When most people think of Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, "Double Indemnity" naturally comes to mind. But four years before they made that classic, they teamed up for a charming film of an entirely different nature that is becoming recognized in its own way as one of the best holiday films ever made.
It's called "Remember The Night," and while it has a Christmas feel to it, the film actually premiered in January 1940 (what was Paramount thinking?). It has a splendid pedigree; the script was written by Preston Sturges, shortly before he went into directing his own films, and was directed by Mitchell Leisen. (Sturges was never a fan of Leisen, one reason he decided to enter directing himself.)
The film is a romance, with some (subtle) comedy and some drama. Stanwyck's a Manhattan shoplifter, MacMurray the prosecutor who decides to have her trial postponed because it's hard to get a conviction near Christmas. Yet he feels sorry for her, arranges for her bail and takes her home to his mother in Indiana for Christmas (due to the Indiana reference, some maintain Sturges wrote this script with Carole Lombard in mind). They fall in love...but what happens now with the trial?
Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will give you not one, but two opportunities to catch this film: at 11:15 p.m. (Eastern) tonight, and seven hours later at 6:15 a.m. Christmas morning. So whether you open your presents Christmas eve or Christmas morn, this wonderful film can play in the background.