“I love you, and I think I’ll always love you — but I must try to remember.”
A soldier (Joseph Cotten) who’s secretly written romantic letters to a woman (Jennifer Jones) on behalf of his friend (Robert Sully) eventually meets Jones after the war, though she now goes by the name “Singleton” (rather than Victoria), is looked after by a caretaker (Ann Richards), and struggles with amnesia after being sent to an asylum for murdering Sully. Cotten and Jones fall in love, but Jones is haunted by his original love for “Victoria”; meanwhile, Cotten live in constant fear that Jones will remember the murder she committed and descend once again into madness.
Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten co-starred in four features together: Since You Went Away (1944), Duel in the Sun (1946), this title (scripted by Ayn Rand!), and Portrait of Jennie (1948). Rand is primarily known for developing a philosophical system entitled Objectivism — in which heroic, productive, reasoning individuals seek their own happiness above all else — but I’m hard-pressed to see much of her interest or influence here. Indeed, this melodramatic romance about amnesia and hidden identities seems to fly in the face of Rand’s philosophical approach to life — except perhaps in the presentation of Cotten’s character as someone determined to be with Jones no matter what, and resolute in his willingness to help her suppress her memories.
Unfortunately, it’s not a very effectively scripted narrative, given that both Cotten and Jones fall in love with individuals sight unseen (Cotten with the recipient of his Cyrano-de-Bergerac-esque letters, Jones with the man she thinks wrote her the letters) — so their entire romance is predicated on other-worldly notions of idealism and transcendent love. Jones’ “Singleton” (what a terrible new name!) might as well be called “Simpleton” given how infantalized her character is, and none of the other characters are particularly well-limned either. We’re left simply waiting for the inevitable moment when a flashback will tell us what really happened to Jones before she lost her memory — and even that pay-off isn’t very satisfying.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Lee Garmes’ cinematography
No; you can skip this one.