Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten, and Ginger Rogers in I'll Be Seeing You (1944)


(directors: George Cukor/William Dieterle; screenwriters: from a radio play by Charles Martin/Marion Parsonnet; cinematographer: Tony Gaudio; editor: William H. Ziegler; music: Daniele Amfitheatrof; cast: Ginger Rogers (Mary Marshall), Joseph Cotton (Zachary Morgan), Shirley Temple (Barbara Marshall), Spring Byington (Sarah Marshall ), Tom Tully (Herbert Marshall), Chill Wills (Coffee Shop Owner); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dore Schary; United Artists/MGM; 1945)

“A satisfying WW11 melodrama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Veteran filmmaker William Dieterle (“Portrait of Jennie”) directs with eloquence a satisfying WW11 melodrama. This was acclaimed producer Dore Schary’s first script for his new boss David O. Selznick, originally entitled Double Furlough. Selznick hated the script, but promised in his recruitment of Schary no studio interference. But he did interfere until his wife told him he was wrong, and thereby Schary was allowed to go on with the film. Though Selznick continued to send him many memos about changes, Schary ignored them and filmed the way he wanted to. But when it came to Shirley Temple, in her first adult role as a 17-year-old, Selznick was not satisfied with her delivery when she inadvertently blurts out a vital well-guarded family secret that threatens to destroy the romance between Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotton. As a result, Selznick called in George Cukor to re-shoot that pivotal scene. Ginger Rogers, the highest paid star in Hollywood at the time, earning $290,000 a film (she was the eight highest wage-earner in America), was a last-minute substitute for Joan Fontaine. I’ll Be Seeing You is based on a radio play by Charles Martin; Marion Parsonnet provides the efficient screenplay.

Zachary Morgan (Joseph Cotton) is a much decorated war-hero sergeant on a 10-day furlough from a military hospital for the Christmas holiday season, where he’s being treated for shell-shock. On a crowded train filled with military personal returning home for their Christmas leaves, Zach meets the stunning Mary Marshall (Ginger Rogers) and gets off with her at Pine Hill (a fictional small city somewhere in Texas). She tells him she’s a traveling saleslady visiting her uncle (Tom Tully) for the holidays and he says he’s visiting his sister; we learn later on they are not exactly telling the truth. At her uncle’s place, the two chill out together over an old-fashioned dinner prepared by Mary’s kindly aunt (Spring Byington). Mary’s chatterbox and nosy lighthearted cousin Barbara (Shirley Temple) somehow adds a sense of joy to the good holiday feelings that overcome Zach, an orphan, with pangs of normalcy for family life. Zach feels guilty he lied about his sister, but explains to Mary he did so only because he needed a reason to get off at her stop. It turns out Mary also has a secret, she’s on a 10-day Christmas holiday furlough from her six year manslaughter sentence, where she has already served three years in prison. Mary was a secretary invited to her boss’s apartment for what she thought was a party, but there was no party and the boss sexually attacked her. While defending herself, Mary pushed him out the window of the 14th floor apartment building.

The star-crossed lovers try to come to terms with their personal fears after developing a trusting relationship that they both feel keen on. After dating each other for a week they have fallen in love. But both have emotional problems that they can’t deal with. Zach is worried if he will ever get cured from his battlefront scars, while Mary is fearful if she will be accepted by nice guy Zach if she reveals the truth about herself. Not a great plot line (Mary’s tale of woe is hardly believable), but the stars work well together and make this romance an earnest one despite all the contrivances.


REVIEWED ON 11/22/2004 GRADE: B –