Remember? (1939)

Sky (Lew Ayres) and Linda (Greer Garson) have had a whirlwind romance, meeting on vacation and soon becoming engaged. Upon returning home, Sky introduces Linda to his best friend, Jeff (Robert Taylor).

In an unintended and awful twist for Sky, Linda and Jeff fall in love and decide to marry, with Linda completely disregarding any plans she had with Sky.

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

But the Linda and Jeff marriage isn’t all peachy, either. Jeff is a bit of a workaholic, and his work puts a strain on their relationship, leading them to want a divorce.

Sky, ever the good friend despite their betrayal of him, decides to use an experimental memory loss potion on his friends in hopes that they’ll forget their troubles and fall in love again.

Norman Z. McLeod directs 1939’s Remember?, and also co-wrote the original story and screenplay along with Corey Ford.

Needless to say, Remember? has a phenomenal cast. Taylor, Ayres and Garson are all fantastic in their roles and play very well off of each other. There are some great supporting performances here, too, including Billie Burke!

On top of the lovely cast, the film has plenty of funny moments to keep the viewer interested. There’s quite a bit of witty dialogue and a few scenes of physical comedy. There are some dull moments scattered throughout the film, but for the most part the humor outweighs them. There is some drama, too, but not of the intense type. Remember? is a fluffy romance at its core.

McLeod and Ford put a twist on the typical “love triangle” formula by tossing memory-altering formula into the mix. Poor Lew Ayres gets his lady stolen by Robert Taylor, but the audience can’t feel too sorry for him. His wacky theories about forgetting and remembering began long before he concocted the potion, and he shared those theories with Linda, actually encouraging her to spend more time with Jeff, at which point she fell for Jeff. His theories backfired on him, and he brought the heartbreak on himself in a way!

The film doesn’t actually delve into the memory potion storyline until well past its halfway mark. At this point the film picks up and becomes even funnier. I wish more of its running time had been dedicated to this subplot, since it’s what makes the film stands out from other romantic comedies. Still, Remember? is entertaining throughout most of its running time, and is definitely worth watching for the performances. Bonus points for Lew Ayres’ amazing 4th wall-breakage at the film’s end.

The score: 3.5/5

2 thoughts on “Remember? (1939)

  1. I just watched this a week or two ago when it ran on TCM. It was cute in a ridiculous way helped by the charisma of Greer Garson and Lew Ayers. I’m very variable on Robert Taylor, he can be stiff and arch and really be a drain on a film at times or a facile light comedic player as he is here. His real strength was comedy although two of his more serious films, Westward the Women and Waterloo Bridge with Vivien Leigh, the actor’s own personal favorite of his films, are excellent and he is excellent in them.


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