Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sleep, My Love

Mr. Thrilling and I were trying to come up with something to watch the other night. We’ve got two Netflix discs of The Hour sitting here, but I wasn’t in the mood. Anyway, we couldn’t agree on anything to rent, so back we headed to our Netflix Instant Queue and low and behold I spotted a film I’d tucked aside for a rainy day. Or night.

Sleep, My Love is a 1948 psychological thriller starring Claudette Colbert, Bob Cummings, and Don Ameche. To Mr. Thrilling’s and my own great delight we’d neither of us seen it and it turned out to be pretty good!

Allie Courtland wakes on a train in the middle of the night and she can’t remember how she got there or where she’s supposed to be headed. Her last memory is of wishing her husband goodnight. She promptly throws a hysterical fit, which I guess is not entirely unreasonable, though I found it annoying. Eventually she calls her husband, Richard, who has already summoned the police.

Only the slowest of viewers will not instantly recognize that Richard is trying to work a gaslight on poor Allie. He claims she’s been sleepwalking for a while now and that the previous night she stole his gun, shot him, and ran away.

Irritatingly, Alison buys this without a quibble. Really? If Mr. Thrilling accused me of any of this without more evidence than a gun in my bag and a sleeper berth on a train, I would have more than a quibble. He’d be lucky if I didn’t shoot him for reals on the spot. Of course that’s because I have a suspicious nature and was weaned on crime fiction. Apparently Allie missed Gaslight when the remake came out in 1944.

Anyway, Allie agrees to see a shrink and so this very creepy bespectacled and mustachioed weirdo shows up and proceeds to freak her out by leering at her and scratching the upholstery and fiddling with the fireplace poker. It unsurprisingly results in another bout of hysterics and a dead faint.

Meanwhile, Bruce, a charming young man she met on the original train, and who was not one whit put off by all signs pointing to Allie having Issues, shows up and begins to get instantly suspicious. Everyone keeps saying how wholesome and healthy and well-balanced Allie is, and that just doesn’t jibe with her husband’s tales of sleepwalking wackiness. Besides, Bruce fell for Allie the second he saw her.

Anyway, Richard hopes to use Bruce to help prove Allie is suicidally unstable, so he lets Bruce escort Allie to a party – instead Bruce takes her to a Chinese wedding -- and then the fun really begins!

This is a great little period piece – all the more charming for a few unexpected touches like Bruce’s Chinese adopted brother, and Richard having to dose himself to prove to Allie he's not drugging her cocoa, and crazy bad girl Daphne's endless supply of lingerie and venom. Smooth performances on the part of all the players help pull it off.

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