I'LL BE SEEING YOU: DVD
Zach (Joseph Cotton) and Mary (Ginger Rogers) meet as strangers on a train and strike up a nervous flirtation. Zach is an army sergeant with nowhere to go except anywhere to recover from the trauma of war. On a whim, he leaves the train when Mary reaches her destination ... they are lonely people and they agree to share a dinner together sometime. Unwilling to admit the truth, Mary tells her new friend that she is a "travelling saleslady" but when she visits her aunt (Spring Byington) we learn that Mary is on Christmas parole from jail. Mary doesn't want her past to interfere with any possible future with Zach but secrets are no longer secrets once the truth is shared.
Review by Keith Lofthouse:
In the same year that Gone With The Wind producer David O. Selznick took all of 172 minutes to film the gargantuan WW2 weeper Since You Went Away, he polished off this modest romantic trifle in less than half the time. In some ways the films seem almost interchangeable with Temple, Cotten and a teenage John Derek (then billed as Dare Harris), appearing in both, which were set at around Christmas sometime during the war. I'll Be Seeing You began life as a radio drama under the dreary title of Double Furlough and was to star Joan Fontaine who then had a falling-out with Selznick after she wisely refused to make the picture. Mary Marshall, after all, isn't much of a part.
After serving three years of a six year jail term (the reason for her incarceration is not revealed until mid-picture) she is released on good behaviour to spend 10 days of Yuletide with a kindly aunt (Spring Byington), her husband (Tom Tully) and her teenage daughter Barbara (Shirley Temple). Mary wants to forget her troubled past and enjoy a simple married life, with a family just like her aunt's. But she seems almost desperately drawn to Zach, the shell-shocked soldier whose head is frequently in a spin; who constantly apologises for his odd behaviour and more often than not has the demeanour of an axe murderer. Standing in the way of whirlwind matrimony and the mending of Zach and Mary's broken dreams are the secrets that both are afraid to tell.
We are made privy to Zach's instability when he reveals his thoughts in an opening monologue: "Don't get worried, Zach," he mutters, "the bayonet wound is all healed up, but the wound in your mind is going to take a little more time." Mary, on the other hand, holds back, not wishing to push the jittery soldier over the edge again. There's a crisis of the heart when blabbermouth Barbara blurts it all out and sends Zach packing on the first train out of town.
We are left to wonder, briefly, whether these two people in need will ever embrace again but we take comfort in the knowledge that we don't really care. The performances, however, exceed the material: Cotten convincingly reveals the nervous tics and twitches of his "neuro-psychosis"; Rogers is effectively watchful and apprehensive until her maternal juices start to flow. Temple is still a little too cute in what was billed as her first adult role. Selznick wasn't happy with her key scene and made her shoot it all again, with an uncredited George Cukor directing. Selznick borrowed Irving Kahal and Sammy Fain's sentimental song which gave the film a ready-made title, but the song is poorly used and barely enhances the mood, let alone the memory.
Published July 14, 2005
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I'LL BE SEEING YOU: DVD (PG)
CAST: Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple
DIRECTOR: William Dieterle
SCRIPT: Marion Parsonnet
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
PRESENTATION: Aspect Ratio 4 x 3. Dolby Digital
SPECIAL FEATURES: None
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: MRA Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: April, 2005