It never dies. It’s only a day away. Sometimes, it even comes today. Yes, folks, Tomorrow Is Forever, and I can think of no better starring duo to prove it than Claudette Colbert and Orson “Mwah-hah, the French!” Welles. This 1946 gem from RKO Radio Pictures tells the tale of a man and wife separated by World War I. As the war ends, Elizabeth MacDonald (Colbert) discovers that her husband, John, has been killed in action — leaving behind an unborn (not to mention unknown) son on the way.
But John is not dead: captured by ze Germans, John’s face and body have been disfigured in battle, and he is reluctant to disclose his identity to the Nazis. Years later, their son has grown up into a fine young man (portrayed by Richard Long) and Elizabeth has moved onto a new husband, Lawrence (George Brent), and spawned another son with him. As World War II begins in Europe, John — who is now an Austrian citizen (complete with accent), goes by the handle of Erik Kessler, and has a young adopted girl (little Natalie Wood).
Returning to the States to work as a chemist (in Lawrence’s factory, nonetheless!), John/Kessler discovers what has happened since he went off to war over twenty years ago. Sadly, nobody recognizes him due to the plastic surgery he received (on behalf of the Germans). His presence warrants a few strange reactions from his former family — particularly Elizabeth — leaving John/Kessler the painful of dilemma of whether or not he should reveal his true identity to all, especially when his son reveals his desire to enlist in WWII.
Tomorrow Is Forever is a stirring drama that was adapted twice for the radio after its initial release in ‘46, and enjoyed a theatrical re-release in ‘53. As the years went by, however, the film became nothing more than another videocassette on the shelves. It wasn’t until MGM started their Limited Edition Collection of Manufactured-On-Demand DVD-Rs that we were able to see this stirring drama in a digital format. MGM’s issue is a pleasing one all-around, boasting a clear soundtrack and decent picture, and is recommended to classic film purists.
Besides, it’s interesting to see how the makeup crew all but predicted what Orson Welles would look like forty years later.