I’m’ going the non-traditional route for my Christmas viewing this year, while I’m still watching staples like It’s a Wonderful Life or the Muppet Christmas Carol, I’ve decided to try and find some new Christmas gems. I’ll be Seeing You (1944) had a premise to die for; (from IMDB) “Ginger Rogers is a convict released from state penitentiary for a Christmas leave. On the train, she meets Sergeant Joseph Cotten who has been released from a mental hospital and she invites him home for dinner.” I couldn’t resist watching it, and I must say I enjoyed it very much. The first half in particular is very tender and beautifully shot. I’d venture to say it’s among Cotten’s best performances, as his struggle with shell shock is potent and real. Dieterle who also directed one of my all time favourite films, Portrait of Jennie, creates a sense of immediacy with his direction. Many close-ups are used, as well as a brilliantly executed tracking shot that opens the film. Whenever Zachary (Cotten) is alone his struggle becomes more potent, he finds a lot of comfort in Mary, and in these scenes the cutting becomes more erratic and a repetitive interior monologue is introduced. I’ve seen many films that try to capture this inner struggle and few do it better than this.
The film does lose a little steam in the second half though as Zachary becomes far more comfortable but Mary still cannot abide revealing the truth about her life. I felt that her fear of the consequences were not explored deeply enough, although they certainly are touched on. Cotten and Rogers have beautiful chemistry though, and the rest of the cast is great too.
Tonight I plan on watching Alistair Sim’s A Christmas Carol, a first in what probably amounts to at least a decade. I’m also going to try and squeeze in Christmas in Connecticut, although time is a little short these days!
Finally I’d like to thank EVERYONE who participated or read/commented on any entries in the Powell & Pressburger blog-a-thon. It’s been an absolute joy!