A couple of months ago - I add a bunch of Criterion Collection DVDs to my Netflix queue. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) is one of them. It gets buried at the bottom of a very long list. I forget about it.
Somewhat recently - TCM shows Make Way for Tomorrow. My mom watches it all the way through holding her bladder because she doesn't want to miss a single moment. When it ends, she's left confused but doesn't think about it since she is already running to the bathroom for relief.
The next day - My mom calls me. This is a bilingual recreation of our conversation.
Mom - Raquelle yo vie una pelicula muy buena en el canal 213. Era tan bueno que yo aguantaba la pee-pee para no dejar de verlo. Pero no entendie el final. Yo quiero que tu me ayudas. / Raquelle I saw a very good movie on channel 213 (my mom's name for TCM). It was so good that I held my pee so I wouldn't stop watching it. But I couldn't understand the ending. I want you to help me.
Me - Come se llamaba?/What was it called? (This is a loaded question, usually my mom can't answer this and it's followed by a "What was it about?" "Who was in it?" which causes my mother to get very flustered indeed).
Mom - Yo lo escribi! Make. Way. For. Tomorrow./ I wrote it down. " "
Me - Esta bien. Voy a verlo para ayudarte entender el final./ Ok. I'll watch it to help you understand the ending.
I went to Netflix to see if the film was on DVD and was pleasantly surprised that it was and I had already put it on my queue. I moved it to the top of the list.
Now this isn't the first time my mother has asked me for help figuring out the ending of a film. If the ending has any kind of twist, she gets confused. When I explain the twist to her, then everything makes sense. She had some difficulty with the ending of The Woman in the Window (1944). In that case, she didn't want to believe the ending so she told herself that she misunderstood it. We watched that one together so we followed up the film with a good discussion about the plot. There have been a few movies in which I Googled the film to find out the twist and reported back to her, instead of watching them. In this case, since the film was already of interest to me, I decided to see it for myself.
Sunday evening - Carlos and I just had dinner and we are deciding what movie to watch. I bring up the conversation with my mom and that she needed help understanding the movie. So in pops the DVD into the player and the film starts.
About 30 minutes into the film I start to cry.
The crying gets worse.
Carlos grabs me some tissues.
The crying turns into sobbing.
We have to fast forward through some parts of the film because I just can't take it.
Carlos begs me to stop the movie since it's clearly bothering me but I refuse because I want to help my mother understand the ending.
At the point in the film where the main couple is recreating their honeymoon, I already have a box of tissues, I am hugging a big blanket and I am sobbing uncontrollably.
The film mercifully ends.
Immediately after the film:
I call my mom and I ask her why in the name of all that is good would she make me watch this movie. The words come out of my mouth in between sobs. I explained the ending to her (again she just second-guessed herself, she understood it all along). She profusely apologized for making me watch the film. It's not her fault. She didn't know how it would affect me. Carlos isn't too happy that I suffered so much during the film. He put the DVD into the Netflix sleeve and sealed it up before I even had a chance to watch the DVD extras.
Plot (with some bias and some spoilers): Barkley (Victor Moore) and Lucy Cooper (Beulah Bondi) have been married for 50 years. They have five ungrateful children who are now grown and have lives of their own (not that their lives are any good anyway those idiots). The Coopers are about to be kicked out of their home and have nowhere to go. The ungrateful children split them up and take care of them bregrudgingly. One particularly evil daughter hates taking care of her father, that bitch, and wants to send him to her sister in California. This means the couple, still head-over-heels in love with each other, may be separated permanently because who knows if they will live to see each other again. Those heartless, selfish good-for-nothings separate their parents because at their old age they are an incovenience to them. Those same parents who gave birth to them, raised them, fed them, clothed them and sent them out into the world. And what do the parents get? Jack SHIT. Those ungrateful children should be lined up and shot.
Yes it's a sad film but what reason did I have to sob uncontrollably like I did? I'm talking heaving sobs complete with lots and lots of mucus.
First of all, thoughts of death follow me around. I've been known to have panic attacks about it. Thinking about impending death is not a good thing for me. Second of all, I just moved in with my beau Carlos. Thinking about what it would be like to be separated at an old age and to have death parts us makes me very very sad. Third of all, my 30th birthday is just right around the corner. I'm growing up. I'm getting older. And it scares me very much.
I recommend this film to all of those younger classic film fans who think they are so special because they are young. I think they need to be knocked off the pedestal they put themselves on.
And even though I clearly had a difficult time watching this, I think it's also a film everyone should see. It makes you appreciate life and the special people in it. And because of that, Make Way for Tomorrow is a classic.