Sleep, My Love (1948)
Film noir is one of my favourite movie genres. From the moral ambiguity of the ‘hero’, to the stylistic and unbalanced settings, to the knock-out femme fatales, I love it all. Sadly, sometimes a film that seems to have all of these things fails to live up to the ideal, and Sleep, My Love is one of those films.
The set-up sounds great—husband drugs and hypnotizes wife in an attempt to drive her to commit suicide thus leaving him with ALL THE MONEY. Husband is also motivated by his lady-on-the-side who also wants ALL THE MONEY.
You’d think that with direction from Douglas Sirk, skills from starring actors Claudette Colbert, Robert Cummings, and Don Ameche, and a plot of murder and adultery would make this film watchable. And it was, for the most part. Okay, so Don Ameche maybe isn’t the best measuring stick to uphold an entire movie. I mean, Cocoon, right? There was also the odd scene where it looked like Robert Cummings’ character was reading cue-cards off-screen. For the most part I could ignore those moments if it wasn’t for the large gaps in the quality of writing that had me in parts bored and in others annoyed.
Although the running time of Sleep, My Love is a svelte 97 minutes it definitely could have benefited from a good edit. I can think of two scenes that were not only extraneous to the plot but also weighed the film down. You’ll know them too when you reach them—feel free to fast forward. Don’t worry about missing any important information or character development, there isn’t any.
It’s not all bad news. Playing a minor part as Detective Sgt. Strake, a young and handsome Raymond Burr at the beginning his film career cuts a nice figure. As does a leggy and suitably smokey-voiced Rita Johnson as the femme fatale. She also gets the best line of the movie by far, “Your girl is a lotta girls. This is one of them.”
I didn’t love this movie but neither did I hate it. It’s a good movie to watch on a rainy afternoon and if you happen to fall asleep that’s okay.