Friday, June 9, 2017


"You forgot you said you loved me. Swore you'd never cause me pain. 
While you're forgetting, baby...remember my name."

Remember My Name is a moody, disconcerting, not-to-everyone’s-taste update of the classic 1940s women’s melodrama. Not to everyone's taste, this Altman-esque neo-noir (written and directed by Robert Altman protégé Alan Rudolph) takes its time. And it resists the standard genre structure in its exploration of the femme fatale mystique through a distinctly ‘70s, decidedly feminist prism.

Geraldine Chaplin as Emily

Anthony Perkins as Neil Curry

Berry Berenson as Barbara Curry

Moses Gunn as Pike

Alfre Woodard as Rita

Jeff Goldblum as Mr. Nudd

When I was growing up, movie theaters screened films in “continuous performance.” This simply meant that movies (usually double or triple features) were screened continuously throughout the day, often without benefit of intermissions, and patrons were free to come and go as they wished.
What this meant for me and my three sisters—the eldest harboring a near-manic aversion to coming in on a movie already in progress—was that every trip to the movies involved an elaborate lobby ritual built around ensuring our not hearing or catching a glimpse of the ending of feature #1, yet making sure we were in our seats in enough time for the start of feature #2.
When arriving at a theater before movie #1 had ended, my elder sister would insist we stand in the lobby—balancing our popcorn, drinks, and candy—assigning a reluctant electee (me) the task of periodically peeking through the slats of the auditorium double doors, to be on the lookout for scrolling end credits: this being the sign to give my sisters the “thumbs up,” indicating that the coast was clear and that it was at last safe for us to enter a spoiler-free environment. 
Most times, things proceeded without a hitch, for when I was on my game, I was practically the Sherlock Holmes of listening without hearing and watching without actually taking any information in. I was a crack at discerning end-of-movie themes and gauging the length of closing credits. However, once in a rare while, my technique was gummed up by those deceptive films that crowd all their credits into the opening, ending on a lone “The End” title card or silent fade-to-black.

On one such occasion, I suffered such an error in judgment that, in mistaking the opening credits of film #2 for the closing credits of film #1, I signaled my sisters only after the second feature had already BEGUN. So, yes, for all our waiting and stealthy machinations, thanks to me, we all wound up missing the beginning of the movie (all sixty seconds of it, I might add). Nevertheless, my sister was livid. In fact, had she been able to devise a reasonable explanation to offer our parents for my absence, I’m certain she would have pushed me over the theater’s balcony that day. 
I, too, always prefer to see a movie from the beginning, but in instances where it can’t be helped, I find something uniquely enjoyable in trying to pick up and assemble the threads of a film’s plot from the middle working backward. To, in essence, play “catch up” with the events of a film, taking bits of plot and character information revealed out of context in the present, and ascribing to them, in reverse order, a kind of imagined pattern and motive. 

I mention all of this because a similar phenomenon is at the core of the narrative structure of Remember My Name. This is Alan Rudolph’s second film (1976s Welcome to L.A. was his debut), and, like many good movies and most great mysteries, Remember My Name feels like a story we’ve picked up in the middle. The film opens with the image of a lone, late-model car winding down a California highway mountain road. Its driver: a slight, flinty-looking woman in dark glasses who, when glimpsed roadside with her ever-present cigarette, is revealed to be dressed in the drab khaki and blues of institutional clothing. Is she an ex-convict…a parolee…an escapee from an asylum? At this point, we don’t know. What we do know is that she is following a man in a car. Very closely and very intently.
When the man arrives at his destination—a residential construction site—the woman of mystery lags behind, affording him time to exit his vehicle. As she drives slowly past, she pauses just long enough to give two blasts of her horn. An act that both draws attention to herself and elicits from the man a response betraying something more intense than the rattled curiosity over the identity of a stranger in a car.

Things really start to percolate when we, at last, get a good look at the stranger (sort of, for her eyes are obscured by large aviator sunglasses) who, as it so happens, is in the process of making a harassing phone call to an unidentified woman. What these three individuals have in common, if anything, has yet to be discerned. But in plopping us smack dab in the middle of what already feels like a situation fraught with portent, Remember My Name intensifies our desire to know who these three people are, what their history is, and how their lives intersect. As its mystery unfolds, Remember My Name reveals itself to be a suspense thriller set in the present, about three people intent on building a future, yet confronted with the inconvenient reality that they must first come to terms with their pasts.
Emily (Geraldine Chaplin) has just been released from prison after serving 12 years for involuntary manslaughter. Rarely far from a cigarette, walking furtively about with downcast eyes, arms pinned to her sides, muscles-coiled and body braced for either attack or defense; Emily navigates open spaces as though still behind bars. Clearly unversed in the relaxed give-and-take of casual conversation, she speaks in the blunt and deliberate manner of one accustomed to only answering questions.

But if the outward appearance of Emily’s actions offer the superficial reassurance of an ex-convict making a sincere effort to adapt to society—in rather rapid order she purchases new clothes, lands a cashier’s job at a Thrifty Mart, snags a seedy downtown apartment, and undergoes a curiously hyper-femme makeover (getting an elaborate bouffant hairdo perhaps more in vogue back in the late ‘60s when she was jailed)—one can’t also help but detect in it all, an air of impermanence.

