One Of The Best Epical Films Yet...
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The British, and some American, cast shines in thiswnderful depiction of a grand English mansion and its inhabitants for over one-hundred years. The scenes of this picture are geniusely executed and planned out to the second! The efforts of actors such as Ray Milland, C. Aubrey Smith and Claude Rains were beyond words. Anyway, to all those not familiar with "Forever and a Day," it beigns with one grand-scale English being built in 1804 during the Napoleonic Era. This film advances through all the years up to then present day World War II with humor, adventure, and historical grandeur. Even though going through rough times, the house withstands the outside threats of enemy nations until 1940. By then, the manor is bombarded by one A. Hitler and inspectors are sent to report on the tragedies. However, on the wall of the house, the portrait of C. Aubrey Smith, head master and founder of the house, remains intact and shows England's durability during its darkest hours. You can also see that in this fim, the darndest guest appearences are made by veteran actors such as Buster Keaton, Charles Laughton, etc. All the actors did this film for free and looked to help the war effort in 1943, when truly the world was involved. This film is very hard to get. However, when it first opened, I saw it in my local motion picture theatre and have yet to forget the details. They are symbolic and still stand out in my mind. The message here is simple. It just tells you to smile, for tomorrow is another day."
Amazing collection of stars in a classic epic film
Joseph C. Jones | Tampa, FL United States | 12/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Forever and a Day is a marvelous, lyrical piece of World War II propaganda that boasts one of the most amazing casts and crew ever assembled for a motion picture.As the film begins, the Nazis are bombing London and an American visitor, Gates T. Pomfret (Kent Smith), journeys into the city searching for a house his father owns and that the current boarder, Lesley Trimble (Ruth Warrick), wishes to purchase. Gates' sarcastic attitude about the house leads Lesley to relate the history of the manse, and how both of their families have been intertwined since Admiral Trimble (C. Aubrey Smith) built it back in 1804. The house eventually fell into the hands of the Pomfrets, who later leased it out as a hotel during the First World War. Now, the building is only used as a bomb raid shelter.In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Hollywood was inundated with a phalanx of British actors and directors seeking refuge from the war while continuing the careers. Forever and a Day was specifically designed as a morale booster for the folks back home as well as a bit of propaganda for American audiences. The house, of course, is a metaphor for England herself--stalwart, traditional, broken but defiant and ultimately triumphant. The film combines laughter and tears to achieve its end, and though the fadeout is bittersweet, it's still incredibly uplifting. To create the film, one of the largest all-star casts imaginable was assembled to portray the various personalities who inhabit the house during the century and a half. Besides those mentioned above, there's also Ray Milland, Victor McLaglan, Anna Neagle, Herbert Marshall, Claude Rains, Dame May Whitty, Gene Lockhart, Anna Lee, Buster Keaton, June Duprez, Nigel Bruce, Elsa Lanchester, Donald Crisp, and many, many others. My favorites in the cast include Smith, who's alternately amusing and moving; Charles Laughton as a tippling butler; Ida Lupino and Brian Aherne as a maid and coal tender (respectively) who develop a romance during Queen Victoria's jubilee; Gladys Cooper and Roland Young as parents awaiting the return of their son from World War I; and Robert Cummings as an American doughboy and Merle Oberon as a hotel secretary who fall in love during that war.There was an all-star line-up behind the camera as well, with such acclaimed directors as Rene Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, Frank Lloyd, Victor Saville, Robert Stevenson, and Herbert Wilcox. The writing credits are equally diverse, including such names as C.S. Forester, James Hilton, Christopher Isherwood, Donald Ogden Stewart, and John Van Druten. I can't say who wrote or directed which episodes, because it's all been so seamlessly and exquisitely combined.Students of history and classic film are sure to thrill to Forever and a Day; modern audiences that just like a good story well-told are bound to enjoy it as well.The DVD is a bare-bones presentation, with just the film and chapter selections. The picture is a bit dark at times, showing its age, but the sound is marvelous."
