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
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.