For in her private moments, moments dedicated to reciting well-rehearsed, melodramatic speeches; re-acclimating herself to high heeled shoes, and practicing feminine poses of seduction; it’s obvious that Emily’s single-minded determination is less about personal reform and adapting to freedom, but more about settling a score with construction worker Neil Curry (Anthony Perkins) and his wife Barbara (Berenson). With a vengeance.
Emily embarks on a campaign of stalking, harassment, and breaking and entering

I suppose I always get such a kick out of revenge thrillers because in real life, investing so much effort in “getting back” at someone really is such an exhausting and colossal waste of time. But as vicarious thrills go, Remember My Name ranks high on my list of movies that traffic in what I call The Theater of Methodical Payback. These studies in self-help justice are so engrossing because, as structured, they tend not to clue you in on the “whys” of the revenge plot until well after you’ve come to know the characters. By the time all is revealed, the viewer—in coming to know and/or identify with these individuals—has hopefully come to develop an emotional investment in the outcome. No longer mere voyeurs, we now have a stake in the proceedings: do we want to see Emily triumph, or do we hope her plans will be thwarted? Is Neil really guilty of anything? Is Barbara an innocent party? Many questions come to mind, but one of the sharpest knives in Remember My Name's drawer is its ability to make you think you know where things are headed when in fact we're merely being prepped to be thrown another curve. 
During the nostalgia-crazed ‘70s, several filmmakers used the public’s preoccupation with all things retro (with all its inherent desire to escape into an imagined “simpler” past) as an opportunity to comment on contemporary times. Certainly, Robert Altman's Philip Marlowe update The Long Goodbye (1973) and Robert Benton’s nourish The Late Show (1977)...also produced by Altman...made everything old feel new again. But to my recollection, Remember My Name was the only film from this era to take on the neo-noir from a female perspective and devise a modernized spin on the once-popular “woman’s film” genre of the 1940s.

Remember My Name offers provocative commentary on issues of masculinity and femininity. Some of it intentional: as in the mannish/aggressive behavior Emily exhibits intermittently with the studied, mannered femininity she adopts when she sets about using the male gaze to her advantage. Some of it unintentional: the pairing of the bisexual Perkins with real-life wife Berenson in her film debut makes for a curiously androgynous couple, their male/female similarity adding to the film's gender provocation.
 Cumbersome feminine allure / male vulnerability/woman self-defined

In Geraldine Chaplin’s Emily, Remember My Name has a female anti-heroine at the center of its narrative. A complex, inarticulate study in contradictions; she’s hard and soft, pitiable and terrifying, understandable and opaque, protagonist and villain. Emily operates under her own instincts, agency, and agenda, none of which is ever made fully clear to us. The thrill of watching her, in all her unstable unpredictability, is that her actions alone propel the entirety of the plot. She’s the reason it starts, and she’s ultimately the one who decides how it ends.

Remember My Name is a character drama cloaked in a genre film. What Alan Rudolph’s moody screenplay (in no great hurry to get to where it’s headed) and eye for character detail does is place very unexceptional people in the extraordinary, heightened-reality framework of film noir, then sits back (there’s that leisurely thing again) as they struggle to cope with how little effort it takes for the bedrock of simple lives to be demolished. 
For the viewer, this ordinary/extraordinary contrast creates a subtle tension born of wanting the story to flow and progress along the traditional lines and tropes of the genre, only to have one’s expectations provocatively subverted at every turn due to the erratic idiosyncrasies of the characters and the near-certain combustibility of their interactions.
Alan Autry (no relation to Gene, despite the cowboy hat) as Rusty, Rita's bullying boyfriend

There’s Jeff Goldblum as the harried manager of a thrift store who employs the ex-cons his mother recommends (she's incarcerated for killing his father); Alfre Woodard (making her film debut) as Goldblum’s suspicious assistant, a snooping agitator who has no idea what she’s taking on by wrangling with the volatile Emily; and Moses Gunn as Pike, the brusk building manager with whom Emily forges something resembling a relationship—or at the very least, the closest thing to a relationship her sealed-off heart will allow.
And then, of course, there’s Barbara and Neil Curry, the focus of Emily’s obsessive harassment. Anthony Perkins’ Neil seems an Average Joe type, but there’s something a bit off about him (it IS Anthony Perkins, after all). In an instance of an actor’s real-life discomfort in his role working to a film’s advantage--Perkins felt he couldn’t convincingly play a construction worker, and he’s right--Neil comes across as a person attempting to hide something unsavory about his past in the adoption of a new persona that’s an ostentatiously ill fit. As ill-fitting as his marriage, it would appear. For while no mention is made of how long they’ve been together (Neil’s plans to build the two of them a cabin hint of being somewhat-newlyweds), cracks are already beginning to show in the relationship, evident in Neil’s prolonged absences and Barbara’s perpetual bewilderment at his behavior (alas, the sole character trait afforded Berry Berenson’s character).
In Remember My Name, a film that can be looked upon as a kind of cynical treatise on love as life’s ultimate natural disaster (earthquake reports play incessantly on TV sets in the background); no relationship is easy, no associations are clear-cut, and in the end, a woman may find it necessary to toughen up in order to save herself from the collateral damage of romance.

