Cast & Crew
In Pasadena, California, Clifford Groves runs a successful toy manufacturing business and goes home each night to his wife Marion and three children, Vinnie, Ellen and Frankie. On Marion's birthday, Cliff offers her an evening of dinner and theater, only to find that she is too busy with the children's schedule to take the night off. By dinnertime, Marion and the kids have rushed off to their various dates, leaving Cliff alone with a warmed-over meal. Just then, Norma Miller Vale, a former co-worker whom Cliff has not seen in twenty years, arrives to visit. Norma has grown into a stunning, cosmopolitan woman with a flourishing fashion design business, and a charmed Cliff invites her to share his theater tickets. After the theater, she asks to visit his office, where she admires his latest toy, a wind-up robot, and reminisces with him about the innocent dates they shared in the past. When Norma asks if he is happy now, Cliff hesitates a moment before saying yes. Upon returning home that night, Cliff tries to tell Marion about his night, but she is too tired to listen. The next weekend, Cliff cheerfully prepares for a weekend get-away with Marion, his first in years. Just before they are to leave for a resort in Palm Valley, California, however, Frankie twists her ankle and Marion insists on staying home with her. In response to Marion's proposal that he go alone, Cliff schedules a business meeting in Palm Valley and drives to the inn. There, just as he discovers that his meeting has been cancelled, he bumps into Norma, who is also on vacation for the weekend. They go horseback riding that day and dance all night, and soon Cliff feels so carefree and exhilarated that he convinces her to stay on an extra night. At dinner, Norma discusses her failed marriage, revealing that there has been no one in her life since the divorce. The next day, Vinnie, with his girl friend Ann and two other friends, drives to Palm Valley to see Cliff. They arrive and immediately catch sight of Cliff and Norma laughing intimately, and Vinnie suspects the worst. Although Ann warns him not to jump to conclusions, he insists that they leave at once, and at home, confides in Ellen about what he has seen. Even after Cliff comes home and immediately tells Marion all about Norma, the kids do not trust him, and cringe when he then invites Norma for dinner the following night. Before the dinner, Cliff picks Norma up at her apartment, and when her purse spills open, he sees an old photograph of him and realizes that she has feelings for him. At dinner, Vinnie abruptly leaves the table after Norma tells Ellen that love sometimes requires patience, and although Cliff is furious, Ellen also rudely refuses to talk to Norma. Ann rushes after Vinnie to tell him that he is acting like a suspicious child, but he turns away from her. Norma graciously leaves early, and later when Cliff tries to confront his children, they will not speak to him. Marion defends them, inciting Cliff to accuse her of coddling them. He then announces that he is tired of feeling like his wind-up robot and being taken for granted, but Marion remains unconcerned, pointing out that a life full of adventure would be exhausting. Later, she suggests that Norma is lonely and envies their home and family, and then falls asleep. Cliff sneaks out of the room, and Vinnie returns home just in time to hear his father urge Norma to meet him the following night. The next day, Marion and Ann visit Norma's bustling studio to try on clothes, and Ann struggles to find the right words to reveal Vinnie's qualms to Norma. Norma understands immediately and cancels her appointment with Cliff. Later, Ann breaks up with Vinnie because of his immature behavior, after which Vinnie watches through the window as his father comes home, grows increasingly restless, and rushes out the door again. Cliff interrupts Norma's business meeting to confess his love, explaining that he knows she feels the same way. She kisses him but then dissolves in tears, and asks him to give her a day to think. The next night, Norma hears a knock, and believing it is Cliff, joyously opens her door, only to find Vinnie and Ellen. When they accuse her of having an affair with Cliff, she charges them with having neglected him for years, until he was forced to look outside his family for love. Softening, she tells Ellen that young love can be reckless, but a mature lover cares more for her beloved than for herself. Ellen tearfully begs Norma not to take her father away, and soon after, Norma goes to Cliff's office to tell him they cannot be together. He tries to argue with her, but she paints an image of a future in which he cannot bear to be cut out of his children's lives and longs to talk to Marion again, and reminds him of what a wonderful life he has to lose. She cries and races off, and although Cliff tries to follow, she disappears into the rain. Soon after, Vinnie reveals to Ann that she was right all along and he has finally learned how to love and expect nothing in return. He goes home just as Cliff arrives, and Vinnie and Ellen note Cliff's solemn gaze as he turns his face to the window and watches a plane flying overhead. Although the kids remain busy and distracted, they smile when Marion checks to see if Cliff is feeling better, and he takes her arm and tells her no one knows him as well as she does.
