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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Movie Review - Remember the Night

Remember the Night (1940)
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, and Sterling Holloway
Directed by Mitchell Leisen

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray teamed up for one of the best films ever in Double Indemnity so I was looking forward to their partnership in Remember the Night, a romantic comedy that is quite a departure from the film noir I had seen them in prior.  While Remember the Night is no Double Indemnity the film is moderately successful...although I still find it a bit odd that Stanwyck's rather sassy demeanor garnered her leading lady status in romantic films like this.

Here Stanwyck is Lee Leander, a woman justly accused of shoplifting an expensive piece of jewelry from a department store the week before Christmas.  MacMurray is the prosecuting attorney John Sargent who, after hearing the defense attorney's plea that Lee was "hypnotized" by the glimmer of the jewelry, calls for a recess so the state's psychiatrist who is on Christmas vacation can testify against Ms. Leander.  When the judge agrees, Lee is to be held in jail over the holidays.  John feels a bit bad about this and ends up asking the agreeable bail bondsman a favor to let Lee out for Christmas.  After discovering that as a youth Lee lived just miles from John's hometown in Indiana, the two resident New Yorkers set out on a road trip to see John's family for the holidays with a stop in at Lee's mother's house along the way.  Of course, it wouldn't be surprising if the two begin to feel affection for one another, would it?

Both Stanwyck and MacMurray are good here -- but they're always good in nearly everything I've seen them in.  Director Mitchell Leisen actually does a bit here with shadows and lighting to make his film stand out from the typical holiday norms, but Preston Sturges' screenplay which is strong at the beginning during the courtroom scenes, falters quite a bit as Lee and John take their road trip.  In fact, their journey is almost painfully mundane.  Fortunately, the film picks up again when John makes it to his family thanks to some nice supporting turns from Beulah Bondi and Sterling Holloway (the voice of Disney's Winnie the Pooh, Kaa the Snake, and many more) as John's mother and brother, respectively.

Remember the Night isn't particularly memorable, but it's not cloyingly sentimental either as some holiday flicks are wont to be.  And plus, Stanwyck and MacMurray are always a treat to watch.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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