Screen/Society--"Make Way for Tomorrow" (Leo McCarey, 1937) - Matinee Screening

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"Make Way for Tomorrow"
(Leo McCarey, 1937, 91 min, USA, English, B&W, DCP)

Orson Welles called it "the saddest movie ever made" and Ozu cited it as the primary inspiration for "Tokyo Story", but "Make Way for Tomorrow" is so much more than a sentimental tear-jerker. It is 1937, and the so-called Roosevelt Recession has set off a second wave of bankruptcies and foreclosures. An elderly couple (Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi) summon their adult children for one last visit before the bank takes away their home. After some discomfiting family debate, the couple is separated and sent to live uneasily among the middle-class strivers their offspring have become. McCarey's subtle and unshowy style works by inference and allusion. There are no clear-cut villains here, even when the children begin to plot a more uncharitable solution. But it's during the truly spellbinding arc of the final act, in which the couple is briefly united once more, stealing away precious moments of happiness, remembrance, and freedom, that McCarey's film enters territory Hollywood films rarely have: somewhere in the ballpark of mystic revelations and eternal truths.

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