Thursday, June 10, 2021

Tonight's Movie: It Happened Tomorrow (1944) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The charming Rene Clair fantasy IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944) has just been released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber and the Cohen Film Collection.

I first saw this United Artists release in 2009 and found it enchanting. I'm happy to say I enjoyed revisiting it just as much, if not more, than I did a dozen years ago.

Dick Powell plays Larry Stevens, who has a strange and memorable few days in the 1890s. He simultaneously meets the love of his life, Sylvia (Linda Darnell)...and receives early editions of newspapers which can predict the future. The results of these experiences are magical and just a bit scary.

As I wrote in 2009, director Clair (I MARRIED A WITCH) "creates a unique atmosphere suffused with romance, magic, comedy, and a few chills." The film's tonal range is well illustrated towards the end, when it careens from a riotous, mirthful chase scene to a closing moment of such tender sentiment that it makes my eyes water. The film's ability to successfully meld a range of styles reminds me somewhat of another rather unusual film, Frank Borzage's HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937).

Along with the direction, the film's success is owing in large part to the film's two leads. Powell was 39 and had left his musical days behind him; in the early '40s he appeared in a few comedies, including another classic, Preston Sturges' CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1940), on his way to his best-known work in film noir. He's wryly funny here, especially when he believes he may be doomed, and has excellent chemistry with Darnell.

Darnell was only 20 when she made this but matches Powell step for step, with a real flair for comedy. A close look at her credits, such as the films I mentioned in a past tribute to the actress, reveals a substantial list of seriously good movies, including some of the great films of American cinema.

Darnell has been perhaps underrated but seems to be increasingly receiving her due as a fine actress whose achievements began at a startlingly young age; she was only 16 when she starred with Tyrone Power in THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940). She was 22 when she appeared in John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946) and about 24 when she filmed what might be her best performance, in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949). A truly gifted young woman who was also one of cinema's great beauties.

The film's Oscar-nominated score by Robert Stolz also plays a role in creating the film's atmosphere. The movie was filmed in black and white by Eugen Schufftan and Archie Stout. A variety of collaborators contributed to the script and original source material, resulting in a just-right 85-minute movie.

The supporting cast includes Jack Oakie, John Philliber, Edgar Kennedy, George Chandler, Edward Brophy, Eilene Janssen, Patsy Nash, Sig Ruman, and Paul Guilfoyle.

This Kino Lorber release is a Cohen Film Collection restoration from a new 4K scan. A couple of the newsroom scenes seemed a bit washed out, but otherwise it's a lovely print with excellent sound. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Rick said...

Linda Darnell was only 15 when she played Tyrone Power's DAY-TIME WIFE in 1939. Possibly she turned 16 near the end of shooting, but her birthday was in October and the movie was released in November, so...probably not.

Of course, Betty Grable was an onscreen chorus girl at the age of 12. At the ancient age of 13 she was one of the Goldwyn Girls.

It was a different time.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Definitely a different time. I recall reading an anecdote that Linda found it embarrassing to be playing a love scene with Tyrone Power...and then be called off the set to complete her mandated school hours.

Another example is Joan Leslie who was 16 when SERGEANT YORK was released. She was 17 when she made YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) and turned 18 on the set of THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943). Playing mature roles opposite the likes of Cooper, Cagney, and Astaire at that age is amazing.

In the late '70s I slightly knew a couple people who got married between the ages of 15-17. It wasn't a common thing then, but that's an indicator of how different things were then than today, and I imagine that was even more pronounced in the '30s and '40s.

Best wishes,

12:49 PM  

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