Well, I’ve made it to my 300th post! I’ll admit, normally I would be trying to do a special list for a milestone like this, but, honestly, the one I would have planned for this I moved ahead to my 250th post (Top 5 Dance Routines I Would Love To Learn). I haven’t come up with anything else since, so we’ll just celebrate the milestone, while continuing on with one of my regular reviews! This time, it’s the Deanna Durbin film It Started With Eve from 1941, which also stars Charles Laughton and Robert Cummings! So, we’ll get through the requisite theatrical short, and then it’s on with the show!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Don’t Hustle An Ant With Muscle(1970)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 9 seconds)
The ant tries taking some vitamins, which gives him super strength against the aardvark. This one is a lot of fun, with the ant really turning the tables on the aardvark. It’s hilarious seeing him eventually force the aardvark to act as a waiter for him. Of course, you know those vitamins have to wear off after a while, but in the meantime, there are laughs aplenty as the aardvark keeps trying to get the ant! This is one I’m always glad to revisit!
And Now For The Main Feature…
The wealthy Jonathan Reynolds (Charles Laughton) is dying, and his son, Johnny Reynolds, Jr. (Robert Cummings), comes to see him on his deathbed as he returns from Mexico City. His father wishes to see Johnny’s fiancee, Gloria, before he dies, but Johnny had let Gloria and her mother go to a hotel. Johnny rushes off to the hotel to fulfill his father’s dying wish, but when he arrives there, he finds that both of them have gone out (and he has no idea when they will return). In desperation, Johnny offers to pay hat check girl Anne Terry (Deanna Durbin) if she could pretend to be Gloria for a little while. She accepts, and Jonathan, upon seeing her, is thrilled to see that this “Gloria” looks like the right woman for his son, before he falls asleep. So, Johnny pays Anne, and they part ways.
Oh, but you know it’s not going to be that easy. The next morning, Jonathan wakes up, feeling better, and wants to see Gloria again. Johnny is flustered, and tells Jonathan’s doctor, Harvey (Walter Catlett) the truth. The doctor warns Johnny not to tell his father the truth, as the shock might still be enough to kill him, so Johnny tries to seek out Anne before she leaves town. He is successful in catching her at the train station, and she agrees to come back to help. However, when they get back, Jonathan is being visited by the Bishop (Guy Kibbee) and his assistant, and they discuss a potential wedding. After the Bishop departss, Johnny leaves Anne there, and tries to go tell Gloria Pennington (Margaret Tallichet) and her mother (Catharine Doucet) the truth about what’s going on. Anne starts to develop more interest in helping out as she learns of Jonathan’s connections to major people in the opera world (since her attempts at a singing career hadn’t been going well). Jonathan, upon getting back out of bed, starts planning a party for Anne, but Johnny tries to figure out a way to “break up” with Anne and introduce the real Gloria. His attempt backfires, as Anne is determined to further her career. At one point, Jonathan learns the truth when he overhears one of their arguments, but pretends not to know. Anne starts to develop feelings for Johnny, and tries to tell Jonathan the truth. Wanting her to stick around, he manages to keep her from doing so. On the night of the party, Anne decides not to come. Johnny claims she has a headache, but Jonathan tries to call her. On the phone, she tells him to leave her alone, but Jonathan comes to her apartment (and in doing so, reveals he knows the truth). Not wanting her to leave town, he asks her to go out with him one last time. But, can he convince her to stay (and will his son come to his senses about her)?
It Started With Eve was, to a degree, the end of an era. It was the last film that producer Joe Pasternak did for Universal Studios before he switched over to MGM, and, as such, it was the last film actress Deanna Durbin did for both him and director Henry Koster, both of whom had helped her become a star starting with Three Smart Girls in 1936. Onscreen, she was paired up with Robert Cummings (with whom she had worked previously in Three Smart Girls Grow Up and Spring Parade) and Charles Laughton (with whom she would later do Because Of Him). She enjoyed good relationships with both men. It Started With Eve would prove to be a hit (and one of her best-loved films by audiences), and it was the only time one of her films premiered at Radio City Music Hall.
Another Deanna Durbin film, and another one that I enjoyed getting the chance to see! Here, she had moved on to a more adult role (compared to the other two that I’ve seen), but some of her youthful enthusiasm still shows through (and some of the humor that comes with it)! This time, I also found one of the songs that she sang getting stuck in my head! Ok, it’s “When I Sing,” which is the “Garland Waltz” from Sleeping Beauty (you know, “Once Upon A Dream”) with different lyrics than I’m used to (but I sure don’t mind having these stuck in my head).
The plot itself may not be anything to write home about, with one person acting as a fake significant other for the parent (and then they both fall for each other). But, as I’ve said before, the fun is in how well done the story is, and this film does it right! As I said, Deanna Durbin is fun here, but I’d say that Charles Laughton outshines her here in terms of humor! Especially when he’s dealing with Walter Catlett’s Doctor Harvey! His refusal to listen to the doctor’s orders is hilarious, as he slowly but surely drives the doctor crazy! Plain and simple, this movie is a lot of fun, and one I’m very glad I got the chance to see (and look forward to, hopefully, enjoying many more viewings)! So I would certainly highly recommend giving this one a try!
This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 from Kino Lorber. Once again, it’s just an HD scan, not a full restoration. Some specks and dirt to be found, but nothing too terrible. The Blu-ray looks good enough to my eyes, and it’s certainly the way that I would suggest seeing this movie!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1
The Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 set includes the movies One Hundred Men And A Girl, Three Smart Girls Grow Up and It Started With Eve. None of these three films have been given full restorations, but the HD scans this set is working with are all pretty good nonetheless. My own opinion is that this set would be well worth it for any one of these movies, never mind all three. I came into it with no familiarity with actress Deanna Durbin, and now I want to seek out more of her films. It is sad that Kino couldn’t include Three Smart Girls instead of or in addition to its sequel, but from what I’ve heard, that has more to do with Three Smart Girls not having an available HD scan when they licensed these from Universal Studios. Sadly, the chances of that happening are now low, as this set (which, as the “Volume 1” indicates, was to be the first of three 3-film sets devoted to the actress) was a very poor seller, and the remaining six Deanna Durbin films that Kino licensed were dropped as a result. Granted, I know I didn’t help (otherwise, you would have been seeing these reviews in late June or July 2020, right after the set was released, instead of after the Christmas season), so I know I don’t have much room to complain, but I hope somebody is still willing to take a chance, since the other six should have had HD scans done already. But, in the meantime, I very heartily recommend this set!
Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
*ranked #5 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Nice Girl? (1941) – Deanna Durbin – Can’t Help Singing (1944)
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939) – Charles Laughton – Because Of Him (1946)
One Night In The Tropics (1940) – Robert Cummings – The Bride Wore Boots (1946)
Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) – Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1
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