****/**** Image B+ Sound A- Extras A
starring Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi, Fay Bainter, Thomas Mitchell
screenplay by Viña Delmar, based on the novel The Years Are So Long by Josephine Lawrence
directed by Leo McCarey
by Walter Chaw Orson Welles famously proclaimed that Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow could "make a stone cry," and it could, not because of any sentimentality, but because it pinions essential human failure mercilessly. Its tragedy is born not of high melodrama, but of low archetype. It's any story of a close, loving relationship, a mentor/apprentice relationship, that ends in less shocking than mundane betrayal that is largely preordained and even necessary. What so wounds about Make Way for Tomorrow is that the audience identifies with not only the parents who have outlived their usefulness to society and their families, but also the children who are too busy with their own lives to include them. It puts us in the role of both betrayer and betrayed. The agony it elicits is complex and multifoliate. It compounds on itself. At the end, it's even a movie about the idea that every love story is a tragedy because if everything goes exactly right, one lover will still die before the other. The film is a passion play in which the audience is Judas as well as Jesus. Make Way for Tomorrow's impact is startling some eighty years after its release, and will remain startling another eighty years from now.