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Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Look-In To Darkest Times


A Metro Cast Faces Depression Woes in Looking Forward (1933)

Old men (Lionel Barrymore, 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 it's UK 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 off unsympathetic 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.

3 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Good movie. Interesting how Lionel seemed to play either quietly humble or to the back row. You should check out "Guilty Hands" if you haven't seen it. Not only another excellent performance, but there's one brief shot where he looks exactly like his brother John. Pretty eerie, since they otherwise look quite different.

3:25 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

The film couldn't have been too pro-FDR, having been produced by William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan Productions (named for his magazine).

12:35 PM  
Blogger Mark A. Vieira said...

The elevator shot was made in a Los Angeles department store; possibly the May Company or the Broadway, but not Bullocks.

6:08 AM  

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