“Star Of The Month (February 2022)” Featuring Deanna Durbin in… For The Love Of Mary (1948)

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

Something In The Wind (1947)Deanna Durbin

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“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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“Star Of The Month (February 2022)” Featuring Deanna Durbin in… Because Of Him (1946)

We’re back for another film featuring this month’s Star, Deanna Durbin! This time, it’s her 1946 film Because Of Him, also starring Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Barber Of Seville (1944)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 56 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker stops in at the Seville Barber Shop for a haircut, but the owner is out for his physical. When an Indian chief and a construction worker come in, Woody proceeds to wreak havoc on the two men. This was another fun one! I’ll admit, it quickly brings to mind the later Rabbit Of Seville Bugs Bunny cartoon, given its references to the Barber Of Seville opera, and is not quite as much fun as that Looney Tunes cartoon. The biggest problem here is the series of stereotyped gags revolving around the Native American customer. Take away that, and this one is a lot of fun, especially once Woody starts in singing “The Barber Of Seville Overture” while working on the construction worker. That sequence alone is well worth it (and, compared to some of the previous shorts, Woody Woodpecker is now sporting the look that he seems to be best known for)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Lead stage actor John Sheridan (Charles Laughton) has just finished a successful run in the play Cyrano De Bergerac, and is looking forward to enjoying his vacation doing nothing but fishing. However, his producer, Charlie Gilbert (Stanley Ridges), is trying to line up the cast for John’s next show, Strange Laughter, currently being written by Paul Taylor (Franchot Tone). The playwright and producer both have an actress in mind for the lead, but John wants somebody else (but doesn’t say who before leaving). On his way to his fishing spot, John stops at a diner, where he gives an autograph to his waitress, Kim Walker (Deanna Durbin). What he doesn’t know is that the piece of paper that she had him sign was a typed letter of introduction to Charlie Gilbert endorsing her for the role! With the encouragement of her friend and roommate Nora Bartlett (Helen Broderick), Kim takes the letter to Charlie’s office. Charlie (who was unable to get ahold of John since John had given him false information as to where he would be going fishing) takes the letter at face value and decides to give her the part. When he comes into Charlie’s office, Paul (who had met her on the street and tried to flirt with her) questions her about her stage experience. When he finds out that she has none, his attitude toward her changes, and he decides that she cannot have the part. Choosing to go with “John’s” advice, Charlie decides to ignore Paul, and throws a party at John’s apartment to announce her for the role. John arrives at his apartment while the party is going on (having ended his vacation early due to frequent rain preventing him from doing any fishing), and quickly finds out what is going on from his butler, Martin (Donald Meek). He allows Kim to keep her deception going, but tries to walk her home as soon as possible. Once they arrive, he admits that he does like her, but advises her to return to her hometown. Seeing how devastated Kim is over his words, Nora decides to call up the newspapers and tell them that Kim attempted suicide because of John’s rejection. The next day, after seeing the news, John decides to go “reconcile” with her and take her out to a nightclub (merely for the sake of appearances). Afterwards, he still believes she should abandon her hope of acting. That is, until he hears her sing, and then he decides to give her the part in the play. When she arrives back at her apartment, she runs into Paul, who had seen the paper and thought that she had tried to commit suicide because of him. They start to fall for each other, and he offers her the part. Then he sees the script that John had given her, and, although she tries to tell him the truth, he refuses to believe her. In rehearsals, he really picks on her acting, which results in John threatening to leave the show if Paul doesn’t stop. So, Paul leaves, with John now directing the show. As the show opening gets closer, Paul sues to have his name removed from the play. Kim tries to convince him to come see the final rehearsals, but he won’t budge. Will the play be a success? Will Paul come to his senses about Kim?