This is my absolute favorite of all Geraldine Chaplin’s screen performances. In fact, I’d rate her Emily as one of the most memorable, intriguing characters written for a woman. Movie femme fatales come in all stripes. Most, regrettably, embodying some aspect of men’s fear of women. A great many of these films ask us to view the femme fatale from the lead male character’s perspective. What I find so fascinating about Emily and Chaplin’s intense, internal portrayal, is that, in being a study in contradictions, she belongs to no one but herself.
Emily, giving few fucks, as usual
You can try to peg her as a villain/victim, hard/vulnerable, insane, or determined; but at every turn she resists pigeonholing. Eventually, you’re forced to surrender your expectations and all those familiar names attributed to women in these kinds of movies, and simply let her character be who she is. In the end, you may come away with a name for the type of woman Emily is revealed to be, but it’s a conclusion arrived at by knowledge, not assumption. Chaplin fleshes out her character with unique depth. So compelling I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. She’s terrific. 
Geraldine Chaplin was the 1978 Best Actress winner at both
 the Paris Film Festival and the Miami Film Festival

Appropriately enough, my introduction to Alan Rudolph was his first film, Welcome to LA. Unfortunately, all that I found enjoyable about that very Altman-like look at Los Angeles bed-hopping was marred by how unbearable I found Richard Baskin’s music (I find it to be so hard going that when I watch it, it's either with my remote at the ready so I can mute it, or with the sound completely off, reading the subtitles). Rudolph's second film is considerably more to my liking and tastes, for while music still figures prominently in Remember My Name, it's jazz, which I like, and the songs composed and sung by Alberta Hunter serve as the eloquent emotional voice of the film’s inarticulate and closed-off characters.
Jeff Perry as Harry. A co-worker who takes a shine to Emily.

I can’t say enough good things about Remember My Name, a smart, emotionally honest film of sometimes confoundingly complex characters and relationships. Rudolph directs with unusual flair and the film is punctuated by stylistic touches enhanced by Tak Fujimoto’s descriptive cinematography.
Emily is haunted by the sound of cell doors closing (it's the very first sound we hear, before the Columbia logo is off the screen). Bars become a motif throughout the film, suggesting imprisonment, confinement, and emotional distance.

And for those in search of a motive for Emily's revenge, I think it can be found in the film's title Remember My Name, which to me shares an intersectionality sisterhood with the current hashtag social movement #SayHerName devoted to raising awareness of black female victims of violence and police brutality. Too often in our culture, women are labeled the victim, the wife, the girlfriend, the ex; etc. When a woman demands that her name be remembered (or spoken) it's a demand to be humanized and not dismissed or marginalized. I like to think that Emily's quest is simply the insistence not to be easily swept into the past. And based on how the film ends, there's little danger of that.

In creating the soundtrack for Remember My Name, Alan Rudolph sought out 83-year-old retired (for 25 years) jazz great Alberta Hunter to write and perform nine songs for the film. It's said she has a brief walk-on in the film, but I've yet to catch it.  Popular in the '20s & '30s, thanks to this film she enjoyed a late-career resurgence which lasted until her death in 1989.

Anthony Perkins and Berry Berenson had been married about four years when they began work together in Remember My Name. Berry, the younger sister of actress/model Marisa Berenson, was a photographer and model herself. She and Perkins had two sons and remained wed until his death in 1992. Berenson died tragically at the age of 53, a passenger on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's your time now / But it's gonna be mine some sweet day."

Copyright © Ken Anderson  2009 - 2017


  1. I was fortunate enough to catch this unique, distinctive film about 8 years or so ago on TCM and was glad I did. It gave me a greater appreciation of Chaplin along with entertaining glimpses of other performers when they were younger, such as Goldblum and Woodard. Congrats on finally getting around to giving it the "Dreams" treatment! :-)

    1. Hi Poseidon
      I'm feel the same in that this film gave me a greater appreciation of Chaplin. She's outstanding, and what a unique heroine- if you can call her that.
      It also gave me a sense that, no matter how much he claimed that his career suffered from being "typed" after PSYCHO, something developed in Anthony Perkins in his later years that made him come off as strange no matter how ordinary his character was. It's something (at least for me) he carried with him and brought to each role, not something the public wouldn't let him leave behind.
      Too bad this movie has never has a US release on DVD or VHS, but I hear TCM is going to be screening it next month, so hopefully more people can discover it.
      Good to hear from you, Poseidon! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Boy am I glad and a bit surprised to see you writing about Remember My Name. No one ever talks about this movie! I saw it some years back in the biggest throes of my Anthony Perkins obsession, but unfortunately can't remember much of it. Here are my two cents on what lingers:

    - Tony Perkins and his role simply don't go together, but at least he gets to show off the physique he was obsessed with building in the 70s. As you mention in your post and comment, there was something deeply unsettling about his screen presence the longer his career went on. I've always been a bit disturbed by how his face changed as he entered his 40s: something hard and jagged came in. Maybe it's just the low weight he maintained, coupled with his drug use.
    - I remember liking Berry's performance: the role doesn't give her much to do, but she seemed to be at ease in front of the camera.
    - This is Geraldine Chaplin unlike anything I've ever seen her before. You mention this is your favorite performance by her. She has a quirky yet ethereal screen presence that always comes through as magnetic in every role she does. My favorite role of hers is without a doubt the one that introduced me to her, the ballet teacher in Almodóvar's Talk to Her (one of my very favorites).

