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William A. Seiter
Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He postpones the trial because it is hard to get a conviction at Christmas time. But he feels sorry for her and arranges for her bail, and ends up taking her home to his mother for Christmas. Surrounded by a loving family (in stark contrast to Lee's own family background) they fall in love. This creates a new problem: how do they handle the upcoming trial? Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Filmed July-September 1939, and bears a 1939 copyright statement on the title card, even though it was not actually copyrighted until January 1940. See more »
The street sign on the corner of the shop where Stanwyck tries to pawn the stolen bracelet reads "3rd Avenue" and "West 54th Street" in NYC. With 3rd Avenue being east of Fifth Avenue, which divides east from west Manhattan, the street sign should read "East 54th Street." See more »
Watching Remember The Night I remembered something else that audiences might have forgotten in 1940 in seeing this film on screen. The District Attorney of New York County was one Thomas E. Dewey who was definitely not one for mixing business with pleasure. If one of his Assistant District Attorneys went bail for a prisoner he was prosecuting and took her home for Christmas and across a few state lines to boot, that man would not have had a job and Dewey wouldn't have cared about reasons of love.
But with a script by Preston Sturges and direction by Mitchell Leisen you could forget about reality and concentrate on Christmas romance. Leisen assembled a great cast of character players in this very charming comedy/drama. And you can't miss with leads like Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in the first of four films they did together.
MacMurray's the ADA who's prosecuting Stanwyck for shoplifting and this ain't her first offense. But a combination of her beauty and charm and one flannelmouth defense attorney has him feeling sorry for her and then going her bail and taking her home because, after all it's Christmas.
They have an eventful drive to Indiana where they both coincidentally hail from and MacMurray himself winds up a fugitive from a speed trap in a hilarious sequence. And the two see the kind of homes each came from, something that prosecutors and criminals don't often see from each other's point of view.
Beulah Bondi and Elizabeth Patterson play MacMurray's mother and aunt and are quite the contrast to Georgia Caine who is Stanwyck's cold hearted mom. Spencer Charters does a good job as the speed trap judge in Pennsylvania.
My favorite however is Stanwyck's attorney Willard Robertson who is really carried away with himself as her lawyer. He's giving her a defense on the shoplifting charge that Clarence Darrow gave Leopold&Loeb. Man does love to hear himself talk. But his talk keeps the trial over the holidays allowing cupid to work.
Stanwyck and Sturges became friends and he confided in her that he would be directing as well as writing soon and next year he might just have a project perfect for her. The project turned out to be The Lady Eve according to a recent biography of Stanwyck.
Remember The Night is a charming film by some charm masters. But I suspect that Thomas E. Dewey probably hated it.
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