Depending on the source, either a story or a play by twentieth-century Anglo-Irish author Lord Dunsany (Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany) is credited as a basis for René Clair’s comedy-fantasy It Happened Tomorrow, which itself may have inspired the U.S. television series Early Edition starring Kyle Chandler. Dudley Nichols and Clair were the principal authors of the 1944 film’s script, which also owes something to H.G. Wells’s brand of time-bending wistful whimsy.
     In 1890, Larry Stevens’s 500th obituary means he graduates to real reporting at the newspaper for which he works. “Time is an illusion” for co-worker “Pop” Benson, “ who to prove his point delivers, magically, a day early to Larry each of three consecutive daily editions of their paper. This allows Larry to become the paper’s star reporter, seemingly advancing from prescience to omniscence. Meanwhile, Larry romances Sylvia, who with “Cigolini,” really, her Uncle Oscar, is part of a stage act in which she goes into trances and predicts the future. The narrative-frame of Sylvia and Larry’s golden anniversary celebration enables us to predict for the pair a long marriage.
     Enjoyable rather than Preston Sturges-hilarious, It Happened Tomorrow is light entertainment, although also a bit haunting at the finish, and filled with a sufficient number of false appearances and potentially calamitous outcomes as a result to strengthen its continuity. On the other hand, much of the film irritates, whether because the police wrongly suspect Stevens of criminality or because Oscar, played by Jack Oakie with his farcical Mussolini-accent for Chaplin (The Great Dictator, 1940), is himself so irritating. Dick Powell charms as Larry Stevens, while beauteous Linda Darnell dazzles the senses.
     Memorable: dressed like a man, Sylvia slips into her apartment through the window, damaging her own reputation.


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