Repeat Performance (1948). Joan Leslie plays Sheila Page, a popular stage actress who kills her playwright husband on December 31st. Distraught over what she has done, she goes to see her emotionally fragile friend, poet William Williams (Basehart). Sheila tells William that she wishes for a second chance—if she could live the year again, she would do things differently. When the clock strikes midnight, the year begins over again. Will Sheila be able to alter the ultimate course of destiny? This surprising “B” picture is probably my favorite New Year’s Eve film. It was remade for TV in 1989 as Turn Back the Clock.
The Poseidon Adventure (1972). An appropriate subtitle would be: What You Don’t Want to Be Doing on New Year’s Eve. On the last day of the year, a tidal wave capsizes the luxury ocean liner Poseidon. Gene Hackman plays the tough-minded priest that tries to guide the all-star cast to safety.
Holiday Inn (1942). Yes, it’s best known as the film that introduced “White Christmas”, but Holiday Inn also featured Bing Crosby singing Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Start the New Year Right.”
Entertaining romances that climaxed with New Year’s Eve confessions of love include: Holiday (1938), The Apartment (1960), When Harry Met Sally (1989), and Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001).
Other memorable scenes include: Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) throwing a depressing New Year’s Eve party for two in Sunset Boulevard (1950); Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray realizing they’ve fallen in love in Remember the Night (1940); and Charlie Chaplin, as the Tramp, fantasizing about hosting a big New Year’s Eve party in The Gold Rush (1925).
Finally, the Café friends on Facebook added Showboat, After the Thin Man, and New Year’s Evil. What other films featuring New Year’s Eve scenes can you add?