We’re here to finish up our celebration of actress Deanna Durbin as the Star Of The Month, and what better way to do it than with her 1948 film For The Love Of Mary, co-starring Edmond O’Brien, Don Taylor and Jeffrey Lynn!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Ski For Two (1944)
(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)
(Length: 6 minutes, 48 seconds)
As he looks through various travel brochures, Woody Woodpecker finds one for the Swiss Chard Lodge which promises good food, so off he goes. When the proprietor, Wally Walrus, throws him out for not having a reservation, Woody decides he’s still going to get the food he wanted! This was another fun one, due to the adversarial relationship of Woody and Wally! Woody also had another song as he skied through the snow, which added to the fun. I’ll admit, for my first time seeing it, I’m mad at myself for my timing in watching it, as Woody dressed himself up as Santa Claus in one of his attempts to get at the food (and I had made the choice to briefly stop watching through the set after The Beach Nut right before Christmas itself, so I saw this one a few weeks after the fact). As much as I enjoyed it, though, I know I have another fun short to watch around Christmastime when it comes around again!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Mary Peppertree (Deanna Durbin) has recently left her job with the Supreme Court, and started working as a telephone operator at the White House, where her father Timothy Peppertree (Griff Barnett) works as a guard. Her first day is spent fielding calls from marine biologist David Paxton (Don Taylor), who is trying to talk to the President (but she and the other girls at the switchboard have been told not to let his call through), as well as calls from her ex, Justice Department attorney Phillip Manning (Jeffrey Lynn) and from several Supreme Court justices trying to help the couple reconcile. When they all meet at a restaurant owned by immigrant Gustav Heindel (Hugo Haas), Mary explains to Phillip that she broke up with him because, when he was caught out with another woman (for his job), she wasn’t the least bit jealous about it, and felt that, for them to be an actual couple, she should have been at least a little jealous. In discussing her first day at the White House, they are overheard by David in the next booth, who promises Mary that he will get through to the President despite her interference. The next morning, David shows up just outside the gate to her job, where he tries to apologize to Mary. She quickly realizes that he is insincere, and leaves him there. The incident causes her to have the hiccups, and when the President talks to her at the switchboard, they get real chummy with each other as he helps her get over the hiccups. Phillip calls Mary at the switchboard to make sure that she is going with him to Supreme Court Justice Peabody’s (Harry Davenport) party that night, but she decides to stay home. As she is leaving work, she sees David trying to get in, and the guard, who sees that they know each other, asks her to drive him away (otherwise, David will be arrested). They drive a short distance before they decide to part ways, but not before Mary offers him a chance to talk to the President’s executive secretary, Harvey Elwood (Ray Collins), if he will take her to Justice Peabody’s party that night (which he agrees to do). However, she is picked up that night by Lieutenant Tom Farrington (Edmond O’Brien), who was sent to take her to the party on the President’s orders (since she hadn’t unplugged from his phone when she was talking with Phillip). She has fun with Tom at the party, as his presence makes Phillip boil over with jealousy. When Tom takes her home, they are greeted by David, who was waiting there to keep his end of the bargain. The next day, Mary has lunch with David, and promises him that her ex, Phillip, can help him with his problem. However, Tom again shows up for Mary that evening to take her to a movie at the White House (again, on the President’s orders, but this time to stop her from seeing the one-track minded David). David meets with Phillip at the same time, but Phillip is completely distracted by the idea of Mary going on another date with Tom, prompting David to consider leaving town since everybody there only seems to be concerned with Mary’s affairs. Meanwhile, newspaper publisher Samuel Litchfield (Frank Conroy) complains about the situation to Elwood (since the publisher’s daughter was dating Tom until the President ordered him to start going out with Mary), which forces Elwood to consider helping David out with his problem (and convince him to go out with Mary). With all this attention, will Mary be able to figure out which guy she likes? And will any of the troubles that the men are facing be dealt with successfully?
When he made his move to MGM around 1941, producer Joe Pasternak (who was a producer for many of Deanna Durbin’s earliest films at Universal Pictures) had plans to make a movie called Washington Girl, which was based on a story by Ruth Finney. That never happened, and Universal ended up buying the rights to the story from MGM as a film for Deanna Durbin. At first, it was to be produced by Karl Tunberg, directed by William A. Seiter and would also co-star Donald O’Connor, but the producer and director ended up doing Up In Central Park with Deanna (and Donald O’Connor was assigned to a different movie). The film title was changed to For The Love Of Mary (which was originally supposed to be the title of the previous year’s Something In The Wind). The film had mediocre results at the box office, and Universal sued Deanna for money they had advanced her. After negotiations, she agreed to do three more films for them, but they let her contract expire, and so she left Hollywood for good.
While she apparently didn’t like this film, I will happily admit that I enjoyed it! For me, the comedy here was very much what made this movie so much fun, as we see her various suitors drive each other nuts, helped along by various government officials! It’s an overall ridiculous idea as to how the government officials (including the U.S. President) get themselves all worked up about one girl’s love life (or at least, humorous compared to what most would complain about the government trying to do nowadays). The music is nothing major, although it’s still fun to listen to Deanna sing, including the song “Moonlight Bay” and particularly “Largo Al Factotum” (from The Barber Of Seville). It may not be anywhere near as good as some of Deanna’s earliest films, but it’s an entertaining film just the same (and certainly better in my eyes than what she thought of it)! So, yes, I definitely recommend this one!
What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… For The Love Of Mary (1948)
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios. This one seems to have an HD scan, which looks pretty good with the vast majority of dust and dirt cleaned up. This was another one of the nine Deanna Durbin films that Kino Lorber had licensed (and one of the six they later dropped when their first three-film set bombed). I know I’m a broken record about that bit of information, but, as a new fan of Deanna Durbin trying to appeal to her fans both new and old, releases like this need to sell, especially if we want more, including at least one or two that seem to have legal clearance issues preventing release on home media (and I have no idea whether those issues are also keeping those films off TV or streaming, either). I think this film, like all of the other Deanna Durbin films that have made it to Blu-ray, looks as good as one could hope for, and I certainly hope more are coming!
Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
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