7 August 2013 | wes-connors
Clifford the Robot Man
Pasadena toy manufacturer Fred MacMurray (as Clifford "Cliff" Groves) is wealthy and successful, but feels neglected by his busy family. His children are preoccupied with their own lives and loving wife Joan Bennett (as Marion) always finds herself committed to something other than time with Mr. MacMurray. He feels ignored, unappreciated and lonely. Enter former employee Barbara Stanwyck (as Norma Miller-Vale). Formerly plain, but now an attractive dress designer, Ms. Stanwyck arrives in Los Angeles on business. She's clearly interested in rekindling something with MacMurray...
The best part here is that "There's Always Tomorrow" has director Douglas Sirk working in the 1950s, with his best photographer Russell Metty. This means artful shadows, stairways, windows and reflections. Such visuals, especially as they complement the story, are great. There is even a scene with Stanwyck's face shedding tears that are actually reflected raindrops; a technique said to have originated with "In Cold Blood" (1967). Quite possibly, this was done even earlier...
The cast is strangely unimpassioned. MacMurray and Stanwyck lack the level of spark they conveyed in previous collaborations. Perhaps this is the point. MacMurray has become like the toy robot he created. He's "Rex" the walkie-talkie mechanical man. Stanwyck appears to be hesitating an attempted seduction. While not the protagonist, she becomes the most interesting character. Completely and most maddeningly in the dark, Ms. Bennett acts robotically unaware of the threat to her supposedly perfect family life. Shaking things up is suspicious and literate son William Reynolds (as Vinnie).
******* There's Always Tomorrow (1/20/56) Douglas Sirk ~ Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Bennett, William Reynolds