There's Always Tomorrow

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There's Always Tomorrow
There's Always Tomorrow poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Produced by Ross Hunter
Written by Ursula Parrott (novel)
Screenplay by Bernard C. Schoenfeld
Based on There's Always Tomorrow (1956 novel)[1]
Starring Barbara Stanwyck
Fred MacMurray
Joan Bennett
Music by Heinz Roemheld
Herman Stein
Cinematography Russell Metty
Edited by William Morgan
Distributed by Universal-International
Release dates
  • February 1956 (1956-02)
Running time
84 min
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1 million (US)[2]

There's Always Tomorrow is an American romantic melodrama which premiered in New York City on January 20, 1956. Produced by Universal-International, it is directed by Douglas Sirk with stars Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Joan Bennett.[3][4] The screenplay, based on a novel by Ursula Parrott, is by Bernard C. Schoenfeld.[5] Twenty two years earlier, Universal produced a same-titled version of this story, directed by Edward Sloman. Released in November 1934, the film provided an infrequent leading role for character star Frank Morgan (five years before The Wizard of Oz), with Binnie Barnes as his old flame and Lois Wilson as his wife.


Toy manufacturer Clifford Groves (Fred MacMurray)[6] is married to Marion (Joan Bennett), with three children, Vinnie (William Reynolds), Ellen (Gigi Perreau) and Frankie (Judy Nugent), but lately life has become drab and routine. A former co-worker, Norma Miller Vale (Barbara Stanwyck),[7] turns up unexpectedly and is now a glamorous fashion designer.

At the last minute before Cliff's frequently mentioned, but long-postponed vacation getaway with Marion to Palm Valley, Frankie injures her ankle and Marion decides to stay home and attend to her. Since it's too late to cancel everything, she urges Cliff to go alone. He reluctantly agrees, scheduling a business appointment at the location, thus giving him at least some additionally justifiable reason for going, but upon arriving and subsequently being informed that the meeting fell through, he suddenly again encounters Norma who, it is now revealed, happens to be a lonely divorcee taking a brief vacation at the same resort. Their succeeding close companionship, in riding horses together and dancing, is spotted by Vinnie, who has also taken a drive to Palm Valley with his girlfriend Ann (Pat Crowley), along with his friend Bob (Race Gentry) and Bob's girlfriend Ruth (Myrna Hansen).

Vinnie confides in Ellen that their father might be having an affair. Norma is invited to dinner, but the evening turns awkward as Vinnie and Ellen display open hostility towards Norma and refuse to speak to their father, while Ann, the most level-headed one among the young people, privately chastises Vinnie for his immature behavior. Marion, however, seems oblivious to any suspicion and when Cliff angrily says that he has had enough of being treated like a wind-up robot, ready to serve everyone's needs, she soothes him with warmly comforting and gently dismissive words that his various overreactions are due to tiredness and misunderstanding, that too much excitement in life would be just that, too much, and then starts getting ready for bed. Cliff, frustrated and sleepless, gets up and leaves the bedroom to call Norma, asking her to meet him the next day, just as Vinnie comes in and overhears the key part of his father's conversation.

During the dinner, Norma invites Marion and Ann to visit her design studio and, while there, Ann tries finding the right way to tell Norma that a rendez-vous with Cliff would cause unhappiness to the family, but Norma is sensitive enough to understand the import of Ann's meaning and, after Marion and Ann leave, calls off the meeting. Cliff, who can no longer control himself, goes to Norma's hotel and declares his love for her, but she tearfully asks him for time to think. In the meantime, Vinnie and Ellen go to Norma and begin with accusations, but as she points out their self-centered neglect of their father, they wind up pleading with her not to break up their parents' marriage. Ultimately, in another tearful confrontation with Cliff, Norma tells him that he would always regret abandoning his family and that she must leave alone. Vinnie reconciles with Ann, admitting that he acted in a way that was immature and selfish, while at home, Cliff looks longingly out a window as a plane carrying Norma flies overhead. In her seat on the plane, Norma has tears in her eyes, while Cliff is left to contemplate what is to become of his and Marion's marriage.[8]


Evaluation in film guides[edit]

Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide gives There's Always Tomorrow 2½ stars (out of 4) calling it a "sudsy but well-acted soap opera", while Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV ups the rating to a 3 star (out of 4) evaluation, describing it as a "mordant, intelligent soaper". TimeOut Film Guide's Paul Taylor goes further, stating that it is "a brilliant example of his [Sirk's] mastery of lacerating irony" and concluding that "her [Stanwyck's] generically-correct fairytale 'sacrifice' of self to the sanctity of the family, and the sanctioned role of the independent woman, merely intensifies the romantic agony of both dreamer victims. Tomorrow never comes."

Assigning 3½ stars (out of 5), The Motion Picture Guide describes it as "another of director Sirk's melodramatic, bitter attacks on the values of American middle-class life in the 1950s" and informs that Sirk's planned conclusion "was even darker than what appeared on the screen. The ending he filmed has MacMurray's [toy] robot [Rex] marching across a table top--making a final connection between his character and Rex. The original scenario had Rex reaching the edge of the desk and toppling to the ground. After crashing to the floor, the robot would struggle through a few final kicks before the end credits rolled." In the write-up, Sirk's biographer, Michael Stern, quotes the director, "In tragedy the life always ends. By being dead, the hero is at the same time rescued from life's troubles. In melodrama, he lives on--in an unhappy happy end."


In this film MacMurray's character says to Stanwyck's: "After all these years ... it's certainly wonderful to see you again.", and she replies, "It's wonderful to see you too." [9] MacMurray and Stanwyck had starred together in the classic film noir Double Indemnity twelve years earlier.

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