Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember the night: An overlooked Christmas Classic...

When we think of classic Christmas movies we tend to remember It's a Wonderful life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and the many film adaptations of A Christmas Carol. Those are all beautiful stories brought to the screen in timeless productions that we revisit year after year, but there are so many other lovely Christmas films out there that for one reason or another have been forgotten over the years. A film no one ever really talks about when reminiscing about their favorite Holiday movies is one that I believe should be re-examined and every one who hasn't seen it should really do themselves a favor and check it out this Christmas season. I'm talking about Preston Sturges' Remember the night.

The film is a prefect combination of genres, working both as a touching drama and a heartwarming romantic comedy. The film Features a clever screenplay by the great Preston Sturges, and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in their first film together.

The story revolves around an Assistant District Attorney (MacMurray) who falls in love with the shoplifter he is supposed to be prosecuting (Stanwyck). Feeling sorry that she will have to spend Christmas in jail awaiting trial, he bails her out and takes her to her childhood home in Indiana. After seeing how cold and unwelcoming Stanwyck's mother is, he takes her to his own mother's home, also in Indiana, where Stanwyck is bowled over by the love and affection she encounters. Hanging over both their heads is the realization that they still have to return to the city to resolve the trial. The film was originally released in early January, 1940 to positive reviews. The New York Times raved, "A memorable film, in title and in quality, blessed with an honest script, good direction and sound performances...a drama stated in the simplest human terms of comedy and sentiment, tenderness and generosity... warm, pleasant and unusually entertaining."

Stanwyck and MacMurray would team up on-screen three more times, for Double Indemnity (1944), The Moonlighter (1953) and There's Always Tomorrow (1956).

The performances by both lead actors are fantastic. By the end of the picture we have truly fallen in love with Stanwyck and want nothing more than for her to finally find happiness.
The ending is very unique for a film taking place during the holiday season. Its not a happy joyful celebration like the ending to It's a Wonderful life and A Christmas Carol. What it does offer audiences is a message of hope and a reminder that we can always change for the better.

I really love this film and I was really happy to discover it's been released on DVD as part of the TCM archives collection. If you haven't seen it tune in this Friday at midnight as it airs on TCM as part of their Christmas Classics line up. You'll be glad you did.


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