- SKU: 6731511
- Release Date: 08/03/2004
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A man trying to make his dying father happy makes his love life very complicated indeed in this musical comedy starring Deanna Durbin. Jonathan Reynolds Jr. (Robert Cummings) is the playboy son of multi-millionaire business magnate Jonathan Reynolds, Sr. (Charles Laughton). Junior has told his father that he's finally met the woman he's going to marry while on a recent trip to Mexico, and father, who has been given a very short time to live by his doctors, wants to meet her right away. However, the woman in question is not available, so Junior persuades Anne Terry (Durbin), a hat-check girl and aspiring singer, to pose as his fiancée for the sake of his father's peace of mind. father takes quite a liking to Anne, which is fine and good until he defies all the expectations of his doctors and makes a complete recovery. Now father is spending a great deal of time with the woman he thinks is going to be his future daughter-in-law, and Junior isn't sure how to tell him that Anne isn't really the woman he wants to marry. As usual, Durbin sings several songs, including "Clavelitos" by Valverde and "Going Home," adapted from Symphony for the New World by Dvorak. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Can't Help Singing
Deanna Durbin's first Technicolor feature is a lavish musical western, replete with a Jerome Kern-E. Y. Harburg score. Set in the mid-19th century, the story finds Caroline (Durbin), daughter of a wealthy senator, bound and determined to wed dashing cavalry officer Lawlor (Robert Paige). When the officer is transferred to California, Caroline chases after him, encountering prospectors, bandits and Indians all along the way. That's about all that happens, save for a few awkward slapstick moments wherein the pleasantly plump Ms. Durbin falls into various bodies of water. Lensed on location in Utah, Can't Help Singing is entertaining enough, but wasn't sufficient to halt the downward slide of Deanna Durbin's popularity. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Best remembered as the film in which 17-year-old Deanna Durbin receives her first screen kiss, First Love is a modernized variation of the Cinderella legend (there's even "six white mice" in the form of a sextet of motorcycle policemen!). The film casts Durbin as Constance Harding, the poor relation of wealthy tycoon James Clinton (Eugene Pallette). When she comes to live with the Clinton family, she runs headfirst into her eccentric, social-climbing aunt Grace (Leatrice Joy) and her nasty, nightclub-hopping cousin Barbara (Helen Parrish); James himself rather likes the girl, but most his attention is directed towards dealing with his monumentally lazy son Walter (Lewis Howard in a comic turn). Left behind on the night of a fancy society ball, Constance is championed by the household servants, who provide her with a gorgeous gown and transportation to the event. She meets her Prince Charming in the form of likeable socialite Ted Drake (Robert Stack in his film debut)- but, just after the stroke of midnight, leaves her slipper behind. Later that night, the hateful Barbara convinces Constance that Ted was only toying with her emotions. Sorrowfully, Constance decides to return to school and bury herself in her studies, only to be dissuaded by her head teacher (Kathleen Howard), who made the same mistake herself many years before. Naturally there's a happy ending, with time to spare for Durbin to sing five numbers, including the Puccini-inspired aria "One Fine Day". ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Three Smart Girls
Deanna Durbin, the teenaged soprano who literally saved Universal Pictures from bankruptcy, made her feature-film debut in Three Smart Girls. Durbin, Nan Grey and Barbara Read play three wealthy young sisters, living with their divorced mother (Nella Walker) in Europe. The girls learn that their father (Charles Winninger) has made plans to remarry. Correctly sensing that the bride-to-be (Binnie Barnes) is a fortune hunter, the sisters head to Manhattan to save Daddy from himself. Durbin is the primary architect in reuniting her parents, but not before satisfying her fans with several arias. Three Smart Girls not only spawned a sequel (Three Smart Girls Grow Up), but even a 2-reel Three Stooges parody titled Three Dumb Clucks! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
One Hundred Men and a Girl
The girl is teenaged singing sensation Deanna Durbin; the one hundred men are out-of-work musicians. Still in her "little miss fix-it" stage, Durbin connives to help the musicians crack the big time. The person Durbin is most concerned with is her father (Adolphe Menjou) the 100th and most underemployed of the bunch. The men organize their own orchestra; all they need is a prestigious leader. Enter legendary conductor Leopold Stokowski, who after several refusals to listen to Durbin's entreaties is captivated when he hears the sounds of Liszt's 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody, as played by 100 shabby instrumentalists camped out on the stairway of his house. This film literally saved Universal Studios from receivership in 1937, assuring Ms. Durbin a movie career until she was too rich to care. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Lady on a Train
Deanna Durbin offered her fans a change of pace in this mystery story seasoned with elements of comedy and music. Nikki Collins (Durbin) is a small-town girl visiting New York City to meet with Mr. Haskell (Edward Everett Horton), her family's attorney. As her train pulls into the station, she looks out her window into a nearby office building. She's shocked by what she sees -- a man is being strangled to death, and while she can't see the face of the killer, she gets a good look at the victim. Terrified, Nikki immediately goes to the police, but they think that her story is simply the product of an overactive imagination and send her on her way. Nikki, however, is certain that she witnessed a murder, and she approaches mystery writer Wayne Morgan (David Bruce) to help her piece together the facts of what happened. Thanks to a newsreel, Nikki is able to recognize the victim as Mr. Waring, a wealthy man who made his fortune in shipping; she attempts to contact Waring's family, but they're convinced that Nikki is a nightclub singer with whom the tycoon was having an affair. Hoping to contact the chanteuse in question, Nikki visits the club where she works, only to discover that she's also been murdered. Nikki soon finds herself being trailed by both Jonathan (Ralph Bellamy) and Arnold (Dan Duryea), two members of Waring's family whom she believes may have been involved in the crime, and could be trying to silence her once and for all. Like most of Durbin's vehicles, Lady on a Train's plot stops every now and then to give her the opportunity to sing a song; Western fans may want to keep an eye peeled for future cowboy star Lash LaRue, who has a small role as a waiter. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi