Looking Forward (1933)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Family Drama  |   Release Date - Apr 28, 1933 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 76 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Director Clarence Brown, a mainstay of MGM during the 1920's and early 1930's, could always be relied upon to deliver classy entertainment, and Looking Forward, based on the play Service by Dodie Smith (The One Hundred And One Dalmatians) is no exception. Lewis Stone and the English actress Elizabeth Allan are superb in their scenes together, as the business owner fighting a losing battle against the worldwide depression and his headstrong, spendthrift daughter; and Colin Clive is nicely low-key as well, in an important supporting role. But it is Stone's scenes with Lionel Barrymore, the latter portraying his dismissed longtime employee, that carry the picture -- they quietly chew up the screen together under Brown's expert direction, which mostly seems to have consisted here of getting out of the way of the two actors. The story itself resonates anew in 2009, amid a new economic crisis, although some aspects of the confidence expressed by the key characters in the final minutes of the movie -- an upbeat message added to the play, amid the travails of the Great Depression -- fit slightly awkwardly, in view of what we've seen up to this point in the picture. Otherwise, one must be able to tolerate a piece that, true to its source material, may seem terminally English to modern audiences; but the viewing is well worth it, especially to see Lewis Stone in a better role than his most familiar one today (as Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy movies), and with the added attraction of Oliver Marsh's excellent cinematography.