Tomorrow is Forever (1946), Melodrama At Its Finest
While Tomorrow is Forever will not jerk as many tears as Random Harvest, it is a fine example of a tearjerker—a story that is overly sentimental, intended to evoke sympathy for the characters and sadness for their predicament. In the 1940s, making a credible tearjerker was an art, and some of filmdom’s greatest talents appeared in them—Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford—often bringing their audiences (yes, even the guys) to tears.
Tomorrow is Forever, a new release from MGM’s Limited Edition Collection (manufactured on demand), gives us the elegant Claudette Colbert in a story that begins at the end of World War I and ends on the brink of World War II. Elizabeth and John MacDonald (Colbert and Orson Welles) are a young, married couple when John, without telling Elizabeth, enlists to fight in the war. As everyone celebrates the end of the war in 1918, Elizabeth goes home for lunch to find a telegram from the War Department advising her that John was killed shortly before Armistice Day.
Elizabeth goes back to work, but faints on the stairs. A secret admirer (George Brent as Lawrence Hamilton) takes her to his aunt’s (Lucile Watson) home where they learn Elizabeth is pregnant. Of course, he falls in love with her, and after the baby is born, convinces her to marry him. What Elizabeth and Larry don’t know is that John is still alive but does not want to return home because he was badly wounded.
Fast forward 21 years, it’s 1939, Elizabeth and John's son, Drew (Richard Long) is nearly 21-years-old and about to graduate college. There is another son, Brian (Sonny Howe) who is 12. As coincidence would have it, an Austrian chemist, Erik Kessler and his adopted daughter (Natalie Wood) are allowed to emigrate to the United States, and Kessler has obtained a position working for—ta da—Lawrence Hamilton. The audience knows that Kessler is actually Orson Welles/John MacDonald with over-the-top old age make-up and a thick accent.Continued on the next page