5 October 2006 | mgmax
Strikingly dark comedy-mystery
Report from Cinesation 2006: REMEMBER LAST NIGHT? (****) The notes suggested that James Whale sold this idea to Universal by comparing it to The Thin Man-- but it's The Thin Man as written by Evelyn Waugh, a tale of bright young things drinking and partying fast enough to keep despair at bay, and a reminder that Whale belonged to the same generation of artists formed by World War I who produced things like The Sun Also Rises and Goodbye To All That.
A group of young friends party the night away on a series of amazing Art Deco sets, and when they wake up in the morning, one of them has been murdered. As the mystery-plot mechanics take over, it loses some of its brittle, dark charm, relying on Arthur Treacher in the Thesiger part as a mordant butler for laughs. But at its best this is one of the most striking comedies of the 30s, energetic and gay (in the old sense-- mostly) and often very funny, yet worldly and almost bleak at the same time. If only the solution of the mystery could have paid off the film's tone thematically. The collector's print shown, incidentally, was 16mm, but could have been 35mm for how beautifully it showed off the film's remarkable sets.