30 August 2012 | bkoganbing
The House and the generations who lived there.
This was one unusual project especially for a relatively minor major studio like RKO. In Forever And A Day they assembled a whole bunch of players from the Hollywood British colony, imported a couple like Anna Neagle and Jessie Matthews who did their work across the pond and put them all in one film that was directed by a half dozen directors or so. That many hands in the creation usually is a recipe for disaster. Usually that spells incoherent, but in the case of Forever And A Day it's just ponderous.
Kent Smith and Ruth Warrick meet during the blitz, she owns a house he'd like to buy. It turns out he's distantly related to Warrick. The house was built by their common ancestor C. Aubrey Smith who was a retired admiral during the Napoleonic Wars. He built the place in an area that was rural then, London hadn't spread out that far. Warrick then starts telling the story, warts and all, of the house and the generations who lived there.
I'm amazed the film was as good as it was. Still the story is slow moving and definitely parts are better than the whole. The only villain in the piece is really Claude Rains who was an ancestor, but a conniving schemer who had his ward stolen from him by Ray Milland as he was about to make a profitable match for her. A lot of women really were chattel in 1804. Rains is never bad in anything.
Charles Laughton had a small role as a butler to one of the generations that lived in the house. Watch Laughton in this tiny role, it's one of the best examples of a consummate actor making something out of a nothing role.
Forever And A Day is interesting, but that's the best I can say for it. It was good wartime propaganda, it's not the kind of film to ever be remade. If it is, hopefully with one good director and one creative vision.