Toronto Film Society presented A Night to Remember (1942) on Monday, February 22, 2016 in a double bill with Fast and Loose as part of the Season 68 Monday Evening Film Buff Series, Programme 5.
Production Company: Columbia Pictures. Producer: Samuel Bischoff. Director: Richard Wallace. Story by Kelley Roos. Screenplay by: Richard Flournoy and Jack Henley. Music by: Werner R. Heymann. Cinematographer: Joseph Walker. Film Editor: Charles Nelson. Art Director: Lionel Banks.
Cast: Loretta Young (Nancy Troy), Brian Aherne (Jeff Troy aka Jeff Yort), Jeff Donnell (Anne Stafford Carstairs), William Wright (Scott Carstairs), Sidney Toler (Inspector Hankins), Gale Sondergaard (Mrs. Devoe), Donald MacBride (Bolling), Lee Patrick (Polly Franklin), Don Costello (Eddie Turner), Blanche Yurka (Mrs. Salter), Richard Gaines (Lingle), James Burke (Pat Murphy).
A Night to Remember was a film to forget. Following the more successful footsteps of the previous year’s My Sister Eileen, this comedy-thriller was also set in a Greenwich village basement, starred Brian Aherne, not as an editor this time, but as a writer, and also featured Jeff Donnell as the married occupant of an upstairs flat. Top-cast, though, was Loretta Young, who, concerned that hubbie Aherne only writes thrillers, persuades him to move into New York’s Greenwich Village (No. 13, Gay Street, to be precise) in the hope that these more romantic surroundings will inspire him to write a love story for a change. When, however, the body of a dead man is found in their backyard, her best-laid plans go awry as Aherne hangs up his typewriter in order to indulge in a spot of amateur sleuthing. Helping to divert attention away from the rather mundane proceedings in the Richard Flournoy-Jack Henley screenplay (story by Kelley Roos) was a thoroughly professional cast that included Sidney Toler (taking time off from his Charlie Chan character) as a police inspector and Blanche Yurka as a nutty charwoman.
There is no copyright on film titles so this should not be confused with the 1958 British film about the Titanic. The Motion Picture Association of America registers film titles but it isn’t a copyright or trademark. It is a non-governmental system specific to the motion picture industry. This A Night to Remember was directed by Richard Wallace (August 26, 1894 – November 3, 1951) who worked in silent and sound films from 1925 to 1949.
The film stars Brian Aherne and Loretta Young as a mystery writer and his wife trying to solve a murder when a corpse turns up in their New York City apartment. It is similar in theme to the Thin Man series and television shows Glynis and Hart to Hart in which an attractive couple work together to solve mysteries. The supporting cast includes many familiar actors including Sidney Toler as a police inspector, Gale Sondergaard as a secretive landlady and Lee Patrick as a victim of blackmail.
Lee Patrick is probably best known for her role in John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941) as Effie Perine, Sam Spade’s secretary. She had a career in stage, film and television that lasted from 1922 to 1975. She was married to writer Tom Wood from 1937 to her death in 1982. Her husband wrote an unflattering piece on Louella Parsons that the influential columnist did not like. This is said to have kept Ms. Patrick from achieving top billing and kept her in mostly B films. In spite of this, Ms. Patrick delivered many fine performances and created memorable characters during her long career. She reprised her role of Effie Perine in the 1975 comedy The Black Bird. George Segal played a private investigator Same Spade Jr. and Ms. Patrick was quite snarky as his secretary.
Her stage career was from 1922 to 1939 and she worked with fine actors including Humphrey Bogart, Claudette Colbert, Thelma Ritter and Thomas Mitchell. Her first film was an early talkie Strange Cargo (1929). She made her next film in 1935, The Casino Murder Case for MGM. In that she co-starred with Leo G. Carroll who she would work with two decades later in the television show Topper. In her next film after The Maltese Falcon, she appeared in a leading role as an intelligent, crime-solving nurse in The Nurse’s Secret. Among her other films are the classics: Now Voyager, Mildred Pierce, The Snake Pit, Vertigo, Auntie Mame, Pillow Talk, Summer and Smoke and the fantasy film 7 Faces of Doctor Lao.
Her television credits include a recurring role as Henrietta Topper in Topper (1953-1955) and as Ida Lupino’s mother in Mr. Adams and Eve (1957-1958). She made guest appearances in many television shows in the 1950’s and 60’s including I Married Joan, The Abbot and Costello Show, The Rifleman, The Real McCoys, 77 Sunset Strip, Wagon Train, The Untouchables, Hazel and The Donna Reed Show. She also did voice work in Alvin and the Chipmunks. Without a doubt she was a versatile talent. Lee Patrick died from a heart seizure the day before her 81st birthday. She was survived by her husband of 45 years. They had no children.
Notes compiled and written by Bruce Whittaker