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Film review
Old times
  1. Steve Iliffe
  1. Correspondence to Dr Steve Iliffe, Department of Primary Care and Population Health, UCL Medical School, Hampstead Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London NW3 2PF, UK; s.ilffe{at}

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Make Way for Tomorrow. Directed by Leo McCarey, USA, 1937.

In the year that this film was released in the USA, an anonymous 73-year-old woman wrote in the Reader's Digest: “…when declining health and declining finances left me no alternative but to live with my daughter, my first feeling was one of bitterness”. She went on to list her rules of engagement in this new situation: “I must not be around when she was getting her work done, or when she had friends in. I must ask no questions and give no unasked advice. I resolved to spend the greater part of my day alone in my room”.

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This is almost a summary of Make Way for Tomorrow. An older couple are bankrupted in the wake of the Great Depression, when the husband loses his book-keeping job. Every American filmgoer knew this story. One in five banks had collapsed, and nine million families had lost …

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  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.