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
Joseph E. Kenny
William M. Morgan
Jay A. Morley Jr.
Bernard C. Schoenfeld
Joan St. Oegger
There's Always Tomorrow
And then we meet Clifford. He runs a thriving Southern California toy company, treating his employees fairly and with respect -- he's the prototypical decent guy, the kind of "good man" any woman would feel lucky to find. But when he goes home at night, his wife, Marion (Joan Bennett), barely has time for him, she's so caught up in the lives of their three children - they rule the household with their petty needs and demands. It's her birthday, and he's purchased tickets to a show, hoping the two of them might spend a rare evening alone together. But she waves him away -- their younger daughter has an all-important dance recital that night - and so Clifford retreats to the kitchen, where he sits alone, eating a meal the maid has prepared for him.
The doorbell rings: Enter Barbara Stanwyck's Norma Vale, one of Clifford's former employees. She's now a successful clothing designer in New York, but she's come to California on business. She remembers Clifford fondly - perhaps more than fondly - and just wants to say hello. Clifford is energized by this bright, vital woman who, unlike his wife, clearly takes an interest in him. The unhappy husband - like the unhappy wife in so many other melodramas -- begins to wonder: Might this new person bring him happiness?
Plenty of films noir and '50s westerns examine the pressures and insecurities suffered by men in postwar America. But There's Always Tomorrow used melodrama to explore that experience. Sirk apparently recognized that it wasn't just women who worked hard to keep the families of 1950s America secure and well-fed. The German-born director, who had fled his home country for the United States in the late 1930s, was enough of an outsider to see this particular problem clearly. There's Always Tomorrow was based on a novel written by Ursula Parrott; an earlier film version, from 1934, starred Frank Morgan and Binnie Barnes. But Sirk, with the help of his superb cinematographer Russell Metty, adapted the problems of the lead character to the current times. The picture bears many of Sirk's stylistic trademarks, including shots framed through stair banisters or slatted partitions, to reinforce the idea that the characters are prisoners of the lives they've created for themselves.
But there's more to There's Always Tomorrow than those easily recognizable Sirk visuals. The picture is emotionally rich and ultimately devastating; melodrama, when done right as it is here, is anything but heavy-handed. And yet Sirk himself seems to have underestimated the film. In Sirk on Sirk,> he told Jon Halliday that MacMurray's character "...is like a naïve American boy who never grows up. And then Stanwyck comes back from his past. But she doesn't find a grown man. She leaves." But as Christopher Sharrett points out in an essay on There's Always Tomorrow in Cineaste magazine, "Sirk must have misremembered the film, since his précis hardly speaks to its central themes, which, together with his usual craftsmanship, makes it one of his greatest, most fully-realized accomplishments. It has little to do with infantile regression-unless we look at the portrayal of children and the family. It is more accurately termed Sirk's most biting portrayal of suburban family life in the Fifties."
Sharrett is right in his assessment of the movie's subtler qualities. Fortunately, in another interview, with Michael Stern, Sirk expanded on his reading of the film: "I think [There's Always Tomorrow] is a very sad picture because here is the American man dominated not by his wife so much as by the rules of society. She is as miserable as he, only she doesn't even know it! He can't escape. He can't make up his mind. He is the American man remaining a child. He is a producer of toys; still playing with toys. Then, his youth comes back. Knocks right on his door. And at the end, of course, he walks to the window and there is the plane flying away. It is his youth, his happiness."
It's telling that Clifford's one chance at happiness should be played by Barbara Stanwyck. Stanwyck and MacMurray were one of cinema's inspired pairings, complementing each other perfectly in Double Indemnity (1944) and Remember the Night (1940), as well as There's Always Tomorrow. Here, Stanwyck's matter-of-factness as a businesswoman is balanced by her clear affection for her former boss; she even has romantic feelings for him, though she's not sure that she should act upon them. MacMurray's Clifford, on the other hand, is more malleable: If Stanwyck's Norma were to initiate an affair, he'd go with it - he yearns for attention and affection, and she seems poised to give it to him. Still, he feels more comfortable fulfilling his duty as a good husband. He tries to tell his wife all about his platonic friendship with Norma, to make it clear he has nothing to hide. He's weaker than Norma is, but he's also more susceptible to heartbreak and disappointment, as the picture's ending - seemingly ambiguous but wrenching -- makes clear.
