For Reel

After Tomorrow (1932)
July 19, 2012, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Frank Borzage

Two lovers are forced to continue putting off their marriage plans in After Tomorrow, a Depression-era drama from the great romanticist Frank Borzage. Charles Farrell, who worked frequently with Borzage in the late 1920s and early 1930s, was often paired with the incomparable Janet Gaynor, however this picture sees Marian Nixon give her best Gaynor impression as the love interest. She is well-suited to the task, both exuding the weariness of the lower class and, in spite of it all, an unquenchable sexual desire for her man, as seen in the film’s most erotic moment in which Farrell teases her with a kiss as cinematographer James Wong Howe backlights the lovers in an idyllic glow. Coming between the couple is their mothers – his, overbearing; hers, carrying an affair – which proves the perfect obstacle for a picture so in tune with a natural sense of community and familial relations. Even the lowliest of Borzage’s heroes were often depicted as being remarkably courageous and sprightly – Gaynor in Street Angel, as an example – however After Tomorrow‘s cast is made up of characters who aren’t terribly smart or ambitious beyond their practical desires. This is Borzage at his most earthbound; a social realist drama with an uncharacteristic pragmatism in its handling of marriage.

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