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With: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Joan Bennett, William Reynolds, Pat Crowley, Gigi Perreau, Jane Darwell, Race Gentry, Myrna Hansen, Judy Nugent
Written by: Bernard C. Schoenfeld, based on a story by Ursula Parrott
Directed by: Douglas Sirk
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 84
Date: 01/08/1956

There's Always Tomorrow (1955)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Cry, Robot

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Douglas Sirk worked with Barbara Stanwyck only twice, the first time in the rather ordinary All I Desire (1953). But two years later, he returned with There's Always Tomorrow and made a full-on masterpiece. What changed? Perhaps it was the use of a wider screen that inspired him to try riskier and more poetic compositions? Either way, this black-and-white movie is achingly vibrant and beautifully rendered.

Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray) is a toymaker and a father of three. Vinnie (William Reynolds) is the oldest, with a steady girlfriend, Ann (Pat Crowley). Ellen (Gigi Perreau) is the middle one, also a teen, and precocious little Frankie (Judy Nugent) is the youngest daughter. They have a cook, Mrs. Rogers (Jane Darwell, Oscar winner for The Grapes of Wrath). And lovely Joan Bennett is Clifford's wife Marion.

It's chaos whenever Clifford comes home, and he's largely ignored unless someone needs some money for something. Even plans to celebrate his wife's birthday fall through. Everyone leaves the house, and Clifford is alone with his thoughts until a knock comes at the door. It's Norma Vale (Stanwyck), who left Los Angeles to become a successful fashion designer in New York. She may have once loved Clifford, and may still love him.

The rest of the movie is a whirlwind of emotions as Clifford begins to feel stirrings, and his children realize there's something going on. Sirk frames nearly every shot gorgeously, with various objects and lines offsetting and separating the characters, upsetting the balance. A new toy robot becomes a symbolic theme in the movie, and in one scene, it dominates the foreground while Clifford and Norma try to figure things out in the background. (The cinematographer Russell Metty went on to shoot Orson Welles's Touch of Evil.)

One great line sums up the movie: "I'll raise my voice all I want! Everyone else around here is playing it to the hilt. Why shouldn't I?"

Kino Lorber released this essential film on a beautiful Blu-ray for 2020. It includes a commentary track by film historian Samm Deighan, and a batch of trailers, including several other Stanwyck titles.

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