After It Started With Eve, Deanna Durbin had tried to branch out with different types of roles under producer Felix Jackson (who became her second husband in 1945). She tried tackling some more dramatic roles, but her fans much preferred her in the musical comedies that she was known for. So, Universal made plans for her to work with her It Started With Eve co-star and friend Charles Laughton (although the film was originally to be titled Catherine The Last). When Franchot Tone (who had co-starred with her in Nice Girl? and His Butler’s Sister) was brought in, the title became Because Of Him. When released, the film received mixed to bad reviews, which certainly didn’t help Deanna Durbin out any as her career was now winding down.

Quite simply stated, another Deanna Durbin film, another new one to me, and another one that I liked! Overall, it was quite a fun film, and kept me laughing throughout! Deanna is fun as a wannabe actress trying to find an inroads into the profession (even if she really doesn’t know much about acting), and Charles Laughton’s John Sheridan is also a hoot! I thoroughly enjoyed watching him ham things up as an actor constantly borrowing lines from his plays and making everything more dramatic (and teaching her a thing or two in the process). Plain and simple, their relationship is the heart of the film, and makes it quite entertaining!

In spite of that, though, I will readily admit, it’s one of the weaker Deanna Durbin films I’ve seen so far. The main issue I have with the film is the relationship between Deanna’s Kim and Franchot Tone’s Paul, as they spend most of the film at odds with each other. It starts out innocently (and humorously) enough, as he flirts with her when he meets her on the street (even if she doesn’t give him her phone number). Then, when he realizes that she is an amateur trying to make it into his play, he soundly rejects her for the part, and never lets up (except when he briefly believes that she attempted suicide “because of him”). The idea that they are “in love” just doesn’t work too well for me. I’m also not too crazy about the music in the film, although I will say that I enjoyed how it was staged (with Deanna singing “Good Bye” standing out quite a bit, as she tries to pester Paul throughout his hotel in an attempt to get him to come to the final dress rehearsal). With regards to Deanna’s co-stars here, I don’t think this film is as good as It Started With Eve or Nice Girl? (can’t speak to His Butler’s Sister, as I haven’t seen that one yet). It was still an entertaining one that I look forward to seeing again and again (whether on its own merits or in watching any of Deanna’s filmography)! Certainly one that I would recommend!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Because Of Him (1946)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios. The Blu-ray release appear to be an HD scan that overall looks very good, with little to no damage evident. I’ll admit, I was surprised to see this one released on Blu-ray, since it was NOT one of the nine Deanna Durbin films that Kino Lorber had licensed (with six of them getting dropped when the first three-film set bombed). I didn’t expect this release, but it looks quite good, and is probably the best way to see this very fun film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Can’t Help Singing (1944)Deanna DurbinSomething In The Wind (1947)

It Started With Eve (1941) – Charles Laughton – Abbott And Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952)

Nice Girl? (1941) – Franchot Tone – Here Come The Groom (1951)

Nice Girl? (1941) – Helen Broderick

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!

“Star Of The Month (February 2022)” Featuring Deanna Durbin in… Can’t Help Singing (1944)

I’m here now for my first film in this month-long celebration of actress Deanna Durbin with her 1944 film Can’t Help Singing, co-starring Robert Paige, Akim Tamiroff and David Bruce!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Ration Bored (1943)

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

(Length: 6 minutes, 51 seconds)