    Your review brought to mind glimpses of this movie I'd forgot (those songs for instance). Thanks for doing this!

    1. Hi Callie
      I think it's a bit of a case of "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to people's familiarity with this movie. I remember when I wrote about Altman's "That Cold Day in the Park" many years back before it came out on DVD; few people seem to have heard of it and almost no one had seen it. Now the internet is full of post-DVD release reviews about this undiscovered cult hit.
      REMEMBER MY NAME suffers from a total lack of availability. I'm not sure if Alan Rudolph has anything but a cult-fan base, but it didn't help that the film was not a hit, and that there wasn't even a VHS release for it.
      But I'm glad you have seen it, and even though you claim to not remember much about it, what you do remember is pretty spot-on.
      I hadn't known that Perkins was on a physique kick, but that explains his unusually sculpted look in this, as well as drug us and low body fat played into his gaunt look. But you ares o right about there being a sort of jagged edge to his boyish looks that began to develop, lending his characters a strange, quirky look that had nothing to do with people's memories of PSYCHO.
      Berry Berenson's performance is naif, but I wouldn't call it bad. I sense that with a director more interfering and hands-on like Peter Bogdanovich or Roman Polanski, she could have come across more expressively. As you note, she does seem somewhat at ease in front of the camera.
      Geraldine Chaplin is indeed wonderful in TALK TO HER (what a great introduction you had to her!) and she has actually given many fine performances in many films. REMEMBER MY NAME remains my favorite because it's such a departure and because it's so complex. I love when a movie makes you want to know more about a character...throwing issues of "heroine" or "villain" out the door.
      The traits you mentioned: her quirkiness, her ethereal quality - are reminiscent of what I loved about a great many '70s-era actresses- there was a uniqueness about them that rarely lent themselves to standard market-research type movies.
      Thank you for contributing a voice familiar with this film, corroborating in part the many things I find so special about it.

  3. Argyle, here. I apologize in advance that this is going to be all about me, but you inspire me. I have always been guilty of liking things before I have experienced them. In the 70's as a kid I would glean whatever information was available about the next great film, actor, book, art work, fashion thing, etc. You could easily label it pretension - and it usually was. But over the years (I still do this) I’ve decided that pretension is sometimes the route to enlightenment. Sometimes you have to make the leap of liking something you don’t understand in order to start understanding it. Is that so bad? (I’ve also learned you have to be careful not to be snookered by corporate taste shills from all kinds of culture - high to low - who are just trying to sell something or reinforce their own power positions.) I deeply admire people who are immune/oblivious to all the noise, but I’m not, and so I try to navigate it wisely, but sometimes you just have to make the leap.

    When I was in high school I was the editor of the high school paper. I worked on my first issue over the summer. I had a friend review “Nashville”. This was 1975. Somehow I made it clear to her that I wanted her review to be a rave. I had not seen “Nashville.” But if this paper was going to have my name on it, we were going to be on the bleeding edge! I am not this obnoxious outwardly (I don’t think!?) but put me in a position of a little power and I am going to assert my taste. She wrote the review and it was a rave. I guess I was trying to say: we are not going to be reviewing “Walking Tall Part 2" in this paper; we are going to tackle the most important films of the day like our brothers at Time and Newsweek (I know - not very high standards but I was 16) and you are going to learn to like it! Eventually I saw “Nashville” and was (secretly) pretty confused by it. But I told myself there was something there and eventually I grew to see it and love it. But I had to make that leap via pretension to expose myself and get there. That’s how I see it.


  4. Argyle, again.

    So I added Robert Altman and Geraldine Chaplin to my mental list of people to pay attention to. It would be years before I saw “Dr. Zhivago” and could see her as this fresh, delicate, unassuming but privileged child of unimaginable cultural pedigree. For me, films have an almost unique way of allowing knowledge to build on knowledge (backwards and forwards), amplifying and deepening your appreciations and sympathies, particularly with actors.

    So a few years later, I’m at college and have a great friend and we go to see pretty much literally every movie that comes out, somewhat to the detriment of my/our academic careers. (He eventually goes to USC film school and actually makes independent films.) We see “Welcome to L.A.” which confuses me because it’s not “Nashville” and, yes, “Remember My Name” which also confuses me because I just don’t have any references or experience to appreciate it. But I remember it. I remember a dry visual style. (The quality of your screen caps is no problem for me - it looks like this in my memory.) I remember a fascination with just looking at Geraldine Chaplin and Anthony Perkins - not understanding motivations - just reading their faces. I remember Berry Berenson and being aware of her relationship with Perkins which was always presented in a somewhat conventional light, but sensing that they were actively (maybe blindly) pushing against the conformity of Hollywood/society and feeling like I had a similar resistance to structure and no idea where it came from. When 9/11 happened, she was part of my reflection.

