Cast: Ginger Roger, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Templer, Spring Byington, Tom Tully
Yes, YouTube movie of the week is finally back. And for the month of December, we’re going to be covering just Christmas movies in this feature. And this is one you’ll definitely want to be watching soon, because it will be discussed in the Christmas podcast.
Ginger Rogers plays Mary Martin, a young woman who’s been sent to prison for manslaughter. She’s granted a furlough to go visit her aunt and uncle for Christmas. On the train, she meets Zach, a soldier who’s been in an institution suffering from post traumatic stress. He, too, has been granted a holiday furlough to see how he can handle the real world. Zach gets off the train with Mary, and the two strike up a relationship, with neither known the truth about each other’s problems.
I’ll Be Seeing You is really one of the most genuine romances I’ve ever seen. Films from this era didn’t really get into dark and deeply flawed characters as their romantic heroes and heroines, and the fact that this one does makes the the love story feel very raw and real. It also develops in a very realistic, convincing way. There’s never a moment where I thought that it felt artificial. Few films depict falling in love so honestly.
It was also one of the first films in the 1940s to ditch the patriotic “America is great and being a soldier and defending your country is awesome!” idea, and really tackle the negative effects war can have on those fighting it. Zach suffers deeply from post traumatic stress, and the film isn’t afraid to actually show that. We aren’t just told he’s been suffering, we see it. His behavior in the beginning of the film alone is extremely indicative of this. And we even get an excellent scene where we see him having an episode/flashback. This came out the year before The Best Years of Our Lives, the quintessential film about the hardships of a returning soldier, and it’s really brave in it depiction of a soldier’s struggles, especially since we were still at war at the time.
The handling of Mary’s character is interesting as well. We eventually learn the circumstances of her “crime”, but in the end it doesn’t matter so much. The way she interacts with her family is a really great part of the film. The clearly love her, but both her uncle and her cousin obviously have a difficult time with her being there from prison. Especially her cousin. While she’s friendly to Mary, the things she does (separating their closet, making sure they use different towels), clearly ostracize Mary. Seeing Barbara eventually learn to understand and accept Mary is a wonderfully developed sub plot.
The acting in the film is exceptional. Both Rogers and Cotten give performances that are among the best of their career. Cotten really gets into Zach’s head, and he seems to really understand the hardship of his Post Traumatic Stress. He’s a troubled, deeply flawed man. Rogers gives Mary so much guilt and shame, and over something she really shouldn’t feel guilty about. They both creat extremely fascinating characters. Shirley Temple, all grown up, gives a very interesting performance. She starts off as a girl who doesn’t seem to have a thought in her head, but as she grows to understand Mary, she develops into a realy young lady.
This is a unique Christmas film. It’s definitely a holiday film, but it doesn’t dwell on Christmas. It has a different story all its own, and that’s what I love so much about it. The Christmas moments are wonderful, but the story is so strong and interestingon its own.
By Katie Richardson