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Remember the Night (December 3, 2009)

Director Mitchell Leisen was born in Menominie, Michigan in 1898. He started as an art director in films in 1920 and by 1933 was directing. His work at Paramount included romantic comedies starring Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, and Jean Arthur. Remember the Night was written by Preston Sturges, who, after this film, became a director, as well as a writer, at Paramount, and made an astonishing series of comedies, some of which we’ve seen already at the Library. Sturges was said to have remarked that he came to Hollywood thinking that writers were the most important people on the team since they made up the stories. When he got there, he discovered that writers were viewed as interchangeable, dime-a-dozen cogs in the wheel, and directors were seen as the most important people. He decided to become a director, because he said it was easier for him to direct than to try to change a whole social system. Sturges had written scripts for Leisen to direct before, including Easy Living, which we’ll see later this winter. It is said that Leisen considerably shortened Sturges’ original script.

The movie was made from July to September, 1939 and was released on the 19th of January, 1940. Barbara Stanwyck plays a jewel thief, and Fred MacMurray plays the district attorney prosecuting her. I don’t want to say anymore. The comic mayhem that Sturges is famous for inflicting on his characters ensues. Stanwyck’s costumes are by Edith Head, and she is photographed by Ted Tetzlaff, who was known as the cinematographer that more than one leading actress had to have. It is a charming Christmas movie, and I hope you enjoy watching it with me tonight.