US Release Date: 08-31-1934
Directed by: Henry Hathaway
- Gary Cooper, as
- Jerry Day
- Carole Lombard, as
- Toni Carstairs Day
- Shirley Temple, as
- Penelope Day
- Guy Standing, as
- Felix Evans
- Charlotte Granville, as
- Mrs. J.H.P. Crane
- Gilbert Emery, as
- James Higginson
- Henry Kolker, as
- Mr. Clark
- Tetsu Komai, as
- Mr. Ling - Hotel Manager
- Akim Tamiroff as
- French Jeweller
Gary Cooper and Shirley Temple.
My wife and son both looked at me as if I were a bit off when I rented Now and Forever. They wanted to know what I saw in a Shirley Temple movie. Other than The Bachelor and the Bobbie Soxer, I have honestly never even seen a Shirley Temple movie, and was not actually interested in seeing one. However, Now and Forever stars two of my favorite old time actors, Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard. I always like finding great pairings of famous stars.
Cooper and Lombard play married couple Jerry and Toni Day. They travel the world having the time of their lives. They are not rich, they simply swindle money out of people and leave hotels without paying their bills. One day Jerry gets a note from his brother in-law, who has been taking care of Jerry's baby girl, Penelope, ever since his first wife died. Jerry decides to blackmail his brother in-law into paying him all kinds of money in exchange for giving him full custody of Penelope.
Toni suddenly gets a conscious and goes her own way. Jerry makes the trip and seals the deal, until he happens to run into his daughter. They spend the afternoon playing pirates, and Jerry falls under her charm. He forgoes the money and takes Penny with him.
Jerry is still without employment and is soon back to his old ways. He sells a phony goldmine to some sucker, Felix, and then hops a ship with Penny to Europe. The only problem is that Felix is likewise aboard.
Once in France, they run back into Toni. She still loves Jerry but is tired of his ways, and thinks he is unfit to raise a child. "You wouldn't know a responsibility if you fell over one in the street." She tells him shortly after discovering his goldmine scheme has gone awry.
To prove Toni wrong Jerry gets a job, while Penny makes friends with a rich old woman, Mrs Crane. Felix then shows his true colors. He is a con-artist as well and tries to blackmail Jerry into stealing Mrs Cranes necklace. Meanwhile, Mrs Crane sees right through Jerry. "You don't make much money and you spend a lot. That sounds like adventure to me, and if that's the case, Penny will get in your way someday." She offers to take Penny and raise her.
Will Jerry steal the necklace? If not, will Felix turn him in? Will Toni stick by Jerry's side? Will Jerry give Penny to Mrs Crane, to live a nice life? Or maybe, just maybe, Jerry will now and forever do the right thing?
I rented this film because of Cooper and Lombard, but it is not either of theirs best work. Cooper comes across more as a lunk head than a party boy. Clark Gable, and his shit eating grin, could have added some spark to this role. Lombard has very little to do and is fairly forgettable.
Shirley Temple does, in fact, steal the entire movie. Granted, this is not a great film, so take that as it may. She has the brightest smile and happiest presence. No wonder she was so popular during the depression. Here was a happy child oblivious to any real problems. She sings one song, but I just liked watching her act. In some scenes she has several lines of dialogue spoken all in one take. I had a hard time getting my 10 year old to remember to wipe his butt, how did this 6 year old remember her lines. Supposedly Temple memorized the entire scripts of her films. In one scene, that she does with Guy Standing, you can see her mouthing his lines as he says them to her. I honestly rented this DVD for Cooper and Lombard, but the only thing I enjoyed of it was Temple.
Carole Lombard, Shirley Temple and Gary Cooper in Now and Forever.
Eric, you may not remember this but I have a distinct memory of us watching Stand Up and Cheer at our grandparents house in the early 1970s. And I'm also certain we watched The Blue Bird together as well. At any rate I agree that Shirley Temple does indeed steal the movie away from Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard. 1934 was the year she became America's Sweetheart. She only sings one song, "The World Owes Me a Living", but she proves just what an accomplished actress she had already become by the tender age of six. After the release of this movie Temple's fan mail reached 500 letters a day.
Now and Forever doesn't fit the Temple movie template that Twentieth Century Fox would soon establish for their most bankable star. It's more adult and slightly darker in tone than her most famous movies, where she sang and danced while melting hearts and playing cupid for whichever stars were given the thankless supporting roles. But then this makes sense since she made this movie on loan out to Paramount, which was Cooper's home studio.
This isn't really a standard Gary Cooper movie either. He rarely played a father, especially at this early stage in his career, and this low key family melodrama isn't really his forte. Ditto for Carole Lombard who would soon make her mark as one of the greatest screwball comedy dames of them all. Now and Forever is an offbeat movie for each of its three main stars.
They each give solid performances though, especially Temple and Cooper. Lombard handles the drama well enough but isn't given as much to do. Cooper is particularly good as the movie heads towards its climax. Both he and Temple are impressive in the scene where she questions him about stealing the necklace. “Honor bright?” She asks, which is their code for telling the truth. Cooper can't look his innocent daughter in the eye. Her crying scene is very effective.
The ending is pure melodrama. It may have seemed like a happy ending to Depression era audiences but by today's standards seems rather cold. It is realistic in the sense that Cooper's character is flawed and even at the end I'm not sure he is truly reformed.
Charlotte Granville and Guy Standing are both excellent in their respective supporting roles. She's a domineering dowager with a heart of gold and he's a debonair charmer with the morals of a rattlesnake.
Now and Forever is a unique film. It features three great stars of Hollywood's golden age in a movie unlike any other each of them would ever again make. In that regard it's an interesting curiosity.
Shirley Temple and Gary Cooper in Now and Forever.
What a disappointment! All I knew when sitting down to watch this film was the title, the cast and the year it was released. With that knowledge, I think I can be excused for assuming this was going to be a comedy. Instead, apart from a few lighthearted moments, this is, as Patrick so accurately called it, a low key, family melodrama.
Like my brothers, I thought Temple completely stole the show. I've never really been a huge fan of her or her films, but even I have to admit that she's pretty darn adorable here. She's cute without being cloying and she manages to deliver her lines very naturally and without sounding as if she's parrot. Her scenes with Gary Cooper, particularly their first meeting, are the highlight of the film. Reportedly the two bonded off screen as well where Cooper charmed her on the first day by asking Temple for her autograph and nicknaming her “Wiggle-Britches”.
Lombard is beautiful as always, but almost any actress of the period could have played her part. In fact, she was a last minute replacement for Dorothy Dell, who died unexpectedly in a car accident. Dell had starred with Temple in Little Miss Marker where the two had grown close. According to legend, the news of her death was kept from Temple, but she discovered the truth during the filming of this movie and the scene where she cries when she learns that her father lied to her, was really because of the news of Dell's demise.
Thankfully, the film runs less than 90 minutes. It's not completely horrible by any means, but with this trio of stars, it should have been something more.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (1934)