Tomorrow is Forever review by Tom Blain
Lord bless Ted Turner. Did you ever think you would hear that? At most decent video stores I would probably be able to find Citizen Kane plus two or three VHS (forget DVD) off the following list: Third Man, Lady from Shanghai, Casino Royale, Touch of Evil, and Compulsion. These are probably some of Orson Welles most popular films. But there are plenty of other Welles films (check IMDB for proof) that havent been made on VHS or DVD, and there is only one channel among the thousands on Comcast that would show them: Turner Classic Movies. While there are reasons that many of these are not currently in production (either quality of film or lack of public interest), its nice to know that these films havent washed off shore and never to be seen by new audiences. Tomorrow is Forever is a perfect example of a movie I would have never seen if it were not for Turners network going after everything made in monochrome.
In Tomorrow is Forever John MacDonald (Orson Welles) and Elizabeth are married just long enough to get a start on creating a family before John shuffles off to fight in WWI. News is sent home that MacDonald is killed in battle on that last day of the war, but the truth is he was only badly injured. Doctors saved him and he didnt want to go back to face his wife as a cripple. So he assumed a new identity as Erik Kessler and along with that, a fancy new Austrian accent. Meanwhile back in the U.S. his wife moves on and marries businessman Larry Hamilton (George Brent).
About 20 years later with WWII kicking into high gear, Erik Kessler decides to come back to his hometown, with adopted daughter Margaret (played by THE Natalie Wood at the ripe ole age of 8 in her first credited role). Ironically he starts working as a scientist for, guess who, Larry Hamiltons company. It doesnt take long for Kessler to see his ex-wife a.k.a. Hamiltons wife again and to discover the son he never knew. Kessler, of course, recognizes her but due to the plastic surgery and beard she does not recognize him. Nevertheless, he does not tell Elizabeth his former identity and keeps up the appearance of the foreign stranger. The two families become very close and history slowly repeats itself as young John aka Drew decides to join the WWII effort with the same fervor as his father had during WWI.
Tomorrow is Forever is not your run of the mill Orson Welles movie. At least in the 40s, it seems he stuck exclusively to noir flicks like Third Man and Ciitzen Kane or movies based off of classic literature like Jane Eyre and MacBeth. Tomorrow is Forever is more or less a sappy drama that isnt as thick as say Imitation of Life but still requires a spoon to digest. Its interesting seeing him in this type of role because he adds a lot to the movie even if it doesnt add a lot to him. The young Wood is the one who really steals the show though. She is adorable, sure, but she speaks both English and German convincingly and displays a long range of emotions. There are a few awkward quick transitions that look unnatural but most of that seems like bad editing. Wood looks like a child actor ahead of her time; not like most one-dimensional child actors you usually see in movies from the 40s.
As far as dramas go, the story flies pretty low to the ground. Colbert deals with loss in the beginning but other than the potential of Drew going off to fight in the war and Kesslers hidden identity the plot points are pretty soft and low on punch. By the end of the movie I was beginning to wonder when ole Orson would drop the accent. Sadly it never happened, but Ill get over it. The last 10 minutes seem a bit unnatural and unnecessary but it does add to the syrup. All in all, the performances of the great actors pull this one up from the weeds into something slightly better, but I cant say its great. Tomorrow is Forever is not exactly the type of movie that I would add it to my library. Still, being a Welles fan in general I was happy to have seen another one of his performances.
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