For today’s recent Blu-ray release (and Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon entry), we’ve got another Deanna Durbin film from 1938, That Certain Age, also starring Melvyn Douglas!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Pups Is Pups (1930)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The Classicflix Restorations, Volume 2 (1930-1931) from Classicflix)
(Length: 18 minutes, 39 seconds)
Farina (Allen Hoskins) gets a job as a page at a pet show, and the rest of the Gang get their pets ready to enter in the show. This was another fun short, with all the various goings-on. While the main “story” of this one is focused on the kids preparing for the pet show, the real focus seems to be on Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) as he plays with his five puppies (which have been trained to come when he rings a bell). The other humorous recurring bit is Dorothy DeBorba (making her series debut) getting all dressed up, only to go jump in a mud puddle. Overall, a very fun entry in the series, which continues to suck me in!
And Now For The Main Feature…
To help some poor Boy Scouts go to camp, Alice Fullerton (Deanna Durbin) offers to help put on a show with her Boy Scout boyfriend, Kenneth “Ken” Warren (Jackie Cooper). However, they run into trouble because they want to use the guest cottage at her home as a rehearsal space, and her father, newspaper publisher Gilbert Fullerton (John Halliday), has effectively ordered his reporter Vincent Bullitt (Melvyn Douglas) to come stay there to work on a series of articles. Alice and her friends are furious when they are chased out by the servants as they prepare the cottage for Vincent, but Alice gets an idea when her mother, Dorothy Fullerton (Irene Rich), says that the idea is to provide Vincent with peace and quiet so that he can do his work. When Vincent arrives, Alice and her friends try to make the cottage seem haunted. At first, Vincent is scared, but quickly realizes he’s being fooled when he finds a wire being used to move some furniture around. He gets them all in the cottage, and finds out why they are trying to scare him away. When he admits that he doesn’t want to be there himself, they all come up with a plan to fool Alice’s father so that Vincent can leave. However, when Alice learns that Vincent is a little sick with a fever, she makes sure that he has to stay. In the process, she develops a crush on Vincent, and starts spending a lot of time with him. Ken starts getting jealous over this development, and offers Alice’s part in the show to Mary Lee (Peggy Stewart), who had also offered them some rehearsal space. However, Ken still wants to make up with Alice, and sends his younger sister, Butch (Juanita Quigley), to tell her so. She doesn’t find Alice, who is busy buying a birthday present for Vincent. Instead, Butch finds Alice’s diary, in which she tells of her feelings for Vincent, and Butch proceeds to show it to Ken. At Vincent’s birthday party, Alice tries to wear a more grown-up dress. Upon seeing her in it, her parents force her to go back up and change (which she does, while also refusing to come back). Ken brings her diary back to her, admitting to having seen some of it, and she admits to her feelings for Vincent (and how she views Ken as her friend). Despondent, Ken fakes relief and prepares to leave the party. Before he leaves, though, he tells Vincent off (thereby revealing to Vincent that Alice has feelings for him). Unsure of what to do, Vincent tells her parents, and they all try to figure out how to help her past this infatuation. But will they be able to help her get over Vincent before Ken up and joins the Navy?
That Certain Age had four new songs written for it. Those songs are “My Own,” “Be A Good Scout,” You’re As Pretty As A Picture” and the title tune, all of which were written by Jimmy McHugh and Harold Adamson. Two other songs, “Les Filles de Cadiz” (by Léo Delibes) and the Aria from “Romeo et Juliette” (by Charles Gounod) were also included. I’ll admit, after the last two Deanna Durbin films I saw (three if we go all the way back to It Started With Eve), I was slightly disappointed with the music here, as none of it really stuck with me that strongly. I’ll admit, after listening to them again, that I did like “My Own” (which was nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar, one of two nominations this film received) as well as “You’re As Pretty As A Picture.” They’re not as good as some of the other songs she’s done, but I think they are still worth listening to. Realistically, though, I love listening to Deanna sing, even with less memorable music, so it’s only a minor complaint with this movie.
So far, though, of the six Deanna Durbin films I’ve seen, this one was the weakest (but, if you’ll notice my score on it, I still have a VERY favorable opinion of it). One of my biggest problems is that it seems to be fairly similar to the later Nice Girl?, and that film had, in my mind, better music and better comedy. Don’t get me wrong, this film certainly has its moments in the comedic territory. The section where all the kids try to “haunt” the guest cottage in an effort to get Melvyn Douglas’s Vincent Bullitt out of there is quite funny (especially after he realizes what’s going on). There’s more fun later on when watching the three adults trying to dissuade Alice’s interest in Vincent (and how their attempts backfire). I still had a very enjoyable time with this one, even if the music and comedy weren’t quite as strong as in some of the others. It’s still one worth recommending, in my book!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios. This film has a pretty good transfer for the Blu-ray release. There are some scratches and other dirt here and there, but nothing that would seriously mar the viewing experience. Like Nice Girl? and Mad About Music, this was one of the nine titles Kino Lorber Studio Classics licensed for Blu-ray releases before being dropped (along with three others) when what was intended to be the first volume of three 3-film sets bombed. I’m certainly glad that this one made it out just the same (and, much to my delight, no sooner had I finished watching this movie than the other three dropped titles were announced for Blu-ray release at the beginning of this month, along with a fourth Deanna Durbin title that hadn’t been licensed out)! A highly recommended Blu-ray release!
Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
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List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Melvyn Douglas – Ninotchka (1939)