Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tonight's Movie: A Night to Remember (1943)

"It was a dark and stormy night..." and so naturally a mystery writer and his wife decide to move into a spooky Greenwich Village apartment in A NIGHT TO REMEMBER.

Brian Aherne and Loretta Young play Jeff and Nancy, who have decided to move to Greenwich Village so he can soak up the ambience as inspiration for writing his latest novel. Their basement apartment has no electricity, a crazy housekeeper, a door which sticks at inconvenient moments, a tortoise with ghost-like habits, and most disturbingly, a body in their otherwise charming little garden. Naturally, Jeff and Nancy set out to solve the mystery, and all is neatly resolved within 24 hours.

Despite the spooky atmosphere, it's all played for laughs, with Aherne gamely managing to be both urbane and a klutz, and Young quite amusing as his somewhat ditzy, adoring, and very beautiful wife. It's not a classic, but it's a well-made, enjoyable film which provides pleasant company for the length of its 91-minute run time.

The supporting cast is comprised of a long list of pros who all make it work, including Sidney Toler, Gale Sondergaard, Lee Patrick, Jeff Donnell, Donald MacBride, and George Chandler.

A trivia note: 15 years later the title A NIGHT TO REMEMBER was used for perhaps a better-known film, about the Titanic.

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER was directed by Richard Wallace. The movie was filmed in black and white by Joseph Walker, who shot many Frank Capra films, as well as comedy classics like HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940), HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (1941), and MY SISTER EILEEN (1942).

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER is available on VHS.

The movie has had a Region 2 DVD release in Spain. It will be available on Region 1 DVD in the United States on August 4, 2009, as part of the Icons of Screwball Comedy, Vol. 2 set. The set also includes Young's THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE (1940), which was reviewed here, and two Irene Dunne comedies: THEODORA GOES WILD (1936) and TOGETHER AGAIN (1944).

Volume 1, incidentally, will contain two Jean Arthur and two Rosalind Russell films: Arthur's IF YOU COULD ONLY COOK (1935) and TOO MANY HUSBANDS (1940), and Russell's MY SISTER EILEEN (1942) and SHE WOULDN'T SAY YES (1945).

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies.

Recommended for fans of husband-wife detective comedies.

2021 Update: This film is also now available on DVD as part of a Loretta Young Comedy Triple Feature from Mill Creek and Critics' Choice.


Blogger Moira Finnie said...

I just watched this the other day and found myself (as usual) enchanted by Brian Aherne's gift for comedy, (he wasn't too hard to look at either). I also liked the scene when the moving man developed a paralyzing crush on Loretta Young, who was more relaxed than usual as half of the married pair, despite the farcical elements of the story.

It was great fun seeing Lee Patrick and George Chandler pop up in the cast, though I did have a feeling that Sidney Toler was channeling Charlie Chan, didn't you? How astonishing to see Blanche Yurka as the housekeeper. She was such an extraordinary actress, with quite a stage résumé, it is always a jolt to see Madame De Farge from A Tale of Two Cities (1935) in such small parts.

Btw, I must admit that I was mentally calculating throughout the film exactly how much that beautiful garden apartment in the Village would go for in today's inflated market!

2:12 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Aherne is a lot of fun -- I wish he'd had even more of a film career than he did have. I've enjoyed him in MERRILY WE LIVE (1938) and THE SWAN (1956), and just taped JUAREZ (1939).

I've been collecting Lux Radio Theater shows recently -- I acquired several on LP as a teenager, and now find it's easy to get MP3 files on CDs -- and have found that he is in at least 14 so far. He had a great voice for radio. On the plane flight to England a few weeks ago I helped to set a London mood by listening to Aherne and Loretta Young in a 1946 radio production of THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET.

That scene with the moving man was quite funny -- I enjoyed seeing Young in such a giddy role.

My children have watched lots of Charlie Chan movies in the last year and recognized Toler immediately. He really was a little Chan-esque in this. Recognizing each character actor's face one by one was part of the fun of watching the film.

And that apartment! What a wonderful design. Loved the hallway, the ceilings, the built-in bookcases, and the bedroom opening into the garden...and I definitely covet that stove. When my current stove gives up the ghost, I'd really love a reconditioned stove that looks just like that. :)

Best wishes,

12:34 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

Thanks for this movie recommendation. I DVR-ed this recently on TCM and the kids and I watched it today (Labor Day). We had lots of laughs and we liked that it wasn't truly scary. I liked Brian Aherne a lot and think I'll find more of his work. As Moira Finnie commented, I was also thinking of what a grand sum could now be fetched for that lovely apartment.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

So glad you all enjoyed it too, Mrs. HH! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know.

I really enjoy Brian Aherne. I particularly liked him in THE SWAN (1956) -- he's a member of a royal family who has become a monk, and when he comes to visit he offers wry commentary and advice to the other members of his family. He was also fun in MERRILY WE LIVE (1938), which borrows heavily from MY MAN GODFREY. I'd like to see more of his movies too.

Best wishes,

11:46 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

Thanks for recommending "The Swan". It looks good and I see TCM is showing it on 10/4, so I'll be recording it.

9:16 AM  

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