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John H. Auer
An elderly woman whose son disappeared years before refuses to move when her apartment building is turned into a college dormitory for male students, as she is convinced that he will return one day. She continues to live in the building after it becomes a dorm, and eventually grows attached to a troubled young student whom she comes to believe is her own grandson. When she finds out that the boy's father will be visiting him, she prepares herself to be reunited with the man she has convinced herself is her long-lost son. Written by
I first saw this film on TV in the late '50s and have never forgotten it. It still haunts, delights, and warms me like no other movie ever has. Republic Pictures had a reputation for churning out forgettable low-budget bottom-of-the-bill quickies. Nothing could be further from the truth. As witness this elegantly-produced, eloquently written, acted and directed tale of an elderly lady who refuses to vacate her room when her apartment building is converted into a college male dormitory. Her reason--her only son had mysteriously disappeared years ago, and she is convinced he will one day come back to her. When the conversion indeed takes place, the lady in question remains--and becomes a kind of den-mother to its randy young male occupants (among them, look for a very young and appealing Peter Lawford!) One of the students is troubled and rebellious--but when he and his girlfriend develop a lovingly attachment to the elderly lady, she becomes convinced he is indeed her grandson. And with the Christmas holidays approaching, and the boy's father coming to see him, the lonely old lady makes preparations to be at long last reunited with her son (whom she is convinced is the boy's father). But then . . . I have no idea why this perfect jewel of a movie has fallen into oblivion. Perhaps the inferior re-make "Johnny Trouble" (1957) yanked it into obscurity. The version available to TV in the '50s was cut by 30 minutes by its syndicator. I managed to rent a 16mm print of the cut version 20 years ago, and my dinner guests were enthralled. That fine, forgotten actress Mabel Paige gives a performance of exquisite subtlety and understatement. The supporting players are equally outstanding. What could easily have been a treacly, sentimental weep-wallow is instead fresh, smart, witty--and undeniably heartrending. "Someone To Remember" earns its emotional resonance, and demands to be seen--either on cable-TV, VHS or DVD--to a new generation of discerning viewers. This masterpiece of yearning with an O'Henry twist is based on a story by Ben Ames Williams, who, not so incidentally, wrote the novel which inspired the smash-hit "Leave Her to Heaven". Far from a mother-love tearjerker, "Someone to Remember" quietly cries out to be remembered. And relished. And savored. And if you suddenly find yourself trying to curtail your tears days after you've seen it, isn't that what great and lasting movie-making is all about?
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