Classic movie site with rare images (no web grabs!), original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Friday, June 13, 2014

When Old-Fashioned Mysteries Were Shedding Their Skins ...


Downright Weird Is Whale's Remember Last Night? (1935)

Remember Last Night? Takes Back Seat Behind
 Stage Fun in Cleveland
There is a mechanism in us that is tripped when mysteries become too complex to follow. Where do you go from utter plot confusion once it sets in? For me, there is refuge of style or characters, whodunits in the 30's often rich with both. The form had been reinvented a year before Remember Last Night? with The Thin Man, latter's blend of humor/sophistication making detection forever secondary to smart dialogue and flippant response to mayhem. Cake could fall, however, where wit was displaced by smugness, that last being point of arrows aimed by disapproving trade and fan press at Remember Last Night?. "Straining for smartness" was how Variety put it, while Picture Play wondered how a picture could be "so misguided." Most agreed that sets and design were an almost saving grace, even as occupied by "the most irritating group of characters that ever tried to ape those in The Thin Man."


We watch today for James Whale as director, pleasure had in linking Remember Last Night? with aspects of his celebrated horror pictures. Old dark housing of previous occupancy is replaced by deco vastness that looks to have broken Universal's bank, though James Curtis says in his authoritative Whale bio that costs came to apx. $460K, even with a $75K overrun and shooting past schedule. Something makes me doubt they got that back, as Uni had tough enough time breaking even with pics costing half so much, and Remember Last Night? wasn't star-laden in the Thin Man sense of Bill Powell/Myrna Loy as leads. Borrowed from Metro Robert Young had been put to B's at his home lot, and Edward Arnold was being uncertainly floated as a character star in wake of his Diamond Jim, also for Universal. Young and screen spouse Constance Cummings would, in any case, be among first of a long line in ersatz Nick and Noras, every factory in town intent on developing their own Thin Man brand.

Among Oddities in Remember Last Night? --- an Impromptu Blackface Party

Once you've accepted these people as obnoxious and not a little insufferable, Remember Last Night? becomes fascinating for just that --- how could a cast regard itself so adorable (and performances do smack of great self-satisfaction) for such off-putting conduct as breakage of glassware (their idea of uproarious), abuse of servants (how did that sit with '35 viewers? --- negative fan mag response suggests not well), and non-stop tippling, that last an element for which the show is best remembered, if indeed, it's remembered at all. To difficulty of seeing Remember Last Night?, there is gone missing video status (never released) and barely a glimpse at TCM where it's been shown maybe twice, and not for years since. Here then, is one for Whale completists and students of odd behavior in 30's movies. Curtis Harrington, a Whale friend, would say that the director had creative control of all his Universal projects up to The Road Back, which came a couple seasons after Remember Last Night? and started Whale on downward skid. What his films revealed was a singular view of life and people, more so perhaps with the chiller stuff than something more mainstream like Remember Last Night?, but where Whale was in charge, nothing was mainstream, and this one in its way is as bizarre as any monster show he devised.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dan Oliver said...

Tried to watch this once on TCM but had to give up. I like Whale, but these are among the most obnoxious and unfunny characters I've ever spent time with. Just wasn't worth it.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I acquired a DVD of this 4 years ago, watched it once, then never again. Each time I think I'd like to revisit it, I remember how much I disliked everybody in it.

I'm actually more intrigued by one of the live acts at its run at the Cleveland Palace. What could be a Radium Illusion?

3:56 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Way, way back in the day, REMEMBER LAST NIGHT? was the first truly rare feature I had acquired for my humble 16mm collection. Watched it several times over a fast few weeks, then sold it for what in those days seemed like a wonderful profit. Decades have passed and I have yet to see it again. Would loved to have kept it, but back in those days, the only way to maintain and grow a movie library while raising a family on two tiny paychecks was to constantly sell and trade everything nonessential. Not sure where the reel break was, but at one showing for friends I remember a silent non-reaction from the crowd at whatever was happening when I turned off the projector mid-show. Until my brother piped up. "Geez, what a bunch of assholes!"

4:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016