“Star Of The Month (February 2022)” Featuring Deanna Durbin in… Something In The Wind (1947)

We’re back again today for another film featuring this month’s Star, Deanna Durbin!  This time, it’s her 1947 film Something In The Wind. The film itself was based on a story by Fritz Rotter and Charles O’Neal called For the Love of Mary. That was originally planned as this film’s title, until they changed it to its current title, and saved that one for what ended up being her final film a year later. This movie also stars Donald O’Connor and John Dall!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Beach Nut (1944)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 50 seconds)

Wally Walrus has come to the beach to relax, but Woody Woodpecker keeps pestering him. This one was quite entertaining! It was Wally Walrus’ first appearance in the series, and he seems to be a worthy foe to Woody! It’s hard not to feel sorry for Wally, who was continually attacked by Woody without provocation (at first), and kept losing no matter what he did. Still, Woody’s antics were quite hilarious, and I look forward to further pairings for these two!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Mary Collins (Deanna Durbin) is a singing DJ on the radio, and has been trying to find a sponsor for her show.  One day, she is told that somebody wants to meet with her, and, assuming that the man is a potential sponsor, she agrees to the meeting.  However, it turns out to be the wealthy Donald Read (John Dall), who essentially accuses her of being his late grandfather Henry’s mistress, and he offers her a cash settlement so that she would make no claims to the family estate.  She tells him that she has no idea who he is (or who his grandfather was), and storms out of there.  At home, she finds out from her Aunt Mary Collins (Jean Adair) that her aunt had been a governess for the family, and loved Henry.  However, the Read family didn’t approve, and she was fired.  When she had to start taking care of her niece Mary (after the younger Mary’s parents died), the aunt had turned to Henry for financial help, which he gave her.  Meanwhile, Donald reported the younger Mary’s refusal to settle to his Grandma Read (Margaret Wycherly), who then demands that he and his cousin Charlie Read (Donald O’Connor) bring Mary to her the next day.  At the radio station, the two kidnap her, and bring her to the Read estate.  She still refuses to settle, and tries to tell them the truth, but they won’t listen, as they’re worried about the potential of a scandal derailing Donald’s planned marriage to Clarissa Prentice (Helena Carter).  Since they won’t listen, she demands a million dollars to help support her and her “baby.”  The Reads reluctantly agree, but want Mary to stay at the estate until their lawyers can draw up the legal papers.  When Clarissa shows up unexpectedly, Mary is sent off with cousin Charlie, who reveals that he knows that Mary is a fake. Instead of revealing that to the rest of the family, Charlie asks for Mary’s help in breaking up Donald’s engagement to Clarissa (since he is in love with Clarissa himself), and Mary agrees to help him. Under Charlie’s advice, Mary flirts with Donald at a fashion show (that Clarissa and her father are also attending). In between Mary’s attempts to ruin his relationship with Clarissa and Mary’s indecisiveness about actually accepting the cash settlement, Donald is getting quite frustrated. As a result, Charlie puts forth a different idea, suggesting that Donald try romancing Mary instead to get her to agree. Donald tries all right, and it works too well, as he and Mary find themselves falling for each other. Grandma Read sees this, and decides to have a talk with Mary. She threatens to disinherit Donald (which doesn’t bother Mary, since she really doesn’t want the money, anyways), and questions whether Donald himself would be happy that way. That’s enough for Mary to reconsider her relationship with Donald, and she decides to leave. Donald’s opportunistic uncle, Chester Read (Charles Winninger), has Mary thrown in jail for extortion, and offers to help get her out in exchange for half the check from his family (an offer which Mary turns down). She tries turning to Donald for help, but the Read family attorneys get there first with the check, and Mary accepts it, if only to break up with Donald by convincing him that she was only after the money. Will Donald and Mary get together yet, or will Grandma Read get her way?

It’s been said that Deanna Durbin hated the last three films she made (a group that includes Something In The Wind), but I found this one to be quite fun! Deanna is still in good voice here, and I think that she had at least three good songs here, including “The Turntable Song,” “Miserere” and the title tune. From a comedic standpoint, “Miserere” was fun, as she sings with the guard at the jail (all the while trying to get the key to her cell off of him so that she could make a phone call), and, when all is said and done, the guard knew what she was trying to do! The rest of the fun is in watching her pick on John Dall’s Donald Read (since he comes across as very annoying right from the start, and arguably quite deserving of everything that she dishes out to him). I will agree that it’s not one of her best movies, but I still think she is good enough to make it worthwhile.

