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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm trying to think if I ever saw a film starring Claudette Colbert
that I didn't like. None that I can remember, and this film is no
exception. It's an utterly charming story of a school teacher with 2
men -- an elementary school boy that has a crush on her, and a
fellow-teacher who marries her. Along the way, the teacher almost loses
her job when she spends a summer in the same resort (gasp!) as her
future husband. A scandal is averted when the male teacher resigns, but
before too long they secretly marry. Eventually, the young boy grows up
to be a presidential candidate, and the husband disappears in World War
I. At the beginning of the film, the teacher is trying to meet the
presidential candidate to wish him well, and at the end of the film she
succeeds. In between, the back-story is told via flashback.
Claudette Colbert is wonderful as the teacher...but she was always wonderful! John Payne was excellent as her future husband, and Payne is an actor who may not have been given his due; always dependable. Shepperd Strudwick plays the boy as an adult, while Douglas Croft plays him exceptionally well as the boy.
While I can't quite say this is a "great" film, it's certainly a very, very good one. It only finally popped up on TCM very recently.
REMEMBER THE DAY (20th Century-Fox, 1941), directed by Henry King,
bears no connection nor is it a sequel to Paramount's comedy-drama,
REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray.
Though it's not hard to confuse these similar movie titles, they are as
different as night and day. For this production, starring Claudette
Colbert, on loan-out assignment from her home-base of Paramount
Pictures, it offers her an occasional opportunity to break away from
her assortment of amusing comedies to something on a different level,
that of a devoted school teacher with recollections of her past, and
the one student who took part of those fine memories. After viewing
REMEMBER THE DAY, there's no question it was a box-office success.
Through the passage of time, however, the film has somehow slipped into
obscurity, and quite undeservedly. Though many of the featured players,
with the exception of John Payne, are not quite the marque names one
would expect, the sole focus is on Colbert from start to finish, in a
role worth remembering, even for just a day.
Set in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, June 25, 1940, the story opens with a front page newspaper spread reading, "National big-wigs arrive for Dewey Roberts banquet." Moments later, Nora Tindel (Claudette Colbert), a middle-aged schoolteacher, comes to the Mayflower Hotel where a crowd of people await for the guest of honor, the presidential candidate, Senator Dewey Roberts, who happened to be one of Miss Tindel's former students. After being escorted to a seat near the secret elevator where Dewey Roberts is to come out, the orchestra that had been playing to the popular Glenn Miller song, "Chattanooga Choo Choo," switches to Dewey's favorite song, "Back Home Again in Indiana." As Miss Tindel listens to the music, she recollects to the day she met the future senator, Friday, April 14, 1916, in the classroom of Auburn Grammar School in Indiana where she fills in for a Miss Fitch for the rest of the semester. Being a new teacher, Miss Tindel starts her career knowing her students, especially the somewhat rebellious Dewey Roberts (Douglas Croft), named after Admiral George Dewey of the United States Navy. Student and teacher first come to disagreement when Miss Tindel prepares on taking her class to the matinée of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" followed by a picnic the very Saturday of the upcoming baseball game against Rome as coached by gym teacher, Dan Hopkins (John Payne). Eventually the conflicting events come to mutual terms, leading to a fine relationship between teacher and student and their interest and knowledge of ships (Miss Tindel, daughter of a sea captain, raised in the whaling colony of New Bedford, Massachusetts), and a romance that blossoms between Miss Tindel and Mr. Hopkins. After learning Nora and Dan spent the summer together at Willow Springs, Mr. Steele (Francis Pierlot), the school principal, makes demands on their dismissal. However, Dan resigns in order to have Nora retain her teaching position, a job she so loves. Later, Nora and Dan's secret marriage causes friction between the jealous Dewey and his favorite teacher. After a few more incidents depicted in Miss Tindel's life, and whatever became of her husband, the story moves forward to the present day as Nora awaits for her glimpse of Dewey Roberts, and a heartfelt conclusion not to be missed.
