Just before the turn of the New Year of 1947, renowned stage actress Sheila Page (Joan Leslie) shoots her emotionally abusive husband Barney, having reached her limit regarding his philandering and alcoholism. She regrets it immediately, wishing for the opportunity to go back in time to avoid making this mistake. Miraculously, as the clock chimes midnight, her wish is granted, and she finds she has been transported back to the beginning of 1946.
Alfred L. Werker’s drama plays like a blend of It’s a Wonderful Life with Groundhog Day, via the well-known trope of errant husbands. There is no doubt of the protagonist’s devotion to her cheating husband, even if, like Bette Davis’ character in Of Human Bondage, he doesn’t display any qualities that merit such love.
Despite Barney being a total cad, it is revealed that he, a playwright, gave Sheila her first big break as an actress, and thus, her patience towards him is heavily inflected with gratitude. But as her close friend William notes, ‘You can’t feel grateful to him forever. That’s going to wear thin at some point’.
Whilst Sheila’s success as an actress is part of the reason why she loves him so much, it’s precisely this why Barney’s so embittered towards her. Just as his play was the springboard for Sheila’s career, it was also the last good thing he produced, and watching his wife thrive whilst his own career stagnates fomented increasing feelings of bitterness towards her.