That being said, I think Donald O’Connor steals the movie (in what was his first film back after serving in the army). His biggest moment is the “Make ‘Em Laugh”-esque “I Love A Mystery” song, with him doing some of his stunts and pratfalls, showing what some of the heroes in mystery stories go through! I certainly enjoyed that song quite a bit (and he even brought in Deanna for a little bit of dancing)! He also gets to do some comedic stuff for the song “Happy Go Lucky And Free” as well, but that’s not quite as much fun. The only complaint I have is that the film tells us that he likes Helena Carter’s Clarissa, but we never see much of a relationship between them (and, quite frankly, I would have much preferred to see him end up with Deanna Durbin’s Mary, especially since he was the male lead of the film, billing-wise). It’s not a perfect film by any means, but I enjoyed it like I have with all the Deanna Durbin films that I’ve seen so far (so, yes, I do recommend it)!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Something In The Wind (1947)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios.  The Blu-ray seems to be using an HD scan that looks pretty good.  There are some semi-frequent appearances of spots and dirt (more so than there has been on some of the other Deanna Durbin films that I’ve seen up to this point), but nothing so terrible or egregious as to make the film unwatchable.  Certainly as good as one can hope for in this case (since it was one of the nine films Kino Lorber Studio Classics had originally licensed and then was one of the six dropped after disappointing sales on their first three-film set of Deanna Durbin films), and certainly recommended for fans of the movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Because Of Him (1946)Deanna DurbinFor The Love Of Mary (1948)

Donald O’Connor – Singin’ In The Rain (1952)

John Dall – Gun Crazy (1950)

Little Nellie Kelly (1940) – Charles Winninger

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)

We’re back for another movie featuring actress and singer Deanna Durbin! This time, it’s her 1939 film Three Smart Girls Grow Up, which also stars Charles Winninger, Nan Grey and Helen Parrish! As always, we’ve got a theatrical short to start things off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Froze Nose Knows (1970)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

With an unexpected snowfall, the aardvark goes hunting for the ant. This was another fun cartoon, making use of the weather for some of its jokes. The “predator vs. prey” aspects of the series are still very much in evidence here, but that’s not a bad thing! And, of course, we have a bear that decides to hibernate in the aardvark’s cave, which adds a little bit of fun. Certainly a cartoon I enjoy watching!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Sisters Penelope “Penny” (Deanna Durbin), Joan (Nan Grey) and Katherine “Kay” Craig (Helen Parrish) are looking forward to a party being given by their mother (Nella Walker). At the party, Joan becomes engaged to Richard Watkins (William Lundigan), which saddens Kay, as she was in love with Richard, too (but she can’t bring herself to mention this to anyone). Penny sees Kay’s sadness and tries to alert everyone, but nobody listens to her. After talking with their butler, Binns (Ernest Cossart), Penny gets an idea. The next day, when she goes in for her singing lesson, she looks around at the men there, and when she spies musician Harry Loren (Robert Cummings) (a bachelor), she invites him over for dinner that night, hoping he will catch Kay’s eye. However, when he comes over, he and Joan start flirting with each other, which angers Penny, and she throws him out. Her family assumes her behavior is because she’s fallen in love with him, and so they conspire to have her father, Judson Craig (Charles Winninger), tell her that her voice is no good and that she will have to stop taking singing lessons. Not to be dissuaded, Penny decides to take up a different course of action. She still goes to see Harry and apologize (all the while trying to talk up her sister Joan). The problem is that Joan (who had come looking for Penny) overhears the conversation and is a little flustered as she tries to bring Penny home. They find Richard there, and he offers to take them all someplace, in the hope of helping Penny forget about her “love.” So, being sneaky, Penny asks to go to Club 33 (the nightclub where Harry plays piano). Everybody else is surprised to see Harry there, and while Harry dances with Joan (to learn why everybody is so somber and to tell her he had just accepted a new job in Australia), Penny tries to tell Richard about Kay’s feelings for him. However, Kay slaps Penny to get her to stop. Penny leaves (when nobody is looking), and everyone assumes that she is just being selfish. With no one else willing to listen to her, can Penny appeal to her distracted father, or will the wedding happen (with everyone miserable as a result)?

