I Love You Again (1940)

W.S. VAN DYKE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1940. . Story by , , Screenplay by , , , based on the novel by . Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by , . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Larry Wilson () isa penny-pinching, tea-totalling bore who jumps off a ship to save a drowning man, in the process getting himself walloped on the head by an oar when a lifeboat comes to collect them. He wakes up with amnesia, calling himself George Carey, a con man who loves to spend money and drink hooch, because as it turns out, the last nine years that he has been living as Wilson were actually his amnesia after an earlier injury, and this one brought him back to his real self.

Reaching shore and being reunited with his wife (), “Wilson” maintains the charade in order to go back to the charming hamlet that he has made his home for the last nine years. Scoping out the financial situation, he learns that he isn’t personally rich, but the factory town he lives in has a huge payload in the bank that he could take for himself with a little help from his fellow crooks.

Getting one of them to drop a fake deposit of oil on a property that he owns, our dubious hero drums up interest from the town to buy the place off him using everything in their community chest, a foolproof plan with plenty to split between his fellow thieves but for one problem: Loy was about to divorce Larry Wilson, but now that she’s getting to know George Carey she’s finding there’s finally a bit of spark in their marriage, and he’s becoming increasingly attracted to the proposition of sticking around.

This highly conceptual comedy has a great deal of fun with the tropes of amnesia plots (including this hilarious idea that every bonk on the head changes a person’s memories like a light switch) and benefits a great deal from the super hot chemistry between the two leads, but Loy isn’t on the screen nearly enough to make it one of their classic pairings.

Rather than mine the confusion of a couple who are, each in their own way, strangers to each other, the plot (which is something of a precursor to The Long Kiss Goodnight) concentrates instead on a lot of silly extra-curricular capers for Powell and his buddies, including late night burglaries and a jaunt through the forest with a group of Boy Scout-esque kids, as if the film is hoping to grab the Abbott and Costello crowd and is not concerned with the waning popularity of comedies of remarriage in the screwball tradition.

It’s no classic, but it is funny, and Powell never lets a single moment wane without delivering a great deal of charismatic charm.

 

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