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Joe E. Brown,
William Collier Jr.
After a night of wild partying at a friend's house, a couple wake up to discover the party's host has been murdered in his bed. A detective is called in to investigate, but his investigation is hampered by the fact that the partiers drank so much the previous night, nobody remembers anything that happened. Written by
This is one of the more bizarre screwball comedy/mysteries to emerge from the studios in the wake of the detecting/drinking classic, The Thin Man. It's as if somebody said, "let's show what jobless rich people would act like if they really drank as much as Nick and Nora Charles do and tried to solve a mystery." And then someone said -- "let's get James Whale to do it! After all, Bride of Frankenstein really is, at heart, a comedy!" And, the resulting film, "Remember Last Night?", is, at heart, a horror film -- perhaps the scariest film about drunks made before The Lost Weekend. The film follows the drinking and detecting adventures of Robert Young and Constance Cummings, who, after a night of wild partying and obnoxious, boorish drunken behavior, find that their host has been murdered, and that they can't remember what they did the night before. Robert fortunately has the sense to call in his old friend Edward Arnold, who helps Young solve the mystery.
The mystery plot -- which isn't too bad -- really is subordinate here to the setting, characters, set design. Most of the "comedy" -- delivered by characters who are plastered and who are extremely insensitive to those around them -- is rude and, in one scene, incredibly racist. Anyone who spent any time in a frat house, or with the privileged fellow who has had about four or five too many, would recognize the "comedy". This unfunniness actually seems to be a deliberate choice by the director. (As is the cold and ugly set design.) Props here to Arthur Treacher, who plays (surprise) Robert Young's long suffering butler. He and Edward Arnold seem to be the only characters who haven't lost their humanity to drink. Suitably, the close of the movie belongs to Treacher, and the way Young and his buddies react to him.
This is an easier movie to respect than to like. It would make an intriguing double feature with La Dolce Vita.
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