Sleep, My Love (1948)

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Alison Courtland wakes up on a train in the middle of the night. She has no idea where she is, why she’s there or how she got there. The train is headed to Boston, and she has no recollection of getting on it.

Panicking, Alison calls her husband back in New York and makes plans to head home. He blames the whole scenario on one of her “spells” and sets her up to start seeing a psychiatrist, Dr. Rhinehart.

On the flight, Alison meets Bruce Elcott, who falls for her. Upon arrival in New York, Bruce becomes suspicious of Alison’s husband. Knowing how unhappy Alison is in the marriage, he becomes determined to figure out what’s really going on with her and what is causing these “spells” that her husband says she has.

Douglas Sirk directs Sleep, My Love, a 1948 drama starring Claudette Colbert (Alison), Don Ameche (Alison’s husband, Richard) and Robert Cummings (Bruce).

I chose to watch this film for one big reason: Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche together again! I loved the pair in Midnight and was excited to see them in much more dramatic fare.

Sleep, My Love is a film that instantly grips the viewer and doesn’t waste a single second jumping into the action. It opens with a hysterical Alison waking on the train, and these first scenes are quite hectic. Things slow down a bit once Alison makes plans to head for home, but the mystery of it all still weighs heavily on the viewer’s mind.

Is Alison’s husband guilty of causing her “spells?” Who can we trust? Why did she get on the train? Why doesn’t she remember anything? Many of these questions are answered quickly, but even as the film’s mystery dissolves, the story remains very tense.

(Image: Doctor Macro)
(Image: Doctor Macro)

This tense mood is very successfully built and maintained through a steadily paced plot peppered with intense scenes (i.e. Alison’s “episodes”). Even in the calmest scenes, the viewer’s mind is stuck on the drama and on Alison’s predicament.

Tension is also built by the film’s atmosphere. Visual beauty, particularly really fantastic contrast, give the film’s mood a huge boost.

Very good performances are given by all, particularly Colbert and the under-utilized Hazel Brooks. The performances take a back seat, though; this is definitely a plot-driven film more than anything else, and the characters aren’t incredibly deep.

Sleep, My Love is not quite as stylish or extravagant as some of Sirk’s other work, but it’s nice to see something different from him, and the film is highly enjoyable. The score: 3.5/5

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4 thoughts on “Sleep, My Love (1948)

  1. It seems like I’ll have to check this one out. I love Sirk, but I’ve only seen one of his pre-50s films, and this sounds like a great one to see.

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    1. I haven’t seen much of his earlier work either, but I’m trying to seek out more of it because I love his later work so much. I’d love to finish his whole filmography but I’ve been working at it reeeeally slowly because my Barbara Stanwyck project is a higher priority. This one is definitely worth a watch!

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