    Probably in the summer of 1978, I wrote a fictional story about kids hanging around aimlessly in the parking lot of a shopping center. It intentionally didn’t have any action or plot points, just random, bored conversation and suggestions of relationships. I submitted it to a magazine (that didn’t even publish fiction regularly) and I received a polite rejection, unsuitable at this time, or something like that. I wasn’t very disappointed or surprised. I think I was experiencing (still sometimes?) a general confusion about my place in the scheme of things; thrift stores and used book shops. I relate (and weirdly relish) this feeling to a film like “Remember My Name.” I’m sorry this doesn’t relate in a concrete way to the film but I think you understand.

    So I will be watching on Friday to see where it takes me now. Thank you, Ken.


    1. Hi Argyle
      I hope you don’t mind that I’m replying to your two posts collectively here. I got such a charge out of your contribution that I read it twice, and my partner and I shared a brief discussion about it. We concluded that you didn’t write so much about yourself as you so eloquently wrote about us all. That is to say, all young people with intellectual/artistic curiosity, and how part of the growth process involves just what you described: extending beyond our narrow sphere of experience to “like” things we have yet to experience firsthand.
      I know precisely what you me, and both my partner and I harbored similar pretensions in our youth.
      You truly hit on a peculiar phenomenon that I think many film enthusiasts share, and most certainly those who cultivate an appreciation for the arts.
      youthful pretension as being the route to enlightenment is a very charming concept and an incredibly insightful observation.
      Today, market research, movie studios keeping Twitter tabs on what fanboys want (and giving it to them) and the entire internet configured to show individuals a view of a world that conforms with what a person already thinks, is the vogue. But in our developmental years, i agree that it was monumentally important to cast your gaze higher and broader than what you already believed and knew. Call it pretension, perhaps, but I think of it as the soul hungering for call upon itself to rise.
      So I totally get how one can gravitate to films one doesn't easily understand on first viewing. It stimulated your mind and imagination.
      You nicely (and amusingly) tied your memories into your exposure to Altman and the early works of Rudolph...not easy filmmakers by a longshot. And your brief recollections of REMEMBER MY NAME are rather vivid in that they are more the impressions of the people.characters than the plot. I think the people in a film like this are precisely what the film is about.
      All that you recall about Chaplin, Perkins, and Berenson is of such a personal nature that even if you never see the film again, you really do HAVE a part of it that is uniquely yours already, not to be forgotten.

      Seriously, I just love what you wrote and thank you for contributing it to this comments section, for I am positive almost every person reading it will recognize a bit of their younger selves in what you recount. I know I certainly did.
      I hope you enjoy seeing REMEMBER MY NAME when it airs next month on TCM. Thanks, as always, Argyle!

    2. Oh gosh, you got it completely. I will keep my gaze high. And I will keep my gaze here - where your hard work, very evident pleasure, independent taste, humor and humanity inspire me and others to share our varied, personal reactions to these works. I still believe there are kids (and grown-ups) out there who are open to art and challenges and things that take years to start to fall into place. Thank you, Ken! Argyle.

  5. Argyle, yet again. Just realized we are not in July yet! But I can wait!

  6. Hi Ken - how could I not have ever heard of what looks like such an amazing film? I don't think it has ever been on television at all, and I must have passed it by at the Blockbuster back in the day. It looks fascinating, and what a cast! I recently saw Miss Chaplin dining at an outdoor restaurant on South Beach and had to restrain myself from running up to her and gushing about her performances in films as varied as Zhivago to Altman's A Wedding. I let her enjoy her lunch and just admired her from a distance.

    I hope I have the opportunity to see this one...the last time I told you this I had just read your review of Dinah East, which I had never heard of either, but is now one of my top favorite films. I look forward to Remember My Name!

    Thank you for feeding my passion for le cinema, Ken!
    - Chris

    1. Hi Chris
      This movie had such a sporadic original release...I can't imagine it playing anywhere outside of major cities. Combined with its lack of VHS/DVD/ability and minimal cable play, and you've got a movie that can practically be considered a "lost" film.

      The cast alone is fascinating. The theme and treatment mike be more of a personal taste issue (but I once thought that of "3 Women", now it seems to be everybody's favorite.

      How cool to have seen Geraldine Chaplin! It really is a struggle sometimes to know when to leave your favorites alone in public or when it's worth a risk. She's always delivered so many interesting performances.

      I hope you get a chance to see Remember My Name when it airs on TCM next month. You're one I'd certainly recommend it to. Thanks so much for visiting the site, Chris!

    2. It's on my calendar to record July 17 at 1:30 am ET. Thank you Ken!

    3. OMG, just watched it and Miss Chaplin rules! Wow, put this performance right beside Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. This is one of the GREAT stalker films! Gerladine is positively scary and fabulous! And Perkins is such a perfect foil...and to see Woodard, Goldblum and Gunn in marvelous support is a treat. Berry Berenson can't act worth a damn but it is priceless to see her interact with her real-life (gay) hubby.
      Loved this film, would not have known about it except for you, Ken!! Thanks!