Disregarding the idea of conserving gas and tires, Woody Woodpecker goes out for a drive, only to run out of gas at the bottom of a hill. He and his car are then smacked into a junkyard, where he siphons gas from a few other vehicles, including a cop car (with the cop in it). Seeing as this short was released during World War II, it’s hard to cheer for Woody at first as he ignores the good sense to conserve gas (although it’s hard not to laugh when, as he sees a sign asking if a trip is really necessary, he replies with “Sure, it’s necessary. I’m a necessary evil!”). Once he starts dealing with the poor cop, then it’s a little more typical Woody Woodpecker (and a much better cartoon from that point on). Certainly not the best Woody cartoon I’ve seen in this bunch, but I can’t deny it was worth a few laughs!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s the time of the gold rush in California, and the U.S. cavalry has just delivered the first shipment of gold to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. After finding out the results of the recent election, cavalryman Lieutenant Robert Latham (David Bruce) has rejected the daughter of an outgoing senator in favor of the daughter of the more popular (and successful) Senator Martin Frost (Ray Collins). The senator knows that the lieutenant is a political opportunist, but his daughter Caroline (Deanna Durbin) believes the lieutenant’s intentions to be true, and wants to marry him. Trying to discourage the romance, the senator uses his political connections to get the lieutenant sent back to California as quickly as possible. That’s not enough to stop Caroline, as she tricks her father into giving her enough money to catch up to the lieutenant and runs away. Once she gets to Independence, Missouri, she finds out that her only way forward is to join up with the wagon train heading west. After she realizes that she has been conned into buying a wagon by Sad Sam (Andrew Tombes) (who doesn’t own the wagon that he “sold” her), she tries to get her money back. However, Sad Sam has lost the money in a poker game to another card sharp, Johnny Lawlor (Robert Paige). When the owner of the bar announces that the local marshal has warrants for many people, including card sharps and the daughter of a senator (whose father is offering a substantial reward for her return), they both skedaddle. Johnny realizes that Caroline is the senator’s daughter, but he can’t quite turn her in by himself due to the warrant for his arrest. She decides to offer him double what her father is offering in exchange for getting her to Fort Bridger (where her fiancé is stationed), with the money to be paid by the rich Jake Carstairs (Thomas Gomez) (whom she claims is her fiancé instead of the lieutenant). Johnny reluctantly agrees to the proposition, and they pay for the wagon that Caroline had tried to buy earlier (but this time, from the rightful owner). They find themselves joined by Prince Gregory Stroganovsky (Akim Tamiroff) and his friend Koppa (Leonid Kinskey), who had been trying to get into Caroline’s trunk after she had previously told them it contained her valuables. In order for their group to join the wagon train, they have to pretend that Gregory is Caroline’s husband (since the leader of the train doesn’t want any unattached females that he has to help keep out of trouble). Over the trek, Caroline and Johnny argue a bit, but they also find themselves falling for each other. The spell is broken, though, when the train nears Fort Bridger, and Johnny helps Caroline join up with another family heading that way. But will their love bring them back together? Or will Johnny find out the truth about who she was going to see?

Ever since the late thirties, there were plans to showcase actress Deanna Durbin in Technicolor, but for various reasons, she either ended up not doing the films being planned, or they were done in black-and-white. Finally, they ended up pulling it off with Can’t Help Singing, a film that was based on the story Girl of the Overland Trail (written by Samuel J. and Curtis B. Warshawsky). The film was at least partly shot on location in Lake Arrowhead, California as well as various places in Utah (including, but not limited to, Johnson Canyon, Duck Creek, Cascade Falls, Navajo Lake, Strawberry Point, and Cedar Breaks). Up to that point, Can’t Help Singing was one of Universal’s more expensive films to produce, but it ended up being pretty well received, and was nominated for Oscars with regard to the score and the song “More And More.”

Like all the other Deanna Durbin films that I’ve seen (and reviewed), this film was new to me, and I will readily admit that I think it’s one of her better films! In color, she (and the scenery) look quite beautiful (and it certainly makes me wish that she had done more films in Technicolor)! As usual, her singing is superb, but I will definitely admit to liking the title song quite a bit, with the song “Californ-I-Ay” coming in a close second. That latter song has led some to compare the film a little bit to the stage classic Oklahoma, but I would say that the movie feels to me like a version of the classic screwball comedy It Happened One Night set in the old west (after all, we have a daughter’s potential marriage being rejected by her father, her running away to see her boyfriend, only to fall for someone else who helps her out). I certainly wouldn’t say that Can’t Help Singing is anywhere near as good as that classic, but it’s an enjoyable film with a fun cast, beautiful (and fun!) music, and great scenery! In short, like all the other Deanna Durbin movies I’ve seen so far, I would recommend this film without a moment of hesitation!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Can’t Help Singing (1944)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Studios. By and large, this movie looks quite good on the recent Blu-ray release! It really seems to show off the Technicolor look quite well! There seems to be some (barely noticeable) dirt here and there, but, again, it doesn’t really distract from the movie itself. I certainly like how it looks, and would have no hesitation in recommending the Blu-ray as the best way to see the movie (especially since it was one of the nine films originally licensed by Kino Lorber but dropped when their first set of Deanna Durbin films failed to sell)!

