In the ‘developed world’, at least, we live in an era of increasing life expectancy and aging populations. Most societies aren’t set-up to deal with this, both in terms of care and healthcare provisions. We’re living in an increasingly globalised world which means that families are often scattered far and wide. Parents and children often leaving home in search of work and a better life. That means care for parents is increasingly outsourced but, as Make Way for Tomorrow attests, this is not entirely a new phenomenon.
Set during the Great Depression, when Barkley (Victor Moore) and Lucy Cooper (Beulah Bondi) lose their home because his inability to find work due to his age, they turn to their five children to help. However, they all have their own lives and concerns. While Nell (Minna Gombell) half-heartedly tries to convince her husband to take them both, (due to space) they’re temporarily split between two other children. Their presence causes frictions while they desperately miss each other.
Make Way for Tomorrow is a wonderful film about old age and family which is guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. While director Leo McCarey won an Academy Award for another film released that year (The Awful Truth) it was this which he was most proud of. It’s so beautifully written, with so much love but also a refusal to pander to studio execs. Make Way for Tomorrow is a movie which deserves to be reappraised as a masterpiece.
- High-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
- Tomorrow, Yesterday, and Today, an interview from 2009 featuring filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich discussing the career of director Leo McCarey and Make Way for Tomorrow
- Video interview from 2009 with critic Gary Giddins, in which he talks about McCarey’s artistry and the political and social context of the film
- PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Tag Gallagher and filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier, and an excerpt from film scholar Robin Wood’s 1998 piece “Leo McCarey and Family Values”
Make Way for Tomorrow is released on Blu-ray in the UK as part of the Criterion Collection on 25 April.