    4. Yay! So pleased you got a chance to see this. And indeed, were the film more well-known, I think Chaplin's Emily would be right up there with those you named. I haven't seen a lot of Chpalin's work, but this feels like such a departure. Her not exactly fitting a "type" brings so many things to the character and film. To out-weird Norman Bates is no mean feat (they make the most angular, sharp-edged couple! Like it should hurt when they hug).
      And yes, the cast!
      I'd only seen Berenson/Perkins on awkward talk show appearances before (in which he practically holds her over his head declaring "Look, I'm not gay, folks!") so as you say, it's nice to have this film to see them actually interact. Thanks for the follow-up, Chris!

  7. I couldn't understand one line and it's been driving me nuts. I'd greatly appreciate it if anyone could supply the first part of this line, which is from the scene where Emily confronts Barbara in the kitchen: "______ and you spend twelve years cleaning up the mess."

    1. AnonymousJuly22,

      I actually recorded this and thought the closed captioning might capture the phrase in order to answer your question, but TCM did make closed captions avail for this movie. It sounds like she is saying Papa something but cannot figure it either. Anybody else catch the sentence intro? cheers, NoirFan

    2. Best 1940s film noir answer (guess): "Pop" is prison/noir slang for "kill"/ "tomato" prison/noir slang for woman.
      Emily killed Neil's lover and spent 12 years in jail for it. Possible answer for her response: "Pop a tomato and you spend 12 years cleaning up the mess" - issue is with whether Chaplin abbreviates the word Tomato to "Tomate" (Spanish for Tomato) making the sentence "Pop a tomate and you spend 12 years cleaning up the mess." Much of Chaplin's dialogue is an odd mix of retro prison slang and tough noir dialect.

    3. Thanks Ken, that makes sense. BTW, on my previous question, it should be corrected to say TCM did not provide captioning. On another note, would you happen to know where the white apt building she lived was located in Los Angeles. The film shows Nadine Apartments but this may have been fictional, and alas 30 years ago. IMDB does not list it either. Cheers, NoirFan

    4. Hello NoirFan
      Like many an Altman film (produced or directed), the dialogue is often spoken in such a naturalistic way that captions or subtitles are often the only way one can make out what anyone is saying on first viewing. When I got the DVD of "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" watching it with the subtitles option was like seeing a new film!
      Anyhow, as for "Remember My Name" I'd read somewhere they'd shot in downtown LA for Emily's apartment, but I have no idea where, and I don't recognize the building and the framing's too tight for me to get a sense of what part of downtown. I wonder if it's even still standing now. Sorry I couldn't help, but perhaps someone will read this who knows a little bit more about this movie. Thanks, NoirFan!

    5. Greetings Ken,
      Totally agree re subtitles. So many broadcasts of vintage movies can benefit by providing the viewer w/ subtitles. Personally, my captioning is on by default for viewing older movies, but I find its up to the channel to provide the captioning (many movies on TCM have not broadcast w/ captioning despite my system's default for displaying subtitles). I thoroughly enjoyed your post on this totally unexpected movie (TCM's broadcast of it brought me here) and look forward to browsing some of your others. Cheers, NoirFan

    6. Hello, NoirFan
      Pleased to know you found your way here via the TCM screening, and glad you enjoyed the piece.
      Since I watch a lot of movies on streaming sites, and often do my movie watching in the wee small hours of the morning, I'm always grateful for the captioning of older films and never realized what a boon it is for so many of my '70s favorites. Whether it's my hearing or '70s movie sound recording techniques, but a wealth of plot and character detail have been revealed. If REMEMBER MY NAME ever makes it to DVD, I hope the distributor will take pity on us all and provide a subtitles option. Cheers!

  8. Not long after reading your review, this film popped up on TCM and so I recorded it and watched it. I'm not sure I have your same enthusiasm for the film. I thought Berry Berenson was fine as a typical blue collar wife though I couldn't totally buy Anthony Perkins as a construction worker. It was fun to see Alfre Woodard and Jeff Goldblum in early roles. However, I do agree that Geraldine Chaplin created a very interesting and intense character and part of the attraction of the film was this sense of never knowing precisely WHY she was doing what she did AND what she was going to do next. What I really enjoyed was this odd movie's setting. You don't generally associate complex, layered emotions and behaviors with such mundane contexts (construction sites, grocery stores, etc.) So thanks for the review! I wouldn't have watched it otherwise.

    1. Hi Ron
      I'm flattered that this post inspired you to check this film out! Like a great many of the films I write about "Remember My Name" isn't a sure-fire, crowd-pleaser type, but it IS interesting in precisely the ways you note.
      Perkins himself mirrored your ambivalence in his believability as a construction worker, director Rudolph convincing him to use his insecurity to create the sense that his character has attempted to "hide" in a profession for which he's not particularly well-suited.
      I too get a kick out of seeing Woodard & Goldblum. Much like when early Francis Coopola or George Lucas films provide early-career glimpses of actors who went on to become major stars, it's fun to see if one notices anything special in the naif performance.
      Glad to hear you were able to appreciate Chaplin's performance, and indeed, the fact that we didn't know WHY she was doing what she was doing, compounded by the fact that she appeared capable of ANYTHING, gave the film a real tension.
      Perceptive observation you make about the effectiveness of this kind of drama/thriller playing out in such mundane settings. That's really a key part of the film's appeal to me.
      Thanks very much for coming back and sharing your thoughts on this film. I enjoyed reading it a great deal.

