Today’s movie is the 1937 film One Hundred Men And A Girl, which stars Deanna Durbin, Leopold Stokowski and Adolphe Menjou! So, let’s get through our theatrical short, and then it’s on to the movie!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Mumbo Jumbo (1970)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 10 seconds)
The aardvark is chasing after the ant, but the ant is being helped by other animals in his forest lodge. Once again, the ant has others that are there to help him (and all he has to do say one word to get their attention). Original, this isn’t. But, with a variety of helpers (besides an elephant who seems to be the main one), it shakes things up a bit (and provides quite a few good laughs). Worth seeing every now and then!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Out-of-work trombone player John Cardwell (Adolphe Menjou) tries to get a job in the orchestra of conductor Leopold Stokowski (playing himself) after one of their concerts, but he is thrown out. As he is leaving, John finds a woman’s purse. He tries to find its owner, but is chased away. He hopes to try returning it later, but, upon returning to his apartment building, the landlady demands payment of rent. He has no choice but to pay using some of the money from the purse (or else he would be evicted), but in doing so, everyone else assumes that he did get a job with Stokowski. John’s daughter, Patricia “Patsy” (Deanna Durbin) is very enthusiastic about the idea, and, as much as he wants to tell her the truth, he can’t manage to get a word in. The next morning, she pushes him to go to rehearsals, and he leaves (in an attempt to let her dream a bit longer), but she finds out the truth when she sneaks out to listen to rehearsals. Later, she confronts her father, and, learning about the purse, tries to return it. It’s owner is Mrs. Frost (Alice Brady), a wealthy (and very kooky) society lady, who lets Patsy stay at the party she is hosting. While there, Mrs. Frost listens to Patsy talk about her father and a lot of other unemployed musicians, and offers to sponsor an orchestra for her husband’s radio program if Patsy can get them together. Patsy and her father get everybody together, but when she goes looking for Mrs. Frost, she discovers that Mrs. Frost had left for Europe. So, Patsy tries talking to her husband, John R. Frost (Eugene Pallette), but he decides against the idea. He bluntly tells them that nobody knows of their orchestra, and that they would need a big name to conduct them at least once for the orchestra to have a chance. So, Patsy goes sneaking off to convince Leopold Stokowski to conduct. She tries to talk to him about it, but he says that he is leaving for Europe right away, and can’t conduct her orchestra. However, before she can talk to him (and while she is hiding to avoid being thrown out), she unknowingly talks to a newspaper reporter, and tells him that Mr. Frost will sponsor the orchestra, with Stokowski conducting. This becomes big news, and with the positive publicity, Mr. Frost tries to sign the orchestra to a contract (but he doesn’t know that they still don’t have Mr. Stokowski). Can Patsy find a way to get Mr. Stokowski on board with the idea?
In the mid-to-late 1930s, Universal was struggling financially, as were a number of other studios. Producer Joe Pasternak and director Henry Koster had found a young singer named Deanna Durbin, whom MGM had decided not to sign to a contract (instead going with Judy Garland at the time). They cast Deanna Durbin in the 1936 film Three Smart Girls, which turned out to be a hit for Universal Studios. For their second film, they went with One Hundred Men And A Girl. At first, the Universal executives objected to both the idea of a film about the unemployed, as well as it being about a symphony orchestra (which was a little too high-culture in their minds), but the producer and director stuck with their gut, and kept their story. With a little bit of work and persuasion, they were also able to get famous conductor Leopold Stokowski in on the project. The film turned out to be a hit with both audiences and critics.
One Hundred Men And A Girl was my first experience with actress Deanna Durbin (well, unless you want to count the brief clips of her from the 1936 MGM short “Every Sunday” that were used in the That’s Entertainment film). And, I’ve got to say, I enjoyed her performance in this movie! It was fun watching her character put her youthful enthusiasm to work not only for her father, but also for many of his musician friends, as she helps try to get them work. I’m not exactly fond of classical music (unless it’s just there for background music), so for it to be used as more full-fledged musical numbers (and still have me like it), you KNOW I enjoyed the movie. The supporting cast was fun, too, including a slightly more muted Adolphe Menjou as her father, plus Alice Brady hilariously doing Alice Brady (even if her role is a little too brief) and Eugene Pallette as her husband (again), who is being pranked by (and plays his own pranks on) one of his friends. Seriously, this was a fun diversion. It may not be the absolute best movie ever made, but it was well worth seeing, and I certainly hope to come back to it with some frequency (and I look forward to seeing more of Deanna Durbin’s movies)!
This movie is available on Blu-ray as part of Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 from Kino Lorber. This is another movie that seems to have had an HD scan, but not a full restoration. There are some minor spots and dirt here and there, but nothing that takes away from the movie. It looks good enough for me, and is certainly the way I would recommend seeing it!
Film Length: 1 hour, 24 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
Deanna Durbin – Mad About Music (1938)
Morocco (1930) – Adolphe Menjou – Roxie Hart (1942)
My Man Godfrey (1936) – Eugene Pallette – The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938)
Deanna Durbin Collection: Volume 1 – Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)
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