Love blooms between a sympathetic attorney and the comely shoplifter he has taken home for the Christmas holiday.Love blooms between a sympathetic attorney and the comely shoplifter he has taken home for the Christmas holiday.Love blooms between a sympathetic attorney and the comely shoplifter he has taken home for the Christmas holiday.
I suspect Sturges wanted to deliver a typically cynical social satire; something about how the rigidity of law must inevitably give way to the caprices of love (with a plot boldly swiped from Camille). But Leisen brought to the project all the delicate sentiment that Sturges would have shied away from, and turned Sturges' clever parable into a heart-rending, almost Dickensian Christmas fable.
Just as Sturges was a genius of dry wit, Leisen was a master at tweaking the heart-strings, and of creating a magically timeless mood. (See Death Takes a Holiday, for instance.) So in Remember the Night we have a one-of-a-kind fusion of opposites. What results is a remarkable film: understated and clever, yet emotional and heroic. And somehow, amazingly, both hopeful *and* downbeat.
Remember the Night is one of a handful of absolutely indispensable Christmas classics: it deserves to be counted right alongside It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Carol and The Bishop's Wife. It's less-known than the others doubtless because it's less mystical, less whimsical, and most importantly, because it fails to provide the mandatory Happy Ending. But that's exactly its greatest value.
We've come to set impossible standards for Christmas, and bring only disappointment upon ourselves, year after year. Remember the Night reminds us that Christmas is, after all, just one part of the cycle. It can't magically endow us with Joy Everlasting... but it can allow us a chance to raise our sights just a little bit as our lives tumble inevitably onward into the new year. And that's a *real* miracle, not a storybook fantasy that requires angelic intervention to make it come true.
- Nov 4, 2007