I LOVE YOU AGAIN
(director: W.S. Van Dyke; screenwriters: from the novel by Octavus Roy Cohen/story by Leon Gordon/Maurine Watkins/Charles Lederer/George Oppenheimer/Harry Kurnitz; cinematographer: Oliver T. Marsh; editor: Gene Ruggiero; music: Franz Waxman; cast: William Powell (‘Larry’ Wilson, aka George Carey), Myrna Loy (‘Kay’ Wilson ), Edmund Lowe (Duke Sheldon), Donald Douglas (Herbert), Nella Walker (Kay’s mother), Carl ‘Alfalfa’ Switzer (Leonard Harkspur Jr.), Frank McHugh (Doc Ryan); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lawrence Weingarten; MGM; 1940)
“It gets off to a fast start but dies in the stretch.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
MGM’s legendary team from the Thin Man series, Myrna Loy and William Powell, take a break from that private eye series to do this zany screwball comedy. Loy was waiting for the green light to work with Clark Gable in a Road to Rome (it never got funded) while Powell was in a funk over the accidental death of his girlfriend Jean Harlow, only to recover by surprisingly marrying actress Diana “Mousie” Lewis someone 26 years his junior. The Loy and Powell team made fifteen films together, six in the popular Thin Man series; this was their ninth film together. Ironically, Loy was known in these films as the perfect wife, but in real life she was married four times. Her relationship with Powell was always friendly but never amorous.
I Love You Again is sprightly directed by W.S. Van Dyke, affectionately known in Hollywood as “one-shot Woody.” He was someone who liked to keep filming without stopping for retakes. “Again” is taken from the novel by Octavus Roy Cohen and scripted by Charles Lederer. It gets off to a fast start but dies in the stretch, as it can’t keep up the quick pace and concludes with a contrived ending that sanitizes its moral behavior in much too pat a manner.
For the last eight years Larry Wilson (William Powell) has been a model though dull citizen married to Kay (Myrna Loy); the staid suburbanites live in the small town of Habersville, Pennsylvania. Businessman Larry while on a pleasure cruise alone finds fellow passenger, a tipsy con man named Doc Ryan (Frank McHugh), go overboard and Larry accidentally falls in and rescues him anyway. While taking Ryan back to a rescue rowboat, Larry’s conked on the noggin by a sailor’s oar and develops amnesia. Larry can’t remember the last eight years when he was a tightwad prudish pottery businessman and unbearable bore as a husband. All he remembers was nine years ago and he was on a train attending the Max Schmeling fight when he was conked on the head and robbed of $10,000. He recalls being a notorious con man named George Carey who worked scams with a petty thief named Duke Sheldon (Edmund Lowe). No one in his small town knows of his shady past and since he’s such a stuffed shirt, no one would believe it anyway. Ryan and Larry scheme to go partners, and return together to Habersville.
Met at the dock by Kay, Larry’s told she’s bored by his stuffiness and penny-pinching and wants a divorce to marry her new love interest Herbert (Donald Douglas). But Larry while faking his way as a Larry he no longer remembers becomes no longer the same dull Larry and tries to win pretty wifey back with a new exciting personality. In the meantime, Duke comes to town and the trio of con men scheme to pull off a land swindle by faking that there’s oil on the property Larry owns and selling it for a ripoff price to the locals. But Larry changes his mind while they have a bunch of suckers lined up, as he’s fallen in love again with his wife and returns to being honest. Ryan spills the beans to Kay about her hubby’s past and instead of being upset she finds him more appealing than ever. Duke, upset that Larry calls off the swindle, conks him on the head and when he comes to he thinks he’s back on the ship and doesn’t recognize Duke or Ryan. Larry reverts back to being the old Larry but this time around mixes in a little of the old con man’s zest for life. This satisfies Kay, as the couple start over again and she stays married for the same reason she married him, claiming she saw something no one else did: an exciting man behind his eyes.
REVIEWED ON 3/22/2006 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/