  9. It was great fun reading this, Ken !!!! I haven't been laughing very much lately and your humor, or it's probably you're such a great writer, made me really laugh tonight.

    It's a bit strange that you mentioned the SayHerName campaign. There is an HBO series called The Deuce. The ending cliff hanger showed a black prostitute, who is slightly overweight, having to argue with a client who takes his money back because she is a "bad lay". when she realizes that she should let it go, the man says to her, "you're nothing but a whore, Thunder Thighs". Ruby yells at him, "oh hell, no!!! That's it. I gotta name and you better remember it. My name is RUBY !!!!! I'll say it again. RUBY!!!" In a second, without missing a beat the client pushes her out the window that is directly behind her, she falls to her death. the cliff hanger got a lot of heat from the audiences who were offended by the whole thing. but i think it had to do with humanizing a woman who slept with men for a living. She fought back. She demanded that she be remembered. And of course, sometimes, when you do pay a horrible price. once again, your words made me think about the bigger picture. thank you.
    but i just loved reading this. your opening, telling your story about your sisters and you, is just the best. You give your stories great heart and humor. and i could just see your one sister getting mad at you for messing up the timing to enter the movie. LOL....oh what fun.
    I landed on this review by accident because i went back to read your review on Mahogany. A friend and I were talking about it on Facebook and I wanted to read it again because i loved it so much. (and again, your descriptions are hilarious, so that's great fun)
    I'm sure I have seen Geraldine Chaplin before, but can't remember what movie. She has a very unique look...(I want to say, as Louis Malle said about Jeanne Moreau, "Moreau's intensity, has partly to do with her "ugly/beautiful" face. if she was just another "beauty" then her power as an actress wouldn't be the same". so, that's what I see when i see (or saw in the past) pictures of her. I hope I don't speak out of turn, but Karen Black's unique expressions and "look" is like that.It's one part of many that makes her so great.
    But, yet again, i know I will read this again if i need to laugh (and NOT laughing AT YOU, but how you describe films and actors and perspective). my favorite part of this one is when you speak of "getting back at someone is such an exhausting and colossal waste of time". That is the best.
    I haven't written back in awhile. There is just so much drama going on all the time. In our own lives, helping other people in their lives or just watching the never ending agony of....certain leaders and congressional hearings...well, you know what i mean. I lose track of what is important sometimes.
    Again, thank you !!!! Autumn is finally here !!!!!

  10. Very quickly...i wanted to edit the part about Jeanne Moreau and the "ugly/beautiful" section. that came out totally wrong. and though Malle said that about Moreau, I know that you love Geraldine Chaplain and Karen Black, so to attach that to them....was a bad idea. apologies !!!

    1. Hi again
      Honestly, no apologies needed. For two reasons: 1) I do belive both women are beautiful in unusual ways, so Malle's comment about Moreau is apt (to me, anyway) when applied to Karen Black and Geraldine Chaplin. 2) I'm 60 years old. I would feel pretty bad about myself if I reached this age and still clung to a kind of fanboy sensitivity when it comes to artists I admire (strangers) and others harboring contrary or conflicting opinions of them. The protectiveness and possessiveness surrounding celebrity and fan culture is in our society is toxic, in my opinion, and while I gush and fawn over those I like, I seriously harbor no need for anyone to feel the same, and they are in no way in need of protecting or defending.
      However, I do appreciate your sensitivity in the matter, a good sign of your character and antithetical to the average internet exchange in this age of the 72 year-old Troll-In-Chief occupying the WH. Thanks, cinemarocks!

  11. I'm so pleased you enjoyed reading this!
    Like you, I find myself treasuring the moments in my day where I'm not consumed with an "awareness" of the current state of affairs. Certain favorite films are hard to watch now (Cabaret-for obvious reasons, "Just Tell Me What You Want"- about an obnoxious rich bully) and I gravitate to things that make me laugh, too.
    I appreciate that you "get" and perhaps relate to that anecdote I shared about what it was like going to the movies with my sisters. Most of what I write about has a humorous edge usually only my partner sees or understands, so I am flattered that some of my arcane references and asides catch your attention.
    I've heard of that HBO series you mentioned...BOY! That sounds like a strong scene and a powerful season finale. A terrific scene to bring up in context of this film 40-year-old film. The demand not to be dismissed is just as much a struggle today for all marginalized people, women in particular.

    I agree with you about the "looks" of women like Chaplin and Karen Black. I think of the kind of homogeneous idea of pretty that fuels beauty contests or young women who start going in for plastic surgery to achieve the current porn/real housewives aesthetic; and I'm grateful for the kind of beauty that brings with it intensity, intelligence, and originality. Great faces I like...who needs the banality of pretty?

    It pleases me that you check out this site now and again, and please don't ever feel that commenting is expected or a requirement. You made my day by saying you revisited my MAHOGANY post, and I am grateful to you for contributing such a fascinating comment to this post. Humane and thoughtful comments like yours are why people read the comments section of my blog so thoroughly, when on most sites one avoids reading comments because of the endless trolling and cruelty.
    I thank you. And happy Autumn! (hope it's cooler where you are!)

