Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting in New York City. Being that it's her third offense, Lee is brought in to be prosecuted by John Sargent to the full extent of the law. When the trial begins, John Sargent decides to postpone, realizing how hard it is to get a conviction during Christmas time. With John's conscience telling him no one deserves to be in jail for Christmas, he bails Lee out and offers to take her home to her family in Indiana. For a premise which is a little hard to initially swallow, Mitchell Leisen's Remember The Night is a well-constructed, charming and believable romantic comedy that delivers on both dramatic and comedic levels. In that sense, Remember the Night is much like life, seamlessly going from a scene of zany comedy to heartbreaking drama. Lee Leander is a woman who has led a life of theft but as the story unfolds we begin to realize she isn't a bad person, but someone who has made mistakes in her life. While Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray have great chemistry, the characters's contrasting lives is what sets this on-screen relationship apart. In a sequence a little more than halfway through the film we witness both Lee and John returning home to their respective families. While John's family greets him with pure exuberance, Lee is greeted by a cruel mother who has given up on her daughter and wants nothing to do with her. With this stark contrast we begin to realize how different things could have been for Lee if only she was brought up in a loving family. Remember The Night argues that some criminals are merely a product of their environment, urging the viewer to throw away their preconceived notions of individuals and look beyond the surface. It's a heartfelt and graceful script by Preston Sturges which really captures an optimism about humanity which is rarely pulled off so well.
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