In an English market town Janette Grant (Janette Scott) is a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl who has a big day ahead when she is due to perform a solo at the school's recital in front of the parents and guests. Well, most of the parents: hers are divorced and her father lives in Ireland, and her mother (Pamela Brown) has just announced as she was about to leave for the concert that she had a prior engagement, and has to head off to the links for a golfing competition. Janette is shocked and upset, and doesn't think she can go ahead with it, but her mother tells her not to be so silly and tell her all about it tonight. She has arranged for a car for Janette to drive her there, unaware she has just started a whole heap of trouble…
Janette Scott had been a child actress in the nineteen-fifties, following in her character actress mother Thora Hird’s footsteps (she had a cameo here as the maid, presumably also offering emotional support), but now as the advertising announced, she was grown up and ready to take on more mature roles, though that said she was still a teenager at the time, and playing someone around her own age. The crucial thing was that she was breaking out of the children's roles to see where a career would take her, and now she is recalled as one of the most beautiful British stars of her era, adding a lot of interest to a selection of science fiction and horror movies for which she was immortalised in the lyrics of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
But back at Now and Forever, it was ingénue parts she was taking, and she and her co-star Vernon Gray made a winning couple, both terribly naice and polaite and blessed with sweet smiles as Janette, the story's Juliet, finds her Romeo in Mike Pritchard, an unlikely mechanic working for his father (Jack Warner, the future Dixon of Dock Green). It was Mike who drove her to the recital and persuaded her to go through with it, and this sparks a romance between them, though a chaste one as befitting the era, it's just that Mrs Grant is something of a cold fish, verging on harridan, and fails to see the appeal in her daughter growing up and falling in love, so there we had our villain to boo and hiss.
Janette can only keep the secret of the relationship for so long, doing that old trick of sneaking out with Mike and returning to her bedroom quickly enough to jump into bed with all her clothes on and pretend to be asleep when her mother checks on her - Christina Milian lifted the idea for her From A.M. to P.M. video straight from this. Probably. Anyway, this can only go on so long but Janette is a highly strung young lady and when she's not daydreaming in classes about her boyfriend, she’s getting wound up by the society that won’t understand their love is a pure, wholesome thing, so as you might have expected when Mrs Grant decides to pack her off to Canada, she won't go and has a breakdown, then when Mike shows up to console her they have an idea: they will elope.
Up to this halfway point Now and Forever had been a rather earnest romantic melodrama, but then all of a sudden writers R.F. Delderfield (adapting his play) and Michael Pertwee had a brainwave and began to see the humour in the situation. Whereupon, in a change of pace that does benefit the film, this became a comedy thriller as Janette and Mike try to make it to Gretna Green to be wed, and seemingly meet every character actor and actress the producers could find for a selection of reactions to the young lovers, from disdain to encouragement. It should be noted the photography captured some truly chocolate box-y views of the British countryside in vivid colour, which matched the freshness of the two leads as they escaped across hill and dale (no motorways in those days). Setting aside Mike's occasional thumping of folks who get in his way, and Janette's occasional histrionics, we could excuse them as evidence of their "pash", and in their innocence you did want them to succeed in a cynical world; this was a fair-sized hit in its day, and if a little quaint has its charms now. Music by Stanley Black.
[Network's British Film DVD has a bright picture and a trailer and gallery as extras.]