Remember the Night (1940)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jan 19, 1940 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 86 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

One of the finest -- and least known -- Christmas movies, Remember the Night is also arguably director Mitchell Leisen's best film. It benefits immensely from a sterling Preston Sturges screenplay that manages to mine all the emotion and sentiment from its "different worlds" story without every falling into bathos. Needless to say, the screenplay is also chock-full of the incisive wit, ear for a nifty turn of phrase, and insightful character studies that are a trademark of Sturges' later classic comedies. He is one of the few writers of the period who could have skated as close to the edge of soapy melodrama as the twin homecoming sequences without falling over. The film's heartwarming tugs are genuine, achieved with a bare minimum of manipulation. Leisen deserves credit for serving the material so adeptly. If the first courtroom scene is a bit awkward, it's the only place in the film where the director falters. He is helped, of course, by the irreplaceable Barbara Stanwyck. As usual, the actress is curiously radiant, a tough girl whose softness is totally believable. Fred MacMurray is a perfect foil for her, strong but tender, a man whose niceness is never cloying and whose toughness is tempered with mercy. The rest of the cast gives excellent support, especially Beulah Bondi, Elizabeth Patterson, and Sterling Holloway. An excellent film, Night deserves a place in the holiday pantheon beside such better-known titles as Miracle on 34th Street and The Bells of St. Mary's.