Film Length: 1 hour, 31 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

It Started With Eve (1941)Deanna DurbinBecause Of Him (1946)

The Great McGinty (1940) – Akim Tamiroff

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!

Announcing the Deanna Durbin “Star Of The Month (February 2022)” Blogathon

Since I’ve done away with posting the schedule ahead of time, I can now take the time to announce my Star for the month of February 2022: actress Deanna Durbin! So if you’re interested in joining in on the blogathon, here’s where you can sign up!

Table Of Contents

My Own Feelings On Deanna Durbin

For me, Deanna Durbin is a star that I’ve developed an interest in much more recently. I had at least heard of her, mainly because of the clips of her and Judy Garland singing together (from the 1936 MGM short Every Sunday) that were included in the first That’s Entertainment film, but that was my main exposure to her for a long time. Part of the problem for me is that she spent the vast majority of her career at Universal. For most of the time that I’ve been a fan of the classic musicals, I’ve mainly been interested in stars that worked at MGM, Warner Brothers, Paramount, RKO, 20th Century Fox and Columbia. But realistically, outside of comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, I hadn’t really seen too many films from Universal (outside of when other favorite stars were loaned out to the studio for a film or two). So I never really had much of a chance to think about her until Kino Lorber Studio Classics released their Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 on Blu-ray in June 2020 (which included One Hundred Men And A Girl, Three Smart Girls Grow Up and It Started With Eve), which, as a set of musicals, appealed to me. However, it still took me until Christmas 2020 before I was able to get the set. As you can tell from my reviews of those three films, I took to them right off (particularly It Started With Eve). While I was disappointed to hear that that set (which was originally supposed to be the first of three 3-film sets from Kino) sold poorly enough that Kino decided not to do more, Universal themselves obliged me (and certainly other fans of hers, too) by releasing those dropped films themselves. So, having seen more, I still find myself enjoying these films! The biggest disappointment to me is just how much she has been forgotten by time (not helped by her leaving Hollywood in the late forties, generally keeping her life private and away from scandal, and living to an old age), so I figured it would be worthwhile to host this blogathon, and hopefully help bring her back into the spotlight! I know I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen, and I hope others will, too (and I also hope to learn about some of her films that I haven’t had the opportunity to see yet)!

Roster For The Deanna Durbin “Star Of The Month (February 2022)” Blogathon

Since this is obviously for next month’s blogathon on Deanna Durbin, then that’s all you need to worry about signing up for. As always, here are the rules that we are working with.

  1. At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, whether it be any of their films, or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
  2. These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star, that would probably not be a good month to join in.
  3. I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
  4. As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
  5. If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at astairefan7@gmail.com, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (I’m still unsure of how much space I will have to work with over time on pictures, so for now I am doing one each).

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man

  • Can’t Help Singing (1944), Because Of Him (1946), Something In The Wind (1947) and For The Love Of Mary (1948)

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… That Certain Age (1938)

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

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mad About Music (1938)Deanna DurbinThree Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)

Melvyn Douglas – Ninotchka (1939)

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Mad About Music (1938)

I hinted at the idea that I would be well-represented in this month’s Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon, and that continues to be true! Today, we’re looking at the 1938 Deanna Durbin musical Mad About Music, also starring Herbert Marshall, Gail Patrick and Arthur Treacher!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Tough Winter (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 35 seconds)

