Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)

The bond between parents and children is certainly special, heartwarming, but can also be a contested one. We often think about this relationship as being tested during adolescence, when children are adamantly defying their parents’ authority and searching for their identity. Inadvertent authority may be in the hands of children as roles reverse. Parents may come to be dependent on their children, and this brilliant film delves into these concepts in a very pragmatic and heartbreaking manner.

Directed by Leo McCarey and starring Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi (definitely typecast as a homemaker mother in many classic films but portrays the role so well) play Barkley and Lucy Cooper, an elderly couple who are on the cusp of celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The film is definitely true to its era – this lovely couple’s home forecloses and Barkley cannot find work. Their five adult children were then in a position to aid their parents in finding a new place to call home. Ultimately, there are minute annoyances from Barkley and Lucy that the families find quite difficult to live with on a daily basis. It is absolutely unthinkable that this devoted couple could be separated at their stage in life, but it becomes a highly unfortunate possibility as the film progresses.

The idea of “tomorrow” has many possibilities – fear, uncertainty, joy, and a multitude of others. I feel that the title “Make Way for Tomorrow” reflects the dismal awareness that the couple’s future may be imploding secondary to their children’s unwillingness to aid them when one of their basic needs is threatened. The couple are very reluctant to potentially travel down a path which they most certainly should not. However, the possibility of family recognizing the massive err of their ways could happen “tomorrow” as well. Whether we experience joy or sadness on any particular day, the possibilities for “tomorrow” are endless.

With the growing population of elderly individuals throughout the world, the issue of placement of the elderly into long term care as well as other assisted living arrangements is a highly pertinent issue in today’s society. Healthcare providers and families have to be attuned to the needs of seniors. These needs may involve mental and physical health, degree of nursing care required daily, as well as safety. However, I believe that one vital factor has to be elderly couples’ accessibility to one another during this period of transition. The elderly need comfort as they age, reflect on their lives, and face death. The greatest comfort that can be provided is each others’ love, company, and support.


I do not own the above image.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s