Sirk had actually planned another ending for There's Always Tomorrow: He wanted to show one of the toys manufactured by Clifford's company, a mechanical robot, walking toward the camera until it falls off a table. "The camera pans down, whoom! And there's the robot, on the floor, spinning, rmmm, rhmm, rhhmm ... rhhmmm, slowly spinning to a halt," Sirk explained to Stern. "The End. That is complete hopelessness. This toy is all the poor man has invented in his life. It is a symbol of himself, an automaton, broken." The ending Sirk ultimately chose is more subtle, and better for it. But it's a melodramatic conclusion, not a tragic one, and Sirk understood the difference - even as he understood how to satisfy an audience. As he said to Stern, "In tragedy the life always ends. By being dead, the hero is at the same time rescued from life's troubles. In melodrama, he lives on - in an unhappy happy end."
By Stephanie Zacharek
SOURCES: Interview with Douglas Sirk, Bright Lights Film Journal, 1977 (http://brightlightsfilm.com/48/sirkinterview.php)
Christophe Sharrett, Douglas Sirk's There's Always Tomorrow, Cineaste (http://www.cineaste.com/articles/douglas-sirks-emtheres-always-tomorrowem-web-eclusive)
There's Always Tomorrow
There's Always Tomorrow - Douglas Sirk's THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW is Featured in The Barbara Stanwyck Collection on DVD
Sirk was genuinely masterful at exploring the dark currents flowing underneath seemingly tranquil 1950s domesticity, and as such he is one of the most important directors of American film during that decade. He captured real and disturbing truths of American society, conformity, and family life, and he did so by using an accumulated expertise of filmmaking. The German-born craftsman had directed more than 35 pictures by 1956, in Germany and Hollywood (he arrived there in 1941), and his eye for sets, décor, camera movement, lighting and editing are perfectly in tune to the larger ideas and themes he is attempting to impart. As a result, a film like There's Always Tomorrow becomes not just a fascinating time capsule thematically but a marvel of filmmaking technique that can and should still be studied by filmmakers today.
There's Always Tomorrow also gives us a chance to experience Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray together again, a pleasure in itself. The pair had already co-starred in three other, very different films: the romance Remember the Night (1940), the film noir Double Indemnity (1944), and the 3-D western The Moonlighter (1953). Their well-oiled professionalism and obvious ease together have a lot to do with making There's Always Tomorrow so profoundly affecting and believable.
The breathtaking first 30 minutes of the picture depict MacMurray living an apparently comfortable life, with a wife, two kids, and a job running a successful toy-manufacturing company. The nice house, comfortable middle-class existence and attractive family lend a sense of security, but practically right off the bat Sirk also reveals it all to be a source of loneliness and anxiety. For instance, MacMurray's office is dark, dreary, static -- with none of the brightness or color one would expect at a toy company. His wife (Joan Bennett) doesn't pay him much attention anymore, instead taking him for granted and getting caught up in the unimportant minutiae of daily existence. MacMurray's life, at best, is routine and dull; at worst, it's a chilling, soulless prison hidden by a façade of social respectability and suburban comfort.
Into this world comes Barbara Stanwyck, a woman who used to work for MacMurray and was romantically involved with him. She is now a divorced fashion designer from New York. MacMurray's joy in seeing her again leads to a pleasing reconnection, and eventually old passions flare up and MacMurray starts thinking about trading in his current life for a new chance with Stanwyck. But the kids figure out something is going on, and melodramatics ensue.
