Friday, August 3, 2018

Now and Forever ( 1956 )

"You can't separate us! We love each other!"

Lonely upper-class English schoolgirl Janette Grant ( Janette Scott ) falls in love with handsome Mike Pritchard ( Vernon Gray ), a poor mechanic from the local village. Janette's mother believes the courtship to be unsuitable and puts a stop to it by threatening to send her daughter to Canada. "Canada??!" the poor girl declares. And so, the two young lovers decide to defy their parents and attempt to elope to Scotland. 

Playwright R.F Delderfield clearly took inspiration from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" when he wrote "The Orchard Walls", the play which Now and Forever was based on. In place of the feuding families he focused the conflict on social class differences and an unfeeling mother ( excellently played by Pamela Brown ). It's an engaging story and you cannot help being sympathetic to the youngsters in their plight, especially that of poor Janette. 

Janette's parents were divorced when she was younger and so she lives at home with her mother, who coldly informs her one day that her father passed away in Ireland. This news, coupled with a lack of friends and her impending separation from Mike, leads her to attempt suicide by jumping from the bell tower at her school. Mike and Janette were willing to wait until they were older to marry but the threat of being separated now forces them to consider eloping as their only alternative. 
Michael Pertwee helped to write the screenplay which, although engaging, is rather incredulous at moments. Back in 1950s England, gossip yielded a powerful hand, especially in small villages, but would two eloping teenagers warrant front page news across England? By the end of the film, it seems as though the entire country's police force and its citizens have the dragnet set for their entrapment. 

Director Michael Zampi, who was best known for making comedies ( Too Many Crooks, Tonight's the Night, Laughter in Paradise ) shows that he was equally adept at handling drama. The Technicolor filming of Now and Forever is beautiful, as are the lovely scenes of the English countryside as Janette and Mike go scouring about in his hand-built roadster. The cast is top-notch, too. Janette Scott, a popular British child actress, was given the chance to display how well she could handle a more mature role and show her audience how much she was growing up. Vernon Gray, who resembles a young Tyrone Power, makes an admirable lover. Kay Walsh is also featured as Miss Muir, the headmistress at Janette's school. This role could have been expanded on because Kay's talent is wasted otherwise. Jack Warner plays Mike's father, and then there are small parts going to a number of great character actors such as Ronald Squire, Guy Middleton, Bryan Forbes, and Hattie Jacques. 

Now and Forever was clearly aimed towards a teenage audience with its heroes being two young defiant lovers. They set off on a romantic escapade to Scotland to elope and live happily ever after with only true love and nary a coin in their pockets to support them, but will a marriage such as theirs last? There is a disturbing air hovering over Janette's affection for Mike. It is as though the loss of her father made her realize that she had no one in the world to love and there was no one left in the world to love her. Miss Muir didn't have the courage to give her the maternal love she needed and after she meets Mike she pours all of the love that she stored up onto him. But this makes her seem possessive and all the more pitiable. Mike loves her but how much of that love was corrupted by fear after her suicide attempt? Even marriage would not clear the doubts and insecurities Janette has. 

So, while the film is thoroughly entertaining, its ending seems to leave the audience suspended. The title reads Now and Forever but perhaps Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? would have been more appropriate. 

Now and Forever is currently available on DVD from Network Distributing.

This post is our contribution to the 5th Annual Rule, Britannia Film Blogathon being hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts. Ready to read some more Brit film reviews? Then simply click here for a fine selection of posts. 

5 comments:

  1. Canada indeed!

    Quite an attractive pair and a gorgeous looking movie. Love is never as straight-forward as the young would have it. I fear at this stage, I might have more fears for the couple remaining together than for them getting together.

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    1. Yes, I found that amusing! Did the Brits think Canada was so bad? The moment her mother mentions the country, poor Janette flees from the car bent on throwing her life away. Ha! Like Romeo and Juliet, I don't think Janette and Mike have much of a future for themselves either, at least not until she gets her emotions sorted out first.

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  2. I rather enjoy British films from this period and remember Janette Scott fondly from CRACK IN THE WORLD, PARANOIAC, and especially DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. She was also immortalized in one of the best songs from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTuRE SHOW. So, even while NOW AND FOREVER may have some challenges, it's sounds like a movie for me!

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    1. I think you'd like it, Rick. Janette Scott was looking lovely in here. It has a nice mixture of drama, good location scenery, and some humor, too....just that ending..it's a little too improbably for me. If you scroll down on this forum there is posted a great article about Scott from 1976: http://filmdope.com/forums/82376-janette-scott.html

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  3. Thank you for taking part in the blogathon! I've never seen Now and Forever, but it sounds interesting (if a bit unbelievable at times). I will have to check it out!

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