Values To Fight For, With A Great Cast
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 05/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the story of a London house, from when it was built in 1804 as Napoleon was threatening to invade England, to the height of the blitz when Hitler was threatening to invade England. It's the story of the people who built house, who lived in it through the generations. It also is a valentine from Hollywood to the people of Britain to let them know their bravery and steadfastness is recognized and understood in America. The Hollywood studios collaborated on the film, allowing dozens of British actors, writers and directors in Hollywood, many under contract, to volunteer their talents: Directors like Rene Clair, Victor Saville, Alfred Hitchcock, Edmund Goulding; writers like Christopher Isherwood, James Hilton, John Van Druten; actors like Charles Laughton, Merle Oberon, Herbert Marshall, Anna Neagle, C. Aubrey Smith, Ray Milland, Ida Lupino, Claude Raines. The list of actors alone, some in quick cameos, others as major players in the story, numbers well over 100. Surprisingly, the movie manages to tell a coherent story.
One night in the middle of a German bombing attack, an American named Gates Trimble Pomfret (Kent Smith) finds his way to Number 6 Pomfret Street. At the behest of his father he wants to sell the old house to the young woman now living in it, Lesley Trimble (Ruth Warrick). He and his father have no use for old houses. He meets Miss Trimble in an underground shelter which can be accessed through the home's basement. Londoners are singing songs to keep up their spirit as the bombs fall. She lets him into the house and tries to explain why she wants to buy the place. She starts to tell him the history and says that somehow the people who lived here were all people she'd like to have known...and we flashback to 1804. Old Admiral Eustace Trimble buys land to build his house, a house meant to last. He builds it of stone and brick and timber. Even if Napoleon invades, he says, he and his family and his house will fight on to repel the invaders. He sets his house on the ancient fortifications built by Caractacus, who fought to repel the Roman invaders. In the cellars of his house he places a carved stone in one of the walls. Chiseled in it are the words "Eustace Trimble built this house and wishes well to all who shelter here."
Children are born, tragedy is endured. In time the house is bought by a rapacious squire named Ambrose Pomfret (Claude Raines). It eventually becomes the property of Dexter Pomfret, who in 1847 marries a woman named Mildred Trimble. He and his wife prosper and his son eventually inherits the house. In 1897, the family's maid (Ida Lupino) decides to join her special friend, a mechanic named Jim Trimble (Brian Aherne), a poor distant relative of the Trimbles, to go to America, to work hard and to make a new life. The house is eventually sold as too large and becomes a hotel, a genteel place for genteel people. Assisting to manage it is Marjorie (Merle Oberon), and in 1917 she meets a young yank who has 24 hours leave. His name is Ned Trimble. Later, as a widow, she and her daughter will buy the decrepit old building and try to renovate it. And the daughter, Lesley Trimble, now living in the house by herself, explains all this to Gates Pomfret.
The bombing is getting worse and the two of them return to the shelter. The German bombs strike closer and closer. At the all clear, they discover the house has taken a direct hit. In the ruins still survives the portrait of Admiral Eustace Trimble. Gates, who now realizes what this house has stood for all these years and generations, suddenly says, "Let's build again. He would," and he looks at the admiral. "Yes, he would," Lesley says. "He built a shelter, decency, dignity, everything a home should stand for. Oh, but he'd want to make sure first none of this would happen again." "You bet he would," Gates says to her. "And that's our job...yours and mine."
Sure, the movie is a bit dated, but the acting is great, ranging from Charles Laughton's tipsy butler, C. Aubrey Smith's blustery and brave admiral, to a very funny bit involving Cedric Hardwicke as a Cockney plumber and a silent Buster Keaton as his assistant. The story sequences are well told and interesting. Some are dramatic, some are humorous, some a combination. And they all hit right on the head the message that English values will endure and triumph. Forever and a Day is an unusual and effective piece of movie making. For a movie as old as this one, the DVD picture is in very good shape."