Toronto Film Society presented Forever and a Day (1943) on Monday, February 12, 1979 in a double bill with The Mudlark as part of the Season 31 Monday Evening Film Buff Series, Programme 6.
Production Company: RKO-Radio. Producers and Directors: Rene Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, Frank Lloyd, Victor Saville, Robert Stevenson, Herbert Wilcox. Screenplay: Charles Bennett, C.S. Forester, Lawrence Hazard, Michael Hogan, W.P. Lipscomb, Alice Duer Miller, John Van Druten, Alan Campbell, Peter Godfrey, S.M. Herzig, Christopher Isherwood, Gene Lockhart, R.C. Sherriff, Claudine West, Norman Corwin, Jack Hartfield, James Hilton, Emmet Lavery, Frederick Lonsdale, Donald Ogden Stewart, Keith Winter. Photography: Robert de Grasse, Lee Garmes, Russell Metty, Nicholas Musuraca. Music: Anthony Collins. Art Direction: Albert D’Agostino, Lawrence Williams, Al Herman.
Cast: Anna Neagle, Ray Milland, Claude Rains, C. Aubrey Smith, Dame May Whitty, Gene Lockhart, Ray Bolger, Edmund Gwenn, Charles Coburn, Ian Hunter, Jessie Matthews, Charles Laughton, Montagu Love, Cedric Hardwicke, Reginald Owen, Buster Keaton, Wendy Barrie, Ida Lupino, Brian Aherne, Edward Everett Horton, June Duprez, Eric Blore, Merle Oberon, Una O’Connor, Nigel Bruce, Roland Young, Gladys Cooper, Robert Cummings, Richard Haydn, Elsa Lanchester, Sara Allgood, Robert Coote, Donald Crisp, Ruth Warrick, Kent Smith, Herbert Marshall, Victor McLaglen.
Forever and a Day was cooperatively made by seven directors and producers, twenty-one writers and seventy-nine actors and actresses. It was conceived as a tribute to Britain’s great courage, by her nationals and her friends in Hollywood–all who took part gave of their services for free and profits realized in the U.S.A. went to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. In Britain, numerous war charities were assisted.
Structured episodically, the film traces the history of one English family from 1804 to 1943. It is as interesting as a chronicle novel, and though the interest is necessarily scattered rather than concentrated by the episodic treatment, the action is well-sustained, and the fighting spirit of the Old Admiral (C. Aubrey Smith) who built the house in which the succeeding generations live, forms a connecting link. In the end, it is not bricks but the valiant spirit which survives from one century to another.
For so numerous a cast it is not possible to detail all the fine performances. The second, mid-Victorian episode, is a bright bit of comedy in which Charles Laughton and Jessie Matthews are involved and Sir Cedric Hardwicke and Buster Keaton are great fun as a pair of plumbers installing a bathtub. The young Ida Lupino gives a lively performance as a maid in another episode. There is a splendid scene with Gladys Cooper and Roland Young as the mother and father of a first World War hero informed, on a festive evening, of sudden tragedy.
Each sequence shows care and fine casting, directing, and writing. All in all, a marvellous film.
Notes by Barry Chapman
October 2022 – April 2023