Interestingly, however, the story does not turn into the kind of predictable triangle one might expect. The emphasis is not on the wife, Bennett, finding out what's going on and then confronting her husband and so forth; rather, it's squarely on MacMurray's despair and unhappiness. His Clifford Groves is cursed with self-awareness. If only he could be like millions of other suffering husbands who don't know they are suffering, he might be able to fool himself into feeling happy, the film seems to suggest. But he senses his emotional and psychological entrapment, and when Stanwyck reenters his life, he feels it even more because he can now glimpse a possible escape. The brief joy he feels with her becomes something vital, something strongly worth fighting for. The real ending of the film -- which can be seen just before the tacked-on epilogue forced upon Sirk by the studio -- is one of the bleakest and most chilling in 1950s American cinema. The film is Sirk's darkest in terms of lighting and overall look; it may well also be the darkest in terms of its themes.
In many ways There's Always Tomorrow is really a horror film. Marriage and domestic life are certainly treated as horror, and Sirk fills the movie with images of entrapment, furthering the idea of MacMurray being enclosed in a gilded cage. MacMurray's daughter, played by Gigi Perreau, has it right when she exclaims, "I'm never getting married!" Watching this film, who would want to? The kids, by the way, do a very good job especially when they confront Stanwyck, who delivers an amazing bit of acting in that scene herself, changing emotions with seemingly the greatest of ease.
The only flaw with Universal's disc of the film is that it is presented in a full-frame 1.33 aspect ratio rather than the 1.85 ratio in which it was composed. This indeed slightly distorts Sirk's intended compositions, but the film is still watchable; at least it's not as if an anamorphic film has been panned and scanned. Why Universal didn't present it in 1.85 is a puzzler, since apparently the film's European DVD was issued in the correct format. In any case, until a new version is released here, this one will suffice.
Also in The Barbara Stanwyck Collection is Internes Can't Take Money (1937), an excellent melodrama co-starring Joel McCrea as the screen's first Dr. Kildare (though it's not connected to the Kildare series that later followed), as well as an excellent Stanley Ridges as a weaselly gangster and Lloyd Nolan as a good-hearted one. This is a film of real style and 1930s texture and is highly recommended.
The Great Man's Lady (1942) again co-stars McCrea. He and Stanwyck are extremely appealing together and it's no surprise they teamed up six times on the big screen. Stanwyck puts her all into every scene here as she plays a 100-year-old woman reflecting on her life, which we see in flashback. It's an episodic, well-crafted western and piece of Americana that moves right along with more the feel of a Warner Bros. than a Paramount film.
Rounding out the collection are The Bride Wore Boots (1946), an inconsequential comedy co-starring Robert Cummings, The Lady Gambles (1948) with Robert Preston, and the aforementioned Douglas Sirk drama All I Desire.
It's wonderful that Universal is putting these kinds of rare Paramount productions out on DVD in the current climate of lean catalogue releases from any studio. Despite the aspect ratio problem on There's Always Tomorrow, The Barbara Stanwyck Collection doesn't disappoint.
For more information about There's Always Tomorrow, visit Universal Home Entertainment. To order There's Always Tomorrow (It is only available as part of The Barbara Stanwyck Collection), go to TCM Shopping.
by Jeremy Arnold
There's Always Tomorrow - Douglas Sirk's THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW is Featured in The Barbara Stanwyck Collection on DVD
There's Always Tomorrow was based on the Ursula Parrott novel of the same name, which Universal had previously adapted for the 1934 film There's Always Tomorrow, directed by Edward Sloman and starring Frank Morgan and Binnie Barnes (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). In 1941, according to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the studio had planned to produce another adaptation of the book with Erle Kenton as the director.
A September 1954 "Rambling Reporter" column in Hollywood Reporter reported that Melvyn Douglas and Robert Young were considered to play "Clifford Groves." According to an October 1954 Los Angeles Times piece, Universal originally planned to shoot much of the picture in San Francisco, but studio press materials indicate that the only scenes shot outside the studio were the "Palm Valley" sequences, which were filmed in the Apple Valley, in California's Mojave Desert.
Released in United States August 1997
Released in United States March 1980
Released in United States Winter February 1956
Shown at Locarno International Film Festival (50 Years of American Film) August 6-16, 1997.
Remake of "There's Always Tomorrow" directed by Edward Sloman in 1934.
Began shooting February 1955.
Completed shooting March 1955.
Released in United States Winter February 1956
Released in United States March 1980 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Special Programs) March 4-21, 1980.)
Released in United States August 1997 (Shown at Locarno International Film Festival (50 Years of American Film) August 6-16, 1997.)