's meat pastries to a cemetery near the Service store and patiently waits for Service to pass. Service, meanwhile, is confronted by Caroline and his son Michael, who has just returned from Europe, about the buy out. After Michael shows Service drawings of furniture that he had hoped to build and sell at the store, Caroline, who is in love with her father's secretary, insists that, with their combined dedication, the shop can be saved. Although moved by his children's unexpected loyalty, Service refuses to back out of the deal and leaves to sign Stoner's agreement papers. On the way, however, he meets Benton in the cemetery and listens as his former employee passionately describes the Depression as the World War I of the present and begs him to allow his children to fight for the store's future. After Benton convinces him not to sell out, Service returns to Michael and Caroline with the good news and agrees that the Bentons' delicious pastries should be sold in their store.