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I'll Never Forget You

I'll Never Forget You(1951)

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An intriguing, time-traveling romantic fantasy, I'll Never Forget You (1951) stars Tyrone Power as an American atomic scientist in 1951 London who lives in a beautiful old house he has inherited. He keeps it furnished and designed just as it looked two centuries earlier. Power believes that time is nonlinear and that one can theoretically visit any period. Thanks to a bolt of lightning (not to mention some brief atomic exposure and the strong possibility that he is mentally unbalanced), Power indeed soon finds himself transported to eighteenth-century London, where he meets his ancestors and finds himself falling in love with Ann Blyth.

Generally, however, things don't go too well for Power in the past. He's not good at hiding his knowledge of people he hasn't yet met or of events that haven't yet occurred, and as a result he frightens everyone around him. When he "invents" all sorts of devices including electricity, a trip to the loony bin at Bedlam becomes a genuine threat. At its heart, though, I'll Never Forget You is a romance, and a touching one at that, as Power and Blyth experience a love similar to that in the later film Somewhere in Time (1980) and to Jack Finney's novel Time and Again.

As it turns out, I'll Never Forget You is a remake of an earlier film, Berkeley Square (1933), which starred Leslie Howard and was based on a play by John L. Balderston, the famous writer of atmospheric classics like The Mummy (1932), Mad Love (1935) and Gaslight (1944). Shot by renowned cinematographer Georges Perinal, the film's present-day sections are in black-and-white while the past is in Technicolor. For years, the movie was only available (when it was available at all) in 100% black-and-white; Fox Home Entertainment has found color elements and restored them to the film but unfortunately has not really cleaned up the color image, which looks quite murky and faded.

The studio has issued I'll Never Forget You as part of a new 10-film collection of Tyrone Power's work. None of the ten is an outright, top-shelf classic, but they all do provide a revealing look into the stardom process of the studio era. The earliest title here, Girls' Dormitory (1936), features Power's first credited role, a brief appearance toward the end of the picture, and one can sense the impression he must have made on audiences. Five more titles come from the following four years, and in these, Power's charisma and appeal are undeniable, especially in his light-yet-enjoyable pairings with Loretta Young; both were at the peaks of their attractiveness. In other movies here, one can see Power co-starring with Linda Darnell, Dorothy Lamour, Joan Fontaine, Gene Tierney and Anne Baxter.

Not long after I'll Never Forget You, Power ended his Fox contract and became a freelance actor. He had grown increasingly bitter because the studio hadn't been providing him with challenging roles. Film historian Jeanine Basinger has written (in The Star Machine [Knopf, 2007]) that none of the movies he'd made since 1947 had been "truly distinguished" although they consistently performed well at the box office.

"Enthusiasm for film work," writes Basinger, "began to die inside Power. His disappointment showed on-screen. He often seemed to be walking through his roles. Sadly for his ambitions and talents, his disillusionment affected his work and he began to look like an aging movie star whose ability was limited... He became less than he was." Indeed, Power does seem tired in I'll Never Forget You; there's a spark of some sort missing from his performance.

Also in the cast, and stealing every scene he's in, is the fine British actor Dennis Price, who had recently starred in the Ealing gem Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). Here he clearly relishes lines like, "I had thought that you would arrive in buckskins, or whatever the fashion is in - what do you call the colonies now?"

Michael Rennie is on hand as a colleague of Power's in the present day. Two months before this movie opened, Rennie could be seen in theaters as Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), the role for which he will always be remembered. The English actor spent the 1950s under contract to Fox, and he and Power became very good friends, co-starring in three movies together. (This was the second.)

Director Roy Baker replaced Carol Reed at the last minute, and Ann Blyth was a mid-shooting replacement for British actress Constance Fox, who fell ill after herself replacing Jean Simmons. Blyth is costumed and lit quite beautifully and delivers a sensitive performance.

I'll Never Forget You, which is also widely known by its British title, The House in the Square, was filmed in London where Power had just completed a six-month run of Mister Roberts on the West End stage.

While there are no extras for this particular movie other than production stills, there are a few sprinkled into the rest of the collection in the form of documentary featurettes as well as some deleted scenes for Power's Café Metropole (1937). All in all, it's a very worthwhile set for fans of the star.

For more information about I'll Never Forget You, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order I'll Never Forget You, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeremy Arnold