Stanwyck, MacMurray, and toy robotThere’s Always Tomorrow starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Joan Bennett. Generally I’m down with Jeanine Basinger’s definition of a woman’s picture as one that centers on a woman and her experience, and this excellent film asks the question, Is it still a woman’s picture if you place a man in its center?

It’s a character study of a middle-aged, middle-class man who is being buried alive by the soul-crushing indifference of his family. Their security and happiness seem to depend on his complete self-negation (a commonplace for women rarely explored in male characters). Old colleague Stanwyck shows up at a critical moment and they connect quickly and profoundly.

Will MacMurray abandon his clueless fam for Stanwyck, who truly adores and appreciates him? This is a tremendous lesser-known Sirk that deserves a wider audience. It was the last of MacMurray’s three films with Stanwyck, following Remember the Night and Double Indemnity. Those are high standards to live up to, and they do so beautifully and with real soul.

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