Three Smart Girls Grow Up is the second Deanna Durbin film that I have seen, and like One Hundred Men And A Girl (which I reviewed last week), I really enjoyed it! Of course, with that information, it’s easy to say that I haven’t seen the original Three Smart Girls. In spite of that, I was able to follow along with this one fairly well (but I can definitely tell you that I hope to see the first film at some point to see what, if anything, I missed). I enjoyed all the performances, especially Deanna Durbin again. Watching her antics as she tried to arrange things for her sisters was rather hilarious. I know I got quite a few good laughs out of it! But she was good during the more dramatic moments, too, helping you to feel for her and her sisters. And while the actress playing Kay had apparently changed between the first and second film (as supposedly actress Barbara Read was considered too grown up for this film), all three actresses feel like they could be sisters, so good are their performances! And that’s not even including Charles Winninger as their absent-minded father, who constantly forgets what’s going on (and accidentally switches coat and hat with Robert Cummings’ Harry)! The music itself may not be that memorable, but, for me, this movie is! Whether I’ll still feel the same way about it if and when I manage to see the original film, who knows, but right now, I like this film very much, and would certainly recommend it quite highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 from Kino Lorber. This one sported an HD scan, which looked pretty good. Sure, there was the occasional speck or dirt or tear, but certainly nothing that would seriously take away from the enjoyment of this wonderful movie.

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

That Certain Age (1938)Deanna DurbinNice Girl? (1941)

Show Boat (1936) – Charles Winninger – Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

Robert Cummings – One Night In The Tropics (1940)

One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937) – Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 – It Started With Eve (1941)

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Show Boat (1936)

And now we have that classic 1936 film musical Show Boat, starring Irene Dunne and Allan Jones!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Balmy Swami (1949)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 6 minutes, 49 seconds)

Popeye has to deal with magician Bluto when he hypnotizes Olive. You guessed it, we’re back to Popeye Vs. Bluto fighting over Olive. Certainly some fun gags, with Bluto making use of his magic, even when they get beyond the theater they start out in and move on to the construction site where Olive has walked to in her trance. While it really doesn’t break any new ground, I still enjoyed this one, and feel it is worth a shot!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Captain Andy Hawks (Charles Winninger) runs the show boat The Cotton Palace with his family and his theatrical troupe, which includes leading man Steve Baker (Donald Cook) and his leading lady Julie LaVerne (Helen Morgan), plus comedic dance team Frank Schultz (Sammy White) and Elly (Queenie Smith). Trouble comes, though, when it is revealed that Julie, who had one black parent, was married to Steve, a white man, which was illegal in that area. While they got out of that trouble, Steve and Julie were forced to leave the Cotton Palace just the same. Captain Hawks decided to promote his daughter, Magnolia Hawks (Irene Dunne), to the leading lady, and brought in river gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Allan Jones) to be the leading man, since he was seeking passage elsewhere anyways. Magnolia and Gaylord fall for each other, much to the dismay of her mother Parthy Ann Hawks (Helen Westley). Soon, they get married in spite of Parthy’s objections. A year later, Magnolia gives birth to their daughter, Kim, and Gaylord decides the three of them should move to Chicago. At first, all seems to go well, but then Gaylord gambles and spends all their money. Frank and Elly come to Chicago looking for a cheap place to stay since they got a job at a local nightclub, and they find the apartment they are looking at is being rented by none other than Magnolia and Gaylord! Of course, their timing couldn’t be worse, as Magnolia and Gaylord are being evicted and Gaylord decides to leave her, so she must find a job to survive. She auditions at the club where Frank and Elly are working, but it is only after the club’s current singer (which turns out to be Julie LaVerne) leaves that Magnolia is given the job. Magnolia’s parents have come to town in time for New Year’s Eve to see her, but it is her father who comes across her singing at the nightclub. When he sees her start to falter, he tries to support her, giving her the needed confidence that allows her to become a star on stage and make a comeback.

