Tomorrow is Forever, plays on the parental fears that existed in the world between 1914 and 1918, and again from 1939- 1945: young sons/husband, eager and proud, enlisting to fight in the war.
It is a film that doesn’t get much of a run on television, which is a shame, because it is really quite good.
In the main cast we have two strong actors. Firstly, Claudette Colbert. By this stage of her career, Colbert had won an Academy Award (‘It Happened One Night’), received a further two nominations (‘Private Worlds’ 1936 and ‘Since You Went Away’ 1945) and around that time refused a Paramount renegotiation contract after realising that freelance work gathered more money. ‘Tomorrow is Forever’ is a RKO production.
And her performance in this film, as a widow who has to re-evaluate her life after the death of husband, is strong and at times emotional. Colbert offers a sense of believability to the role, that her exterior shows a strong, happy wife, while inside she is still fragile, haunted by the past.
Cast opposite her is the ever reliable Orson Welles. This was Welles’ third acting performance after Citizen Kane. The makeup and mannerisms of Welles resemble that of Charles Foster Kane, and of a future role Welles performed in ‘F for Fake’.
Welles’ was always careful with his delivery on screen. He allowed pauses in his speech. His eyes would open or close and he had the rare gift that all his speeches on camera sounded like some profound poem. Which is important here, because in effect he plays multiple roles, and opposite quite young actors.
The most noticeable of the young actors is 8 year old Natalie Wood. This was her first credited screen role, and she more than handles her own against the giants of cinema. Although one could become a bit irritated at some of the lines she has to deliver. Perhaps the effect of Welles’ diction was rubbing off on her.
There are a bunch of good supporting cast to ensure this film never becomes dull. George Brent had just completed the lead road in The Spiral Staircase (1945) – another RKO picture – and really shares co-billing with Welles in this film.
And what is not to love about Lucile Watson. You may remember her from Watch on the Rhine – which gave her an Oscar nomination, or opposite George Brent in The Great Lie (1941). Lucile plays a very strong elderly figure, which I would gather many filmgoers could relate to.
Directing these fine performances was Irving Pichel. A director who himself lived through World War 1, he was also a performer in earlier roles like Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Olivier Twist (1933). He was also a recognised screen narrator – you hear his voice in How Green Was My Valley (1941), and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949).
Tomorrow is Forever is one of my favourite films of 1946. It keeps your interest, has an impressive cast, and you find yourself wondering what you do in the situations the characters face.