Plot: Ives (Henry Fonda) and Julie (Joan Bennett) are in love and have plans for a future together, one that includes marriage, children, and the happiest of lives together, but that is all a ways off. As much as Ives loves Julie, he thinks he needs to make more of himself before he can propose to his true love, as he doesn’t think she should accept the hand of a nobody like him. He requests that she give him some time to improve his lot in life and she agrees, but grows impatient when two years pass and he hasn’t offered up a commitment. When she meets writer Michael (Alan Marshal), she is taken in by his charm and on impulse, the two wind up married. But he isn’t the man she expected and he tends to ignore her, in favor of good times and parties. When he is killed, Julie finds herself alone with her daughter in Paris and unable to support herself, as the couple had no savings for her to lean on. When her aunt offers to bring her home, she hopes Julie will rediscover her spark with Ives, but is that even possible at this point or has too much time passed to rekindle that old flame?
Entertainment Value: I Met My Love Again never achieved the status of a true classic, but it does have a solid narrative and of course, lead performances from Henry Fonda and Joan Bennett to drum up interest. The story is fine, but the tone is a little uneven and the movie veers between drama and light humor, so it never settles in or commits, which lessens the impact of either element. I like the premise of revisiting old love and of course, the movie has a warm, romantic approach, but it doesn’t throw all softballs and puts some obstacles in the path of potential true love. The dramatic elements do help the movie a lot, but I wish it was more consistent and leaned less on comic touches, as that would have balanced things out more. The movie runs under 80 minutes, so the pace is brisk and I Met My Love Again doesn’t waste much time, sticking with the core story elements and little else. I did appreciate the antics of the friends, which added some of the more effective comedic moments. In the end, this one might not bowl over all viewers, but it is a solid, mostly well made movie that deserves a wider look and features Fonda and Bennett in lesser seen performances.
Although the narrative here is solid, I have to think the main reason people will be drawn to I Met My Love Again is the lead performers. Henry Fonda and Joan Bennett are both popular and acclaimed thespians, so it is natural that fans will seek out their lower profile work. This wasn’t a super early film for either, though Bennett had much more experience by this point. Even so, Fonda winds up with a more capable and memorable performance, as he is able to convey the intellectual mindset of Ives, while still being likable in some ways. This isn’t one of his warmer roles however, so it isn’t as smooth or romantic of a role as it might seem. Bennett turns in her usual level of work, which is good, but not great. She has chemistry with both Fonda and Alan Marshal, who also puts in solid work here. I don’t think that chemistry leads to smoldering passion or romance, but it does allow for effective exchanges and pushes the narrative, which is what really matters here. The cast also includes Florence Lake, Louise Platt, Tim Holt, May Whitty, and Dorothy Stickney.
The Disc: ClassicFlix has worked some real magic with this release, giving us a new restoration sourced from a fresh scan, with a lot of clean up and grading done, so this is remarkable work. The print has some signs of wear of course, but looks much cleaner and more refined than I ever expected. The black & white visuals show stark, accurate contrast and depth is strong as far as standard definition presentations are concerned, with rock solid fine detail. This hasn’t always been an easy movie to track down, so seeing it presented in such a fine fashion is a real treat.