On a cold winter’s day, the gang spend some time inside with handyman Stepin Fetchit before getting together for a taffy pull. This one is one of the weaker shorts in this bunch, purely because of how poorly Stepin Fetchit and his very stereotyped comedy have aged (i.e., not well). There is some fun to be had with the taffy pull, as it starts out with the old “radio recipe switch”-type of gag (you know, where it starts off with one recipe and switches to another while nobody is listening). Then, there is all the mess the gang creates as they try to pull the taffy through the house (and boy, is it sticky). I would say that there is some enjoyment to be had here, but it mostly requires also being able to stomach the altogether too prominent Stepin Fetchit and his schtick.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Gwen Taylor (Gail Patrick) is a big Hollywood actress, with an equally big secret: she has a fourteen-year-old daughter! However, much to Gwen’s dismay, her manager, Dusty Turner (William Frawley), believes it’s better that the public doesn’t know about her daughter, as Gwen is considered a glamour girl. So, her daughter, Gloria Harkinson (Deanna Durbin), is going to a boarding school in Switzerland run by the Fusenot sisters, Annette (Elisabeth Risdon) and Louise (Nana Bryant). Gloria can’t talk about her mother, and since her father, a Navy flier, died when she was a baby, she decides to make up stories about a world-traveling, big-game hunter father. To help maintain these stories, she writes herself letters to send through the mail using different stamps from around the world collected by her friend, Pierre (Christian Rub), and has her mother send her different gifts, like an elephant tusk (although her mother has no idea why Gloria wants any of these things). However, another one of the girls at the school, Felice (Helen Parrish), doesn’t believe Gloria, and is bound and determined to prove that Gloria is making everything up. At a church service, Gloria meets a young boy named Tommy (Jackie Moran) from a nearby military boarding school who has a crush on her. When she finds out that he is also an American, she makes plans to meet him the next day. However, she gets into trouble and is punished. Being that the Fusenot sisters don’t like the girls mixing with the boys, Gloria’s only way to get out of there is to pretend to be meeting her father at the train station. However, all the other girls (including Felice) follow her, so she picks out the newly arrived composer Richard Todd (Herbert Marshall), telling him lies while making it appear to the other girls like he is supposed to be her father. Later, the Fusenot sisters come to Richard (via his butler/secretary Tripps, played by Arthur Treacher) to invite him to lunch. Upon learning why, he decides to come and tell the truth, but Gloria’s pleading convinces him to go along with her stories and pretend to be her father. For a few days, Richard enjoys acting as Gloria’s father, but then he is called to Paris on business. At first, Gloria plans to say goodbye, with plans to later “kill off” her father, but, upon seeing a newspaper story saying that her mother is in Paris, she decides to sneak on the train with Richard to go see her. But, with her mother being accompanied by her manager, Dusty Turner (who is trying to help Gwen maintain appearances as a glamour girl), will Gloria be able to see her mother? Or, for that matter, will she be able to maintain all the stories that she’s been telling about her father?

Following on from what I said about Deanna Durbin’s 1941 film Nice Girl?, I enjoyed Mad About Music as much for the music as I did for the rest of the film. This film had her singing four songs: three new ones written for this movie (“A Serenade To The Stars,” “I Love To Whistle” and “Chapel Bells”) with music by Jimmy McHugh and lyrics by Harold Adamson, plus the classic hymn “Ave Maria.” I will admit, her version of “Ave Maria” is a little different than what I’m used to whenever I have heard the song. I’m not saying it’s bad, it’s just slightly jarring compared to how I’ve heard others do it. I do kind of like it, though and it’s one I hope will grow on me more with subsequent viewings. Of the three new songs, though, I quickly grew fond of “I Love To Whistle.” Of course, I should warn you that, if you don’t like that song, this movie will be harder to enjoy, as it’s sung at least three times in the movie (with Cappy Barra’s Harmonica Ensemble joining in for some fun on the second time). Again, I like it (and I thought the harmonica band was fun to watch), so, for me, it’s a plus to hear it so much!

