Felix E. Feist | Tomorrow Is Another Day
| The Man Behind the Gun
Classic Film and Television Home Page
Felix E. Feist
Felix E. Feist started out doing comedy shorts. Then he graduated
to a few features. Finally, the bottom fell out of feature film
making for him, and he switched over to directing TV in the 1950's and 1960's.
He is a little known director today. I did not at
all enjoy his grim film noir about hitchhiking, The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1948).
Tomorrow Is Another Day
The title Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951) always evokes a film
noir in which Scarlet O'Hara tracks down hired killers in the
back alleys of Atlanta. Unfortunately, no such film exists, although it might be fun...
Instead, the real film Tomorrow Is Another Day seems to have no connection
with Margaret Mitchell's Civil War novel, Gone With the Wind (1936).
Links to Stagecoach
The young hero of Tomorrow Is Another Day has just
been let out of prison after serving a long term for murder, a
murder he committed while in his teens. In this he resembles the
hero of John Ford's Stagecoach (1939),
the Ringo Kid. Both are young men who have had almost no real
experience of the adult world. Although they look grown-up physically,
neither has actually lived in society as a grown-up. Both are
underdeveloped people with little experience in the ways of the
world. Both are outsiders in the often corrupt society around
However, Tomorrow Is Another Day is a film noir that
takes place in modern times, while Stagecoach is a Western.
The Ringo Kid at least had plenty of ranching skills that would
help him survive in the society of his day, while the young hero
of Tomorrow Is Another Day is really lost at all levels.
Tomorrow Is Another Day deals with an issue that has gained
in political prominence over the years. While still a child, the
hero killed his father, a man who physically abused both his wife
and children. Today there would be more sympathy for what this
kid did. In the 1950's, abuse was not seen as a political issue.
The young man is treated as a murderer, pure and simple. He is
sentenced to a long prison term, and when he gets out, his status
as an ex-con keeps him from getting a job. Tomorrow Is Another
Day does not explicitly make child abuse a political issue,
either. Yet it shows it as a major life experience for people,
at a time in the 1950's when the subject was rarely discussed in public.
Tomorrow Is Another Day also violates what many
people believe to be the norm of 1950's entertainment: that families
were always happy and untroubled in Hollywood film and television.
It is clearly a glaring counterexample to this idea.
Tomorrow Is Another Day features that staple of film noir, mirrors:
Such mirror shots help give Tomorrow Is Another Day a film noir feel.
- The warden has a mire behind his desk. The hero is seen exiting the warden's office
in this mirror.
- The hero is seen in the rear-view mirror in a car.
- A mirror is in the hat shop window.
Tomorrow Is Another Day shows car culture:
- The hero experiments with high tech windows on a car, after his release from prison.
- A truck carrying numerous cars offers refuge to the hero. This enables some complex shots.
The Man Behind the Gun
The Man Behind the Gun (1952) has one of the most complex
plots of any 1950's Western. In fact, the less you know about
the plot, the more enjoyable the film might be. One of its chief
pleasures is watching its endlessly complex plot unfold. The film
mixes the personal with the political: both the personal relationships
of the characters are important, as well as their connection to
the political drama in which they are caught.
The title The Man Behind the Gun has little relationship
to the movie. It is a generic Western title that could have been
slapped on any film.
Family Life: the Dark Side
The Man Behind the Gun shows skepticism about family life,
again. The relation of the heroine to her boyfriend is troubled,
as is the relationship between the Senator and his sister.
Los Angeles in the 1850's
The setting of The Man Behind the Gun is unusual: Los Angeles
in the 1850's. Los Angeles is already a well-developed city by
this time, but one drastically different from today's metropolis.
Most Westerns take place in a sort of never-never land. They
might describe themselves as being set in Dodge City or Cheyenne,
but little attempt is made to relate these places to the modern
cities of the same name. These cities are just abstract Western
towns, which could be given any name.
By contrast, the Los Angeles
of this movie is recognizably both similar to and different from
the city of today. The geography is the same, the all important
issue of water rights is the same.
But the city also has an entirely different look and feel from today's city.
The sets also do not look like the generic "Western town" sets of so many
movies. Instead, they have a Spanish feel, crossed with an Old
West look. They also look extremely prosperous and bustling. Many
Western towns in the movies have a "primitive" look;
but LA here looks sophisticated, even glamorous, and fairly well
developed and booming. This makes this film as much a historical
drama, as it is any sort of Western.