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Remember?(1939)

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teaser Remember? (1939)

In Remember? (1939), MGM teamed one of its biggest stars, Robert Taylor, with one of its newest ones, Greer Garson, in a romantic comedy about a couple that marries in haste, heads for divorce, and re-discovers their love thanks to an amnesia potion that not only makes them forget why they were divorcing, but also revives the attraction that drew them together in the first place.

MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer had seen the Irish-born Garson in a play in London, and immediately offered her a contract. He decided to groom her to be the next Norma Shearer, and cast her in the small role of Kathy, who marries the shy schoolmaster in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939), and dies early in the film. Garson made a strong impression in the role, and the studio rushed her into Remember?. It would be her first American-made film - Goodbye, Mr. Chips had been made in England, through MGM's British studios.

In Remember?, Garson proved to be as adept a comedienne as she was a dramatic actress, projecting great warmth and dignity, even when the plot complications put her in undignified situations, such as wallowing in the mud with Taylor. Taylor was stalwart and handsome, which was about all the script required him to be. The juiciest roles went to Lew Ayres, as Garson's jilted fianc, the inventor who sets the preposterous amnesia plot line in motion, and Billie Burke, in one of her trademark fluttery matron roles.

But the film didn't do much for anybody's career, and didn't do well at the box office or with the critics. "We feel sure that Miss Garson will yet justify the high hopes which her first appearance excited, but in some other vehicle," wrote New York Times critic Frank Nugent, who also complained that she was so "formidably glamoured," in the MGM style, that "one is tempted to say of her...'Goodbye, Mrs. Chips.'" Taylor, who had had two flops in a row, made it three for three with Remember?. But better times were just ahead for both stars. In her next film, Pride and Prejudice (1940) Garson was ideally cast, and the film was a great success. (Interestingly, Norma Shearer had turned down the role.) Taylor likewise rebounded with Waterloo Bridge (1940), which was a great popular and critical success. Throughout the 1940s, both were among MGM's top stars, and Garson won an Academy Award for Mrs. Miniver (1942), another Shearer reject. That role would define the Garson film persona as MGM's Great Lady. Only rarely would she get the chance to kick up her heels and play a screwball heroine, as she did in Remember?.

Director: Norman Z. McLeod
Producer: Milton Bren
Screenplay: Corey Ford, Norman Z. McLeod
Cinematography: George Folsey
Editor: Harold F. Kress
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: Edward Ward
Principal Cast: Robert Taylor (Jeff Holland), Greer Garson (Linda Bronson), Lew Ayres (Sky Ames), Billie Burke (Mrs. Bronson), Reginald Owen (Mr. Bronson), Henry Travers (Judge Milliken).
BW-83m. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri

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