Of course, the music is hardly the only reason I like this movie, as I certainly think the comedy adds something to it as well! Most of the comedy stems from the lies that Deanna’s Gloria tells about her father, and some of the lengths she has to go to to maintain them. The funniest moments are when Herbert Marshall’s Richard Todd decides to go along with them, particularly when he’s telling stories at the lunch, even managing to go along with the curve balls that Helen Parrish’s Felice is determined to throw to disprove everything. Overall, it’s a very heartwarming tale as we see Gloria and Richard becoming a father and daughter. The only complaint I have is how quick Richard and Gail Patrick’s Gwen Taylor become a couple at the end, without anything happening beforehand to indicate that they would like each other, but it’s a very minor thing. Overall, a very entertaining movie that I know I look forward to revisiting again and again in the future, and one I have no problem whatsoever in recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios. The transfer on this one is pretty good. A lot of the dust and dirt has been cleaned up. There are some scratches and dirt here and there, but they are relatively easy to miss (and forget). Like the previously reviewed Nice Girl?, this film was one of nine licensed by Kino Lorber Studio Classics (and one of the six that were dropped when the first three-film set bombed), so I’m glad to see that it did make it out to Blu-ray just the same, in a release I would certainly recommend!

Film Length: 1 hour, 36 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937)Deanna DurbinThat Certain Age (1938)

The Good Fairy (1935) – Herbert Marshall

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Nice Girl? (1941)

For today’s movie review, we’ve got a movie doing double-duty again, both as a recent Blu-ray release as well as starting off my Musicals: With A Song And A Dance In My Heart blogathon! That film, of course, is the 1941 musical Nice Girl? starring Deanna Durbin!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bear Shooters (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 29 seconds)

The gang all go camping to hunt bears, but they unknowingly come across a pair of bootleggers who try to scare them off. While it’s not quite as good as some of the previous few Little Rascals shorts, this one was still quite entertaining. Of course, this one provides the laughs through two gags: Chubby (Norman Chaney) putting limburger cheese on the sick Wheezer (Bobby Hutchins) instead of the grease he was supposed to, and one of the bootleggers dressed up as a gorilla. The gang are also joined by Leon Janney as “Spud” (apparently a one-time appearance), who is a rather forgettable character. Still, like the others that I’ve seen so far, it was fun, and worth seeing!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In the town of Stillwater, Connecticut lives high school principal Oliver Dana (Robert Benchley) and his three daughters. His oldest, Sylvia (Anne Gwynne), is a wannabe actress. His youngest, Nancy (Ann Gillis), likes to flirt with some of the boys (to the point of them physically fighting over her). His middle daughter, Jane (Deanna Durbin), helps him out with some of his dietary experiments. Jane resents her “nice girl” image, especially since her boyfriend, Don Webb (Robert Stack), seems to pay more attention to his car than to her. Due to the dietary experiments that he is working on, Oliver is being considered for a fellowship by the Van de Meer Foundation. They send their field man, Richard Calvert (Franchot Tone), to see for sure whether he merits it. As Richard turns out to be younger (and better-looking) than they had imagined, all three girls start vying for his attentions. Jane in particular attempts to impress him, although her attempts don’t quite work out. When Richard has to go back to New York ahead of a proposed trip to Australia, Jane volunteers to drive him. Since Don is working on her car, he offers to let her drive his car. When Don tells her that he would trust her no matter what she does, she is infuriated and decides to try to do something about her “nice girl” image. Using an idea she had gotten from something he had shown her before, she delays the car (without Richard knowing), which causes him to miss his train. In the process, she offers to drive him all the way back. On the way, they encounter a rainstorm (and, of course, the car malfunctions), resulting in them getting drenched. At Richard’s home, they both change clothes, and she attempts to seduce him. However, when Jane overhears him on the phone with his mother (in which he says that she is just “one of the Dana girls”), she feels foolish and leaves immediately for home. She arrives in town in the early morning, where she runs out of gas and accidentally wakes everybody in town up when the car’s horn gets stuck. Of course, that sets everyone’s tongues to wagging, and she locks herself in her room. She manages to tell her father the truth of what happened later, to which he is relieved. However, at the town’s charity bazaar, the gossip continues to flow, with everyone coming to the conclusion that she and Richard are engaged. Don hears the gossip, but doesn’t believe a word of it, and tells Jane so when she arrives. Furious at the fact that he is taking her for granted, she proceeds to tell everyone that the news of her “engagement” is true. Richard has also just arrived in town to tell Oliver that he is getting the fellowship, but, upon learning of the gossip, decides to go along with it. With some now pushing for an immediate ceremony, though, can they get out of this jam (especially since Jane realizes that she loves Don)?

