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March 08, 2010


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Giles Edwards

I retract the earlier erroneous "minor" comment even further having watched the MoC disc *again* for the second time in a week or so. Wonderfully ruminative and exhaustively analytical essay regarding the spacial geography of the blocking (of which Sirk was such a master) in relation to familial psychology in the TOMORROW disc as well.

It does lack a bawdy THEY LIVE-esque fistfight that so memorably caps BIGGER THAH LIFE, though.


You are truly on a Douglas Sirk roll these days Glenn. And I must admit you've really piqued my curiosity, as I've only seen a couple of his films, and those were awhile back. I'm gonna go over to Netflix and put everything they have into my queue. Can you tell me: of what they DON'T have over there, what should I seek out?

C. Jerry Kutner

Cyril Hume not only wrote BIGGER THAN LIFE (with a little help from producer James Mason, among others) but also FORBIDDEN PLANET (with a little help from Shakespeare). Was he really as talented as those two films suggest?

The prototype of the middle-class-home-as-trap film, also featuring a staircase, might be Ophuls' great THE RECKLESS MOMENT.

Asher Steinberg

"What each artist shows is so acutely specific as to completely sidestep the standard facile suburb-critique."

Sure - although I don't know that I've ever seen any film from the 50s that one could label a facile suburb-critique (perhaps the bad ones are forgotten?) the way you can with Little Children, American Beauty, Rev. Road, Pleasantville, etc. That said, There's Always Tomorrow played for me like a pretty inferior rethink of The Reckless Moment. Compare, for example, the endings. They're the same story, really - Stanwyck leaves MacMurray to his spouse, Mason leaves Bennett to hers, the kids clasp their hands in joy that their parents' threatened marriages are safe - but Ophuls's is heartbreaking, while Sirk's is just snide. Everything in the Ophuls film is more nuanced, while in There's Always Tomorrow you have the Failed Marriage and the Evil Kids who prevent their Poor Henpecked Father from running off with his True Love. There's very little empathy on Sirk's part for the kids, whose reaction to their father's apparent infidelity, after all, isn't exactly ununderstandable. And the photography, while gorgeous, at times is a bit of a distraction (I feel the same way about a lot of James Wong Howe's work), and only adds to the morally overdetermined quality of the film. Even the beginning ("one day in Sunny California," reads the title card - cut to a rainy day in California) is much too cut-and-dry, and really not so far in spirit from a lot of the suburbphobic dreck we've been subjected to the last ten years. Same goes for the overt "Fred MacMurray is a broken robot" symbolism.

Glenn Kenny

As fond as I am of "The Reckless Moment," which I consider a sublime masterpiece, I'm rather disinclined to use it as a cudgel with which to beat "There's Always Tomorrow." Pace Asher Steinberg, but I think the two are very different films. It isn't just the thriller element of "Moment" that sets it apart; it's also the fact that it's a kind of dual redemption narrative. Bennett gets her marriage back, Mason saves his own soul. Bennett's character isn't so much dissatisfied with her marriage as she is with its circumstances. In "Tomorrow" no one is redeemed; it's a darker vision overall. Here, the viewers' sympathies are (deliberately) shaken up a good deal more; while one feels for MacMurray's character, one also, at the beginning, sees him rather petulantly in denial of his patriarchal duties, as it were. The reason Sirk doesn't show much empathy for the kids, is, frankly, because they're self-involved jerks who treat their father with abject indifference until the point when they suspect him of wrongdoing, as which point they pounce with even more petulance than MacMurray showed when he didn't get to take the wife out for their anniversary. It's true that both film's could bear the motto "No one is innocent," but that's hardly what you'd call an uncommon thematic statement.

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