Tomorrow is Forever (1946) - Claudette Colbert & Orson Welles

This Valentine's Day let's discuss mature love in a classic movie. Not puppy love, not a new romance. Not a couple on the verge of infidelity or bickering constantly about their finances, but a couple who is happy. And love beyond the romantic type.

Tomorrow is Forever (1946) fits the bill.

John Andrew MacDonald (Orson Welles), whom the U.S. Army mistakenly declared dead long ago in the European War, returns to the U.S. decades later to discover that he has a son and that his widow Elizabeth (Claudette Colbert) is remarried to a another loving man -Lawrence Hamilton (George Brent).

John now lives in the U. S. as a former citizen of Austria under the name of Kessler. His wounds have disfigured him beyond recognition, so when Kessler shows up as consultant to Hamilton's business, Elizabeth has no clue she's shaking hands with her first husband.

World War II is burgeoning and his son Drew (Richard Long), now nearly 21 years of age, wants to join the Allies, which brings even more conflict to the plot.

Great conflict is an opportunity to express great love. If we define love as doing what's best for the other person regardless of the benefit to oneself, there's plenty of love to spare with these characters.

There is
  •  the compassionate man who becomes loving husband and adoptive father to a lonely widow and her son.
  • the biological father and son who share an ability to see beyond personal discomfort and express a love of family and country despite the risk of the ultimate sacrifice. In fact John says to his wife on his way to war, "Let me love you in my own way."
  • the love the son has for his parents, never wanting to bring sorrow to their lives.
  • the love of a mother for her son. Elizabeth doesn't want Drew to  die as her first husband did.
  • the love and respect John has for his wife's new family. You can see him gauging his options, never wanting to intrude.
Dilemmas abound in this movie. Will John tell Elizabeth that he is her husband? Will that change her perspective? What will everyone end up doing? The stakes are so high. One wrong move and everyone will be miserable.

Despite the fact that its title sounds like that of a cheesy James Bond film, Tomorrow is Forever is a solid story about love -actual love- on many different levels between and among its characters. It'll keep you guessing and hoping each character makes the right decision. Highly recommended for Valentine's Day (or any other day).

 Further Notes
  • Watch for a charming performance from Natalie Wood as a war orphan that Kessler adopts.
  • For a comic version of a similar story of a spouse believed long-dead who shows up again, watch My Two Husbands  with Jean Arthur and My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant.



  1. I've not seen this one, but thanks to your post, I'll keep an eye out for it.

    1. I don't even cry at funerals, but Tomorrow is Forever jerked the tears out of me. This is one worth exploring.


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