Mary Marshall, serving a six year term for accidental manslaughter, is given a Christmas furlough from prison to visit her closest relatives, her uncle and his family in a small Midwestern town. On the train she meets Zach Morgan, a troubled army sergeant on leave for the holidays from a military hospital. Although his physical wounds have healed, he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and is subject to panic attacks. The pair are attracted to one another and in the warm atmosphere of the Christmas season friendship blossoms into romance, but Mary is reluctant to tell him of her past and that she must shortly return to prison to serve the remainder of her sentence.Written by
While Zach and Mary are gathered at the Christmas dinner with the family, Mary hands a plate of the dessert to Zach, but in the next scene the dessert isn't in front of Zach. See more »
[coming out of a theater showing a war movie]
Is the war really like that?
I guess so.
I mean that you should only guess so.
Well, they have experts making those pictures. I guess that's the way they see the war. A beach a mile long, and thousands of soldiers, and tanks, and machine guns and everything. I guess that's the way it is.
But it wasn't that way for you, huh?
It's just a difference in size. To a guy that's in it, the war's about ten feet wide, and kind of empty. It's...
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I'll Be Seeing You captures the loneliness of two people who - besides their own serious problems - just don't fit into the bustling wartime image we often see of America in film during that time.The opening scene is in a busy train station. We quickly focus in on two travelers. She (Ginger Rogers as Mary Marshall) is uncomfortable when she tries first to buy a stick of gum and then a chocolate bar and is rebuffed by the sales clerk as though she had been asking to buy gold bullion at a five and dime. He (Joseph Cotten as Zachary Morgan) is uncomfortable because he wants to buy reading material and all that is available is full of news about the war and images that you can tell make him squeamish.
Zach is suffering from what would be called PTSD today due to battle fatigue, and he's ashamed of that fact, afraid of winding up like the shell-shocked WWI soldier he knew as a boy.
Mary is a convict out on Christmas furlough, although what she is serving time for will probably be a shock to modern sensibilities - I know it was for me. She is also ashamed - understandably perhaps for being a convict, not so understandably for what she did to become one. I'll let you watch the movie and see what I'm talking about here.
Against this backdrop of people who feel badly for the positions they are in due to social mores of the 1940's - soldiers are always brave and good girls never get themselves into the position Mary got herself into, these two lonely people find each other and connect. At first Zach lies to Mary about his situation, but then tells her the truth. Mary chooses to keep the truth from Zach, partly because she loves him and doesn't want to lose him, but mainly because her company is making him well - he says her self-confidence is giving him confidence - and she doesn't want to set back his recovery.
Mary is staying with her aunt, uncle, and cousin during the holidays, and this warm family setting has both of them healing just a bit. Shirley Temple plays the cousin that is too young to know why Mary is in prison or wear lipstick according to her parents, but is apparently old enough to go out unchaperoned with a Lieutenant on leave who is probably five years older than she! Spring Byington plays the aunt who is supportive overall but still drops phrases from time to time that leave you wondering about the overall wisdom of her advise. For example, she keeps telling Mary to settle for second best and pretend it's first best - that's what she did!. Rather wacky advice by today's standards, but maybe mainstream feelings for people who married during the roaring twenties, and then raised a family during the depression and world war.
I highly recommend this sentimental favorite of mine. I'm rather surprised it hasn't become more of a Christmas standard, because even though in many ways it is a unique snapshot in time, the story of two lonely people finding each other in a world that would probably judge them severely if they were open about their problems is universal.
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