A Metro Cast Faces Depression Woes in Looking Forward (1933)
Old men (LionelBarrymore, Lewis Stone) making a
last stand against Old Man Depression. There's a forward that boosts Roosevelt,
despite a story set in England (he had a same-title book out, so there was connection).
Content is harsh as to reality of lay-offs and bankruptcy --- maybe that's why
based. Direction by Clarence Brown is his customary fine. There's an elevator
ride-up that opens to multiple floors with no cuts. Did John Farrow talk with
Brown before doing the same trick in The Big Clock? I'm still stumped as to how
they managed it. Barrymore was recently off an Academy win, but plays his
milquetoast low-key. Stone is the shop owner, shop as in department store that
employs hundreds, with conscience enough to put jobs ahead of profit a sell-off to corporate interests
would give him. You expect tycoons to come offunsympathetic in darkest days
of the Crash, but not so here. A leveler is Stone's trouble at home,
grown children spoiled and second wife Benita Hume off with a gigolo.
Capitalist offspring tend to be no damn good in early 30's rise-and-fall sagas,
though Looking Forward refreshes with a twist on that device for a third act. "We
need the courage of the young" is quoted from FDR, and there's dialogue to
effect that it was youth that pulled the country through WWI, and now they must
rescue us again. There was flailing about for solutions in 1933, that year
perhaps Depression's nadir. Homilies helped (Be Not Afraid) when backed by
writing and performances this good; quarters spent to see Looking Forward might
have bought real encouragement for 1933 patronage.