  12. Hello!
    Here's the other film I just watched, but in this case I wasn't familiar with it. And unlike prior LCD viewings, once I saw who was in it I decided to forego reading the post first and go into the film blind.


    First, let's tackle Alan Rudolph. Prior to my viewing of Remember My Name, I decided to view Welcome to L.A. first. His first work definitely feels more like 'Altman Jr.' with all of the overlapping characters. I had to laugh when I read your comment about Richard Baskin's music in the film, as I thought it was pretty dreadful. (Gee, I wonder why it never got reissued on CD?) If someone ever wanted a piece best described as "pretentious caucasian funereal wankery", I'd hand them a copy of the lp. (Although it would lack the added visual of Baskin's large Howard Stern-esque mane.) I'll chalk Parker's shortcomings in Welcome To L.A. due to being a newbie, but he really ups his game considerably with Remember My Name just two years later.

    The person who easily stands out amongst the overcrowded cast of Welcome To L.A. is Geraldine Chaplin...which got me thinking how in the epically large cast of Altman's Nashville, I find Chaplin also is one of the standouts (which is quite the feat there). Although none of her prior work could prepare me for what unfolded in Remember My Name. Chaplin is genuinely chilling in this role. The whole sequence with Chaplin and Berenson in the house is a tour de force in tension. As you point out, Chaplin's character is ever morphing, with that very rich psychotic streak prone to rising to the surface at any moment. It's a brilliant performance that deserves a much better fate than no proper video release.

    Another large surprise was seeing just how little chemistry Perkins and Berenson have on-screen. Based on this alone I'd never guess they were a real couple, let alone married for a few years. Does one have to chalk it up to Perkins' lack of comfort in other aspects of the role? I guess if they actually appeared comfortable it wouldn't work as well for the disconnect the two characters are supposed to have. Regardless, I found it odd that the minute Chaplin enters the holding cell for the big scene the two have together the energy between the two veteran actors is very apparent. Perhaps one must also partly chalk that up to Berenson's lack of experience, but in her defense she's doable with what little she's given to work with, especially from her husband. Goldblum and Woodard are icing on the cake, both excellent.

    Unlike Baskin's contributions to Parker's prior film, Alberta Hunter's songs are a wonderful addition. It's nice to finally put context to a vinyl soundtrack I've seen in the bins for years, and will now acquire a copy of.

    If this film ever gets a revival screening here in L.A. I am so there, if only to see it widescreen! Thanks for the introduction, Ken.

    1. Hi Pete
      So smart of you to approach this film blind. The strength of the film lies in it not ever being quite what you think it will be, so that was a wise choice. Very pleased, too, to hear you responded to Geraldine Chaplin’s standout performance. Given the big starlet push at the beginning of her career, she has established herself as one of the screen’s most unique and resourceful character actors.

      I agree with you about the marked lack of chemistry between Berenson & Perkins. It’s a phenomenon that happens more times than not with real-life couples paired on screen (Madonna & Sean Penn come to mind), but you’re right that in this film it winds up feeding into the narrative in positive ways that Rudolph didn’t intend (it creates a feeling of his character being an impostor in his new life).
      As you note, the scenes with Chaplin & Perkins have a vibe and chemistry that is obvious from the start.

      This is my all-time favorite Geraldine Chaplin performance, so I’m happy to read you found her work to be as unexpectedly chilling and layered as I did.

      During quarantine I’ve been watching a lot of those limited series on Netflix, and I notice that many of them have invested seriously in cramming their soundtracks with music that comments (ironically of otherwise) on the action. Since it’s all a matter of taste, when i like it, it’s never as intrusive as when it grates on my nerves.
      The music in REMEMBER MY NAME is listenable to me on its own, so I really like how Rudolph uses it in this film. But Richard Baskin…really don’t get me started. The hairs on my neck stand up every time my mind goes to how much I want to enjoy WELCOME TO LA and that damn soundtrack works like fingernails on the blackboard to me. So, of course, I smiled a little inside while reading you comments on Baskin’s…contribution… to that film.

      I’m not nearly as open to new films as you seem to be, so I applaud your checking out so many with an open mind. And I thank you for coming back here and sharing what you discover with all of us here. Much appreciated, Pete!

  13. I just watched this via TCM, and what a gem, mostly due to Geraldine Chaplin's performance. I don't quite understand the ending, as it seemed to be building up to something else. This could've easily come off as some trashy exploitation film but the direction and acting made it so much better. I wish more people talked about it (I usually try to find a podcast of people talking about it but there is NONE)

    1. Hello, Mark
      So late with this response, but I thank you for reading this post and contributing your thoughts on this, one of my favorite films. Chaplin's performance really is a standout, and I agree the film achieves a tone with its performances and direction that keeps this "revenge" tale from ever slipping into the sensational or exploitative.
      Like you, I have come across very little discourse about the film online, but now that's it available on DVD and TCM seems to show it at least once a year, perhaps it will gain more notoriety. I too think it's a gem.