There's Always Tomorrow (1956 film)

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There's Always Tomorrow
There's Always Tomorrow poster.jpg
Directed byDouglas Sirk
Produced byRoss Hunter
Written byUrsula Parrott (novel)
Screenplay byBernard C. Schoenfeld
Based onThere's Always Tomorrow (1956 novel)[1]
StarringBarbara Stanwyck
Fred MacMurray
Joan Bennett
Music byHerman Stein
Heinz Roemheld
CinematographyRussell Metty
Edited byWilliam Morgan
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal International
Release date
  • January 20, 1956 (1956-01-20) (New York City)
  • January 25, 1956 (1956-01-25) (Los Angeles)
Running time
85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1 million (US)[2]

There's Always Tomorrow is a 1956 American black-and-white romantic melodrama film directed by Douglas Sirk starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Joan Bennett. It was produced by Ross Hunter and distributed by Universal-International Pictures on January 20, 1956.[3][4] The screenplay, based on a novel by Ursula Parrott, is by Bernard C. Schoenfeld, which tells the tales of a toy-maker's unhappiness with his domestic life and his seeking of an exciting adventure with an old flame who pops into town.[5]


Toy manufacturer, Clifford Groves, is married to Marion and they have three children, Vinnie, Ellen, and Frankie. Lately, life has become drab and routine, and the family barely gives Cliff the time of day. A former co-worker, Norma Miller Vale, 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. However, upon arriving and subsequently being informed that the meeting fell through, he suddenly again encounters Norma, who is now revealed 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, along with his friend Bob and his girlfriend Ruth.

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. After Marion and Ann leave, she 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.


Production notes[edit]

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.

Douglas Sirk originally wanted There's Always Tomorrow to shot in color, but Universal refused; the studio, however, did grant the director's request of having cinematographer Russell Metty work on the film.

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."[6] MacMurray and Stanwyck had previously starred together in three other films: the Christmas romantic comedy trial film Remember the Night, a western film called The Moonlighter, and twelve years earlier, in the classic film noir Double Indemnity.


The film currently has a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb, a 3.5/5 rating on AllMovie, and an audience score of 82% on the film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 3.8/5, based on 491 reviews.

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."

Home media availability[edit]

Universal first released this film on DVD in 2010 as part of The Barbara Stanwyck Collection from its "Universal Backlot Series", a 3-disc set featuring five other films (Internes Can't Take Money, The Great Man's Lady, The Bride Wore Boots, The Lady Gambles, and All I Desire).[7] The print of There's Always Tomorrow from this set is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Universal then re-released this film in 2015 as a stand-alone DVD as part of its Universal Vault Series, where the picture features no optional English subtitles and has been cut to a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio.[8] There is also DVD releases of this film in Region 2 which use the newer widescreen print.

See also[edit]


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