Edna Ferber published her novel Show Boat in 1926. Universal Studios soon bought the rights to the story, hoping to make a silent movie out of it. However, before they could finish, The Jazz Singer premiered, ushering in the era of sound in the movies. And of course there was also Ziegfeld’s successful production of the stage musical with music by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II. Universal tried to buy the rights to the score from the musical, but by that time, enough of the movie had been done that it was too late for them to do much more than add a few of the songs to an otherwise silent movie. However, after a few years and more financial success for the studio through their horror films, they were able to try to do it again as a more full-blown musical. And, in their favor, they were able to put together a cast that consisted of cast members from the Broadway show’s original run as well as other revivals and touring shows, plus bring back the composers for a few new songs and rewrites. The results were big, with the 1936 version becoming the most highly regarded film version of the tale.

I am at this point more or less coming off my first full viewing of this movie, after having seen the later 1951 MGM musical many times over the years (but I’ll worry about comparing the two another day). With this movie, I can’t help but admit to having enjoyed it very much! Sure, the movie does have its issues, with Irene Dunne wearing blackface for one song on the show boat, not to mention the portrayals of most of the black characters being a little too stereotypical. In spite of all that, though, I can’t help but enjoy it! The movie overall is wonderful with bits of comedy here and there (especially when Charles Winninger’s Captain Andy tries to show the audience what would have happened had the show not been interrupted by an audience member who forgot they were watching a show and threatened the show’s “villain”). And the music is wonderful, too! Hearing Paul Robeson’s version of “Ol’ Man River” was very much a treat to watch and listen to! All the performances work well for me, and I can’t deny the film’s ending certainly tugs on your heartstrings (at least it does mine)! So I would DEFINITELY recommend trying this one!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion Collection. This release features a brand-new 4K restoration of the movie, and it looks absolutely fantastic! I can’t recommend it enough! At the moment, I’d certainly put in for this being one of the best looking releases of the year (obviously, that can change, but I admit I like it just the same)! This release also features some footage from the 1929 version, with some of the sound segments as well as about twenty minutes worth of the silent movie (even if it appears to be standard definition), plus two radio shows featuring some of the cast, as well as a few other featurettes on the director and actor Paul Robeson. Overall, a release worth recommending!

Film Length: 1 hour, 54 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #4 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Stingaree (1934) – Irene Dunne – The Awful Truth (1937)

Rose-Marie (1936) – Allan Jones – One Night In The Tropics (1940)

Charles Winninger – Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… Little Nellie Kelly (1940)

“My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.” -George M. Cohan (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)

No, I’m not doing Yankee Doodle Dandy at this time, but it’s still worth thinking of George M. Cohan, since the movie I am discussing, is the 1940 musical Little Nellie Kelly, which is based on one of the shows he originally wrote (and for those eagle-eyed enough to spot it, is briefly mentioned during one montage in Yankee Doodle Dandy). The movie stars Judy Garland (as both a mother and her daughter), George Murphy, and Charles Winninger.

The movie starts in Ireland, with Nellie (Judy) becoming engaged to Jerry Kelly (George Murphy), much to the objections of her stubborn non-working father, Michael Noonan (Charles Winninger). They all immigrate to America, and study to become citizens, with Jerry planning to become a policeman. Nellie becomes pregnant, and gives birth after Jerry becomes an officer. Apparently, the birth had some complications, and Nellie dies. Between the feuding Jerry and his father-in-law, they raise Little Nellie (Judy again) together. The question remains, will Michael ever learn to work and learn to get along with Jerry?

As I mentioned, this movie was based on the 1922 Broadway show written by George M. Cohan. How much of the show made it into the movie, I don’t know, beyond about two songs. While much of the music can be fun, the real treat is hearing Judy do “Singin’ in the Rain” her way! I can see why Gene Kelly’s version remains so popular, but I actually prefer hearing Judy swinging it her way! The song was not written for this movie or the original show (and had been introduced in the movies nearly a decade earlier).

The rest of the movie is still fun, and it’s such a delight to watch Judy in her first grownup role as Nellie (and we certainly get to see her put her dramatic abilities to use in the hospital). For her alone, this movie is worth it!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 40 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #11 in Top 11 Movies Watched in 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Strike Up The Band (1940) – Judy Garland – For Me And My Gal (1942)

Broadway Melody Of 1940 (1940) – George Murphy – Tom, Dick And Harry (1941)

Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) – Charles Winninger – Something In The Wind (1947)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!