The Raging Moon

The Raging Moon (released in the US as Long Ago, Tomorrow) is a 1971 British film starring Malcolm McDowell and Nanette Newman and based on the book by British novelist Peter Marshall.[2] Adapted and directed by Bryan Forbes (Newman's husband), this "romance in wheelchairs" was considered unusual in its time owing in part to the sexual nature of the relationship between McDowell and Newman, who play disabled people. The film received two Golden Globe nominations, for Best Foreign Film (English Language), and Best Song for Long Ago Tomorrow.[3]

The Raging Moon
British 1-sheet poster by Arnaldo Putzu
Directed byBryan Forbes
Produced byBruce Curtis
Written byBryan Forbes
Based onnovel by Peter Marshall
StarringMalcolm McDowell
Nanette Newman
Georgia Brown
Barry Jackson
Music byStanley Myers
CinematographyTony Imi
Edited byTimothy Gee
Distributed byMGM-EMI
Release date
Running time
110 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom


Bruce Pritchard (Malcolm McDowell) is a 24-year-old working-class man and amateur football player with a passion for life. All this changes when he finds himself struck down by an incurable degenerative disease which means he'll need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He goes into a church-run home for the disabled, believing that his immediate family don't feel able to care for him. His bitterness at his fate and his dislike of the rules and regulations of the place only serve to make him more withdrawn and angry at his enforced imprisonment.

Pritchard gets to know a fellow patient, Jill Matthews (Nanette Newman), a 31-year-old woman from a wealthy family, who is also a wheelchair user, due to polio. Bruce begins to harbour romantic feelings for Matthews but, before he can make his feelings known, she leaves the institution to return home and marry longstanding fiancé, Geoffrey. However, Jill soon realiees that Geoffrey is half-hearted about marrying her and so breaks off the engagement and returns to the institution.

Gradually, she is able to break through Pritchard's shell of cynicism and lack of respect for authority, bringing life back to his existence. In the process, the two fall in love and admit their feelings for each other, going to consummate the relationship. Bruce and Jill's difficult circumstances have resulted in them finding the love of their lives. Soon, though, Jill dies from a virus. Bruce almost returns to his depression but, because of the courage he has found within himself through knowing Jill, is able to go on living.



It was based on a novel by Peter Marshall, who contracted polio when he was eighteen and lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair. (He died of pneumonia in 1972.) The novel was originally published in 1964.[4] Kirkys called it "a short novel, written with a sharpness of intelligence and feeling, and it is altogether genuine, a word easily exploited and seldom justified." [5] The New York Times called it a "fine, moving novel."[6]

In 1965 director Robert Butler bought the screen rights to it and another Marshall novel, Two Lives.[7]

The novel was adapted for television by the BBC in 1967 as part of the Boy Meets Girl anthology series. The main parts were played by Ray Brooks and Anna Calder-Marshall. Dennis Potter, reviewing it for the New Statesman, said the production "kept erupting into something raw and genuine."[8]

Film rights eventually went to producer Bruce Curtis, nephew of Harry Cohn, who had just made Otley (1969). He initially tried to finance the film through Columbia, but was turned down.[9] Shelagh Delaney wrote a script.[10]

Eventually Curtis took the project to Bryan Forbes who came on board as writer and director. Forbes decided to increase the age of the characters and write the lead role for his wife, Nanette Newman.[11]

Forbes was in the unusual position of being able to green light his own film as he was head of production for EMI Films at the time.[12]

Forbes commented that he was highly criticized in some quarters for directing a film while running the studio, even though he did not take any extra salary as the director. Once the film was made some executives at EMI did not want it released but Forbes held a successful test screening which secured company support.[1]


The film was not a success at the box office in the UK.[13]

The film was bought for distribution in the US by Don Rugoff who spent a large amount on advertising. The American release used a new title and had two minutes cut from the wedding sequence.[11]


Academy Award winner Gary Oldman chose to become an actor after watching the film.[14]


  1. Bryan Forbes, A Divided Life, Mandarin Paperbacks, 1993 p 174, 180-183
  2. "The Raging Moon (1970)". BFI.
  3. "Long Ago Tomorrow - Golden Globes".
  4. A LONG ISLAND ELECTRA: NEW NOVELS Coleman, John. The Observer 28 June 1964: 25.
  5. "The Raging Moon". Kirkus.
  6. Reader's Report By MARTIN LEVIN. New York Times 17 Apr 1966: 319.
  7. Randall Is Morocco-Bound Los Angeles Times 18 Sep 1965: b8.
  8. Playing with People Potter, Dennis. New Statesman; London Vol. 74, (Jul 1, 1967): 239.
  9. Dropping the Scalpel: Film Notes Columbia Frowns Speeds the Turnover Refuge From Roles By Judith Martin. The Washington Post, Times Herald 28 Feb 1969: B12.
  10. What's So Happy About Love, Anyway? By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 23 Mar 1969: D19.
  11. Tomorrow's love story Kramer, Carol. Chicago Tribune 5 Dec 1971: o19.
  12. He Says, 'Yes, Yes, Nanette': He Says, 'Yes, Yes, Nanette' By JOHN GRUEN. New York Times 24 Oct 1971: D11.
  13. The eclipse of the moon man Malcom, Derek. The Guardian, 26 March 1971: 15.
  14. "Gary Oldman on His Path from Sid Vicious to Winston Churchill". Variety. 2017.
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