For Reel

It Happened Tomorrow (1944)
June 30, 2014, 6:15 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: René Clair
3.5 Stars
It Happened TomorrowLike René Clair’s other fantasy film made during his wartime exile (I Married a Witch), It Happened Tomorrow is an intensely atmospheric, quick-paced comedy that is darkened by a magical brand of fatalism that threatens the likable hero. In this case, Dick Powell plays a reporter during the gay nineties who has been receiving tomorrow’s newspapers. He responds to the discovery with glee and soars to new professional and financial heights… that is, until one of the papers he receives informs him that he will be murdered the next day. What transpires is an equally comic and suspenseful chase towards his seemingly unavoidable demise, with the climax occurring in a nicely accomplished manic setpiece that scholars have linked to the energetic farces that Clair made in his home country. The cinematography credited to the prolific Eugen Schüfftan and Archie Stout is the real highlight–the appearances of the ghostly figure that gives Powell the newspapers are rendered memorably eery by shadows, fog, and claustrophobic framings. As a piece of moralism the picture flounders the opportunity for philosophical resonance (surely there are reasons to live in the moment other than getting into trouble with the law), but as a fantastical piece of Hollywood froth it’s kind of irresistible.

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