Forever and a Day (1943 film)

Last updated
Forever and a Day
Original film poster
Directed bymultiple director [1]
Written bymultiple writers [2]
Produced bymultiple producers [3]
Starring Kent Smith
Ruth Warrick
Cinematography Robert De Grasse
Lee Garmes
Russell Metty
Nicholas Musuraca
Edited byGeorge Crone
Elmo Williams
Music by Anthony Collins
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • March 26, 1943 (1943-03-26) [4]
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States

Forever and a Day is a 1943 American drama film, a collaborative effort employing seven directors/producers and 22 writers, with an enormous cast of well-known stars.



In World War II, American Gates Trimble Pomfret is in London during the Blitz to sell the ancestral family house. The current tenant, Lesley Trimble, tries to dissuade him from selling by telling him the 140-year history of the place and the connections between the Trimble and Pomfret families.



In March 1940 Cedric Hardwicke initiated plans for a movie made without remuneration by British writers, directors and actors/actresses, intended to honor their homeland's spirit and to benefit war relief charities, with RKO Studios financing the production costs of the film with a $300,000 budget: it was estimated that had the film's pro bono participants been salaried the film would have cost $6 million (the actors and actresses appearing in the film were reportedly paid $60 a week as mandated by Equity – their pay may have been routinely donated).

The film – whose first working title was Let The Rafters Ring with This Changing Time and Forever and a Day both later put forward as possibilities – had its original projected completion date of 1 June 1941 negated by the screenplay not being completed until April 1941. W. P. Lipscomb – who was paid $10,000 – wrote this screenplay, reportedly drawing on the brainstorming sessions of a committee of writers musing on a scenario proposed by Robert Stevenson. This scenario, attributed by Stevenson to an unpublished novel he'd written, overtly reprised the scenario of Cavalcade (1933), the first British film to emphatically find favor with the American film industry and moviegoers, which had outlined the personal history of the families resident in a London townhouse within the context of the historical events of 1899 to 1929. To accommodate a large cast of British-born stars Forever and a Day had an extended timespan of 136 years (1804-1940), and was filmed – with minimal advance publicity – in May–December 1941.

The film's first episode – directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring his wife Anna Neagle as well as Ray Milland and Claude Rains – was filmed in two weeks in May 1941, with Neagle and Rains reprising their roles in the second episode completed – under Robert Stevenson's direction – in June. The film was then dormant for several months due to scheduling issues with its projected stars: Ronald Colman and Greer Garson had offered to appear in the film but they were disallowed by MGM from playing the focal couple of the third episode, that studio feeling it would lessen the impact of the upcoming Colman/Garson star vehicle Random Harvest . The episode's director Victor Saville extended an invitation to British stage musical star Jessie Matthews, then in New York City preparing for a Broadway role, to replace Garson (Saville had helmed the most successful films made by Matthews in her homeland in the 1930s): Matthews agreed to film Garson's intended scenes over three days in Hollywood in September 1941, playing opposite Ian Hunter whose services MGM had donated to cover for Colman (Hunter had been Matthews' leading man in one of her lesser films: The Man from Toronto (1933)).

The fourth episode was set to film in the autumn of 1941 after Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock – the leading man and director – had completed the film Suspicion : the availability of the episode's leading lady: Ida Lupino, was a non-issue, the actress being on suspension at Warner Bros. When the filming of Suspicion ran overtime preventing both Grant and Hitchcock from filming the fourth episode in September 1941 Brian Aherne replaced Grant as Lupino's leading man, with René Clair replacing Hitchcock as director. Filming on the fifth episode – with Edmund Goulding directing leading players Robert Cummings and Merle Oberon – began 27 November 1941, with the film as originally envisioned completed after the filming day of 1 December 1941: however the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor infused in Hardwicke the need to modify the film to reflect the direct involvement in World War II which Pearl Harbor made inevitable. When the film remained incomplete several months into 1942, RKO – who by then had spent $100,000 over the agreed $300,000 production costs budget – insisted the film be "wrapped" and made ready for release, assigning Frank Lloyd to direct Kent Smith and Ruth Warrick – both RKO contract players – in a "framing" segment set in 1941 which would open and close the film also popping up between the second and third episode. It was hoped that Forever and a Day could be released in November 1942: however the film would not be released until March 1943. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]


  1. Directors: René Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, Frank Lloyd, Victor Saville, Robert Stevenson and Herbert Wilcox.
  2. Writers: Charles Bennett, Alan Campbell, Norman Corwin, C. S. Forester, Peter Godfrey, Jack Hartfield, Lawrence Hazard, S. M. Herzig, James Hilton, Michael Hogan, Christopher Isherwood, Emmet Lavery, W. P. Lipscomb, Gene Lockhart, Frederick Lonsdale, Alice Duer Miller, R. C. Sherriff, Donald Ogden Stewart, John Van Druten, Claudine West, Keith Winter and Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited).
  3. Producers: René Clair, Edmund Goulding, Cedric Hardwicke, Frank Lloyd, Victor Saville, Robert Stevenson and Herbert Wilcox.
  4. "Forever and a Day: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  5. Glancy, H. Mark (1999). When Hollywood Loved Britain: the Hollywood 'British' Film 1939-1945. Manchester UK: Manchester University Press. pp. 170–172. ISBN   978-0719048531.
  6. Matthews, Jessie; Burgess, Muriel (1976). Over My Shoulder. London: Wyndham Publications. p. 171. ISBN   0-352-39703-9.
  7. Dayton Journal 14 February 1942 "Biggest All-Star Cast Works 2 Years in Secret: nation's entry into war causes change; title still uncertain" by Frederick C. Othman (UPI Hollywood Bureau) p.5
  8. Rock Island Argus 10 August 1942 "Film Fanfare" by Belle Ayer p.8
  9. Minneapolis Star 2 November 1941 "Actors, Others Join Forces to Do Film Just For Charity" by Hubbard Keavy p.12
  10. Philadelphia Inquirer 26 November 1941 "Movie Makers Plan Jerome Kern Film: musical with cavalcade of his hit tunes is studied; Walt Disney will start 'Peter Pan' at once" by Louella O. Parsons p.19
  11. Philadelphia Inquirer 1 October 1942 "War Picture Plagued by Revisions: 'This Changing World' finally near completion" by Frederick C. Othman (UPI Hollywood Bureau) p.20

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