REMEMBER THE DAY, based on the play by Philip Higley and Philip Dunning, is a warm, sensitive story that plays with warmth and conviction. As much as the idea of teacher being reunited with former student now in public office might seem original, a little known gem titled GRAND OLD GIRL (RKO Radio, 1935) starring May Robson, consisted a similar concept but not the exact story. In it, Robson plays the elderly school teacher who's reunited with former student, the president of the United States. Though Shepperd Strudwick, credited as John Shepperd, gets third billing in the cast listing as the adult Dewey Roberts, much of the story belongs to Douglas Croft playing the same character at age 13. A natural child actor, best known for playing Lou Gehrig as a boy in THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1942), and George M. Cogan as a boy in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942), whose character grows to become Gary Cooper and James Cagney respectively, he's not only given more to do here, but gives an excellent performance all around. The fact that Croft and Sheppard nearly resemble one another makes their characters even more passable. Another bonus that makes REMEMEBR THE DAY worth recommending is the close-to-accurate hair styles and clothing for its actors depicted in the 1916-17 era as opposed to some movies set in another time frame having its actors costumed in modern-day fashion. A worthy offering, especially from former school teachers with fond memories of their former students, especially one who stands out among the others, leaving one to wonder where are they now? Other members in the cast include Ann Todd (Kate Hill, a fellow student with a crush on Dewey); Frieda Inescort (Ann Hill, as a woman); Jane Seymour (Dewey's mother); Harry Hayden (Dewey's father); Billy Dawson (Steve Hill); George Ernest (Bill Tower, the hotel bellboy and former Miss Tindal student) Anne Revere (Nadine Price); among others.
Not shown regularly on commercial television since the 1970s, and never distributed to home video but available on DVD since 2013 by Cinema Archives, REMEMBER THE DAY did get the time of day with broadcasts on numerous cable channels, including Cinemax (1986), American Movie Classics (1991-92), Fox Movie Channel, and eventually Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: August 18, 2014). Henry King, an underrated movie director, through his fine direction, provides a first-rate production where its theme song, "Till We Meet Again" would have any first-time viewer thinking to one-self whenever REMEMBER THE DAY should be available for cable TV viewing again. (****)
Henry King did some masterworks: Stella Dallas, Tol'able David, Alexander Ragtime Band, Ramona, etc., but also some impersonal films (The Black Swan, King of the Kyber rifles, etc.). I think that "Remember the day" lays in between these categories, and I am a bit confused by its positive reviews in IMDb. First of all, there is no chemistry between Colbert and Payne. Here, Payne overacts and looks misplaced as a romantic hero (think of his character portrayed by Power or Fonda). We all think of Payne, instead, as the cynical heavy in the films of Phil Karlson or Allan Dwan. Besides, too much time and sugar is dedicated to the romance between he a she, and too little time to the love of the boy Dewey for his teacher, not to speak of the awkward and abrupt final scene and the horrible actor ¿John Shepperd? who portrays adult Dewey. The direction of Henry King is, except in that final scene, smooth and fluid as ever, but the problems of the film are Payne and the script. The character of Dewey, mainly adult Dewey, should had been more developed.
The depiction of the characters being dramatically more "aged" than we'd expect today is not an error. In those days people DID age more... but more importantly, they looked older than our "seniors" of today. The thinking in those days was once you are an adult you act and look like one. It was an outdated attitude, true, but none the less, it is how they "thought". I remember my own mother at age 38 in the 60s acted like a woman of 70 would act today...and also the way she "looked" as well. I remember my older relatives of the 60s wouldn't get on a bicycle because it was for "kids". That was an ignorant way of thinking, but it was how they thought. This movie was right on for the times. Sometimes you have to be more open to "others" views of things before you draw a conclusion and form an opinion that you state on this website.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was a sweet film about romance during WW I, and I happened to see
on a movie channel while staying at a hotel recently. The acting was
good, but I am surprised at the accolades of other reviewers. The plot
was sort of simple, but my main problem was the ending. So I guess this
is a spoiler, although other reviewers have mentioned how it ends.
The story begins in 1916, when Colbert is a very young school teacher, probably early 20s. Her student who is going to be the presidential candidate is about 10 or 12. Now at the end, they say that a quarter of a century has passed. That's 25 years. The movie was made in 1941, so that would be just about right. However, Colbert is now an elderly woman, complete with these awful glasses and gray hair in a bun. Her student, who is now the presidential candidate, is a middle aged man with graying hair. His wife, who was also Colbert's student, is an overweight middled aged woman who looks about 50.
Uh, excuse me, but if Colber was about 23 at the start, let's do the math. Now she is 48 years old--hardly a dottering old bag who looks like she's ready for a nursing home. Her students were not that much younger than her, and both of them would still be quite young at age 35.
What were the producer and director thinking? Didn't anyone else notice this? It's also a little hard to imagine that by age 35, especially in that time period, that the former student would be running for president.
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