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René Clair
Dick Powell, Linda Darnell, Jack Dakie
Writing Credits:
René Clair, Dudley Nichols

A young turn-of-the-century newspaper man finds he can get hold of the next day's paper.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English PCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 5/18/2021

• Re-Release Trailer


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It Happened Tomorrow [Blu-Ray] (1944)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 22, 2021)

For a twist on stories that warp time, we go to 1944’s It Happened Tomorrow. In this tale, we go to an unnamed big city circa the late 19th century.

Larry Stevens (Dick Powell) works as a reporter for the Evening News. An ambitious sort, he seeks any advantage to push ahead in his chosen profession.

Larry appears to get his wish when mysterious Pop Benson (John Philliber) gives him the ability to learn the news a day in advance. While this allows Larry to scoop his competitors, it comes with an ominous twist when one of the “early headlines” tells of his own death.

Two factors let us know Larry won’t die. For one, Tomorrow offers a mix of comedy and fantasy, so it doesn’t seem like the kind of film that would kill off its protagonist.

In addition, Tomorrow opens with a vision of elderly Larry as he alludes to his wild past. Since we see old Larry in the movie’s first five minutes, we understand he’ll survive.

That prologue becomes a pointless diversion, but not a fatal flaw. While Tomorrow never quite lives up to the promise of its premise, it still becomes a pretty enjoyable mix of suspense, fantasy, comedy and romance.

Tomorrow fares best when it stays whimsical, though that may come from the lack of tension related to Larry’s fate. I don’t want to obsess over my dislike for the prologue, but I do feel our foreknowledge of the fact Larry won’t die robs the climax of some drama.

Yeah, I know I said that a movie of this sort from the 1940s almost certainly wouldn’t kill off the lead. Nonetheless, it’d be nice to go into the finale with some question about Larry’s survival.

Getting past that, Tomorrow does mostly charm, even if it doesn’t live up to the cleverness of its basic concept. The idea of a reporter who knows tomorrow’s news today seems delightful, and the film occasionally mines this idea for fun.

However, it can get bogged down in extraneous elements, and I admit that Larry’s romance with stage performer Sylvia Smith (Linda Darnell) feels predictable and tedious. The fact Darnell looked stunning helps make these scenes go down more painlessly, but they feel contrived, as if the filmmakers figured they needed to shoehorn in “something for the ladies in the audience”, even if it didn’t do much for the plot.

Still, these moments don’t become a major problem, and the charm of the actors helps. All involved offer likable performances that add life to their roles.

Nothing about Tomorrow ever rubs against greatness, but it musters enough cleverness and energy to become a good movie, at least. It provides a brisk little tale that works most of the time.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C-/ Bonus D-

It Happened Tomorrow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into an erratic but usually appealing presentation.

Print flaws became the only real issue, as I saw occasional instances of specks, streaks and blotches. Though these remained reasonably minor, they created sporadic distractions.

The rest of the image satisfied, with sharpness that worked well. A few slightly soft spots materialized, but these didn’t crop up often, so the majority of the flick appeared well-defined.

Neither jagged edges nor moiré effects appeared. Edge haloes failed to occur, and grain felt natural.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while shadows worked well overall. A few shots felt a little off, but most showed the expected tones. Only the source defects impacted this otherwise strong transfer.

I found some disappointment with the film’s iffy LPCM monaural soundtrack. Audio quality was adequate for its age but no better.

Speech tended to be somewhat brittle and sibilant, but the lines remained intelligible enough. Music also showed some shrill qualities, and effects seemed slightly rough. This seemed like a spotty track, even given its era.

The disc includes the movie’s re-issue trailer but it lacks any other extras.

As a fantasy romp, It Happened Tomorrow lacks consistency. Still, it comes with enough fun and intrigue to keep us moderately entertained across its 85 minutes. The Blu-ray delivers generally positive picture as well as lackluster audio and skimpy bonus materials. Don’t expect greatness from Tomorrow and you’ll probably enjoy it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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