Nice Girl? was based on a play called Nice Girl by Phyllis Duganne. The slight change in title was a reflection of actress Deanna Durbin being cast in the film. The young Deanna, who had up to this point been playing young girls, turned nineteen during the production of this film. As such, she was now making the transition into adult roles, and the film’s producers decided to add the question mark to the title to make it more ambiguous about whether she was indeed a “nice girl” (as her screen image had essentially been). When all was said and done, the movie essentially had three different endings: one where she sang the song “Thank You America” (which was the original one shown to U.S. audiences), one with her instead doing the song “There’ll Always Be an England,” which was mainly intended for their audience in the U.K., and a third version with her singing “Thank You America” in Spanish (for the Latin American countries).

As I’ve previously indicated, I had very little experience with Deanna Durbin prior to this year (outside of her being mentioned briefly in That’s Entertainment). Earlier this year, I experienced three of her films for the first time (and enjoyed all three quite a bit). Now, two of them, I mainly enjoyed for the stories and the performances, with the music not really sticking with me that much (although she certainly had a wonderful singing voice to handle it). With It Started With Eve, however, I found myself not only enjoying the story and her performance, but also at least the song “When I Sing.” Nice Girl? follows the trend of that film, not only with a good story and good performances, but also some very enjoyable music! I certainly know I enjoyed her opening song “Perhaps” quite well. But, the film’s best musical moment for me, was when she sang “Swanee River.” I’ve been hearing that song (and numerous versions of it) since I was a child, with my favorite being Bing Crosby’s version from the film Mississippi. However, with her voice, the chorus, and the overall orchestration, I found myself REALLY enjoying this version, and I would say it’s one of my favorite moments from her films so far!

Of course, I’ve enjoyed the comedy from her films as well, and this one still had it in spades! Admittedly, the best moments are when Franchot Tone’s Richard Calvert arrives at the Dana home, and all the girls start making themselves up for him (and never let him finish his story). Then, there’s later that evening, where they’re doing their exercises before going to bed (and he’s in the next room doing the same), and they talk about him (and how old they think he is), when he knocks on the door to tell them his age (and they then scurry off to bed). Honestly, both of those moments left me in stitches! Overall, this was a wonderful film, well-supported by a great cast, and it’s one I have zero hesitation in recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Universal Studios. The transfer on this release is pretty good. Most of the dust and dirt has been cleaned up. There is an occasional speck or scratch, but nothing serious enough to ruin the enjoyment of this film. Sadly, of the three endings I mentioned, this release only contains the U.S. one (with her singing “Thank You America” to the troops), but, to be fair, this was one of nine titles originally licensed out to Kino Lorber Studio Classics (and one of the six that they dropped when the first set of three sold so poorly), so I’m grateful to be getting this one at all! It is a wonderful release, and highly recommended!

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #5 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)Deanna DurbinIt Started With Eve (1941)

Mutiny On The Bounty (1935) – Franchot Tone – Because Of Him (1946)

The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939) – Walter Brennan – Sergeant York (1941)

Robert Stack – To Be Or Not To Be (1942)

Dancing Lady (1933) – Robert Benchley – You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)

Swing Time (1936) – Helen Broderick – Because Of Him (1946)

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!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… It Started With Eve (1941)

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 DurbinCan’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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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)

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!