When I was a young’n, my favorite TV show was Early Edition, a series in which Kyle Chandler received “tomorrow’s news, today” in the form of a newspaper delivered to him by a cat. (Seriously, a cat known only as “The Cat.”) He used this unique gift to do a lot of cool things, like save lives and solve crimes.
Little did I know at the time, this idea was not unique. Though the creators of the program claim they were not influenced by classic cinema, their show’s premise is similar to that of 1944’s It Happened Tomorrow, a film about a newspaper man (Dick Powell) who gets the news a day early. Rather than using this to save the lives of others and solve crimes, the reporter uses his gift to get the scoop earlier than any other publication. He takes advantage of it for his own gain, rather than for the good of the community.
In addition to Mr. Powell, the cast includes Linda Darnell (as his girlfriend), Jack Oakie, Edgar Kennedy, and George Cleveland. It Happened Tomorrow was directed by René Clair and based on a play by Lord Dunsany.
It Happened Tomorrow is a fun little film. The pace is pretty fast and consistent, and the performances are nicely-executed.
Dick Powell and Linda Darnell are both very good in their roles, and they work well together. Their romance is a sweet addition to the story. It’s a very believable relationship, despite the fact that he’s a reporter with a magical newspaper and she makes a living pretending that she can see the future. The characters both lead quirky lives, so they fit together. Powell and Darnell have nice chemistry, which makes their relationship even more enjoyable to watch.
Jack Oakie is another nice addition to the cast, playing uncle to Darnell’s fortune-telling character. They work together, putting on mystical stage shows. Oakie’s character is also a guardian and father figure to Darnell’s. Some of the film’s funniest and silliest scenes are focused on him, such as one in which he sees a pile of men’s clothes under her bed and goes into over-protective mode, assuming that a burglar had been hiding there but escaped through the window.
The story is interesting, putting a fantasy twist on the very familiar “reporters and criminals” formula. There’s a lot of comedy mixed in, along with the fantastical elements. There’s also a plot twist thrown in. *SPOILER* Powell’s character, receiving the latest early-delivery newspaper, reads his own obituary in the paper and must try to prevent his own death. Though this sounds like a pretty dark twist, it’s handled with humor and adds another layer of interest to the story rather than drastically changing the tone of the film. *END SPOILER*
An action-packed conclusion wraps up the crazy tale of It Happened Tomorrow, keeping the film full of energy up until the very end. I enjoyed this flick quite a bit and would recommend it for fans of fantasy-comedy. The score: 3.5/5