“Blessed with a characteristically brut champagne script by Preston Sturges, Mitchell Leisen’s Remember the Night is special even by the bright standards of the romantic comedies that Hollywood studios pulled off so breezily in 1940. It’s the cinematic equivalent of oven-warm gingerbread. Which is not to say there’s anything overly cozy or cloying about this story of an accused shoplifter (Barbara Stanwyck) and an assistant DA (Fred MacMurray) sparring and falling inevitably in love over the course of a Christmas-time road trip from New York to Indiana.
The premise may be fanciful, but the human stakes here are entirely authentic, with a moral and romantic outlook that’s exquisitely perceptive and generous. Four years before their more celebrated pairing in Double Indemnity, Stanwyck and MacMurray perfected a comfortable, crackling star chemistry, tossing Sturges’s wry, whetstone-whittled lines back and forth like a beachball, and palpably enjoying themselves in the process. And the seasonal setting is hardly incidental: this is a Christmas film powered by a loving, unsentimental spirit of goodwill to all men, and not at the expense of one scrap of wit. Seventy-six years on, it fully deserves a place in the holiday canon.” -Guy Lodge, The Guardian