‘Classichollywood, take it or leave it…and she did’

Who better to Post about in February, the month of Valentines, but America’s Sweetheart from the mid-1930’s to the late 1940’s;  Deanna Durbin

Who knew that Universal Studio actually had a musical singing star?  Previously when I thought of Universal Studio I associated them with either Monsters, or Abbott and Costello. Obviously I was wrong. Thanks to Rochellelynn, these last few weeks I have been catching up with a little Universal Studio/Deanna Durbin history and now know who their real main breadwinner was during this time in classichollywood. Shirley Temple saved Twentieth Century Fox, Deanna Durbin saved Universal.

MGM’s loss was definitely Universal’s gain since movies Deanna starred in (top billing) saved the studio from bankruptcy.  I’m not going to go into a lot of detail since I seem to be the last person on earth that had never seen even a snippet of one of Deanna’s Universal Studio’s movies. And after watching over three fourths of the movies she starred in, (in various mediums) over these past few weeks I have picked out a couple of favorite’s but am only going to comment about my numéro uno favorite; ‘It Started with Eve’

After reading the blurb on the back of the ‘Sweethearts DVD Collection’ I watched Eve first because it sounded like a Sandra Dee movie I had seen in the 60’s with Robert Goulet and Andy Williams ‘I’d Rather Be Rich’.  Silly me; there is no comparison, Eve was definitely the original.

There is chemistry all over the place in this movie between Robert Cummings and Deanna especially in the scenes when he is chasing her around the huge New York City mansion living room and she in her Vera West gown does the old ‘step up on the seat of the chair with one foot and with your other foot press on the seat back to tip the chair over trick’. Does that mean she did that stunt before Gene Kelly, Donald O’Conner and Debbie Reynolds did it during the ‘Good Morning’ dance routine in ‘Singing in the Rain’?

Charles Laughton was excellent, it’s said he had three favorite actresses that he appeared in movies with in Hollywood and that he considered them as surrogate daughters: Maureen O’Hara, Margaret O’Brien and Deanna Durbin.

Their scenes together in Eve are just so much fun. I liked the way the writers introduced her first song. No coyness, no modesty, no don’t you want to talk me into singing for you, just a ‘want to hear me sing, do you have a piano? Then if I’m not singing loud enough for you to hear me I can take off my jacket, roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath and really belt out some highbrow notes for you!  It’s a piece of fluff, feel good entertaining movie but what is wrong with that?

Like Tyrone Power’s favorite non-pretty boy movie ‘Nightmare Alley’.  Deanna also appeared in a definitely not fluff, Somerset Maugham movie titled ‘Christmas Holiday’ reported to be her favorite role.  She and Gene Kelly do some excellent acting in this movie, both roles are a-typical from what the norm was for them in this time period but they both have exceptional, believable performances.  And just can’t stop humming that beautiful haunting song ‘Always’ sung by Deanna to Gene written by Irving Berlin in 1925 but resurrected as a favorite song during the war years.  Thanks Rochellelynn for bringing to my attention that Deanna Durbin is definitely ‘One Smart Girl’!


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jan says:

    Love to read about Deanna Durbin.
    Remember i saw the “Christmas Holiday” movie in the forties.
    Deanna had many admirers all over the world.
    In my old age i still like to hear her beautiful voice and seeing her movies over and over again.

    1. annstj says:

      Thank you for the comment Jan. I’m loving learning about Deanna, her movies, her leading men and her beautiful voice. How lucky you were to see Christmas Holiday in the theatre. I am wondering if I can’t talk my friends at the New Embassy Theatre in Cumberland, MD into showing one of her movies. I would travel all the way to MD from OH just to see one of her movies on the big screen.

      1. Jan says:

        I’am Dutch Annstj, my english is not so good and also miss the skil to analyse a movie as you do, but i like to share my feelings as a teenager falling for his idol about somewhat older than myself.
        During WWII Deanna’s movies were for me a source of derivation from the hard times being occupied by the Germans.
        It is said that my country-woman Anne Frank had a picture of Deanna on the wall of her hiding-place….She did not survive.
        Beautiful Deanna acted and sung so well in the movie “His butler’s sister”that, when she at last rushed in the arms of her lover (Franchot Tone), singing the aria Nessum Dorma, i was ashamed of myself leaving the cinema with wet eyes of emotion.
        It is good to see, even more than 60years after Deanna’s retirement, that there are still a lot of people who enjoy what she has given us.
        All the best with your nice “site”.

      2. annstj says:

        It’s been many years since I read the diary of your Anne Frank or watched the 1959 Millie Perkins movie version and had forgotten about the picture of her favorite movie star on her wall. His Butler’s Sister is also a favorite of mine, and you are right that was a very emotional beautiful scene where Deanna sings the aria Nessun Dorma then rushes into the arms of Franchot Tone so thank you for sharing with us your teenage experience during that very traumatic time in your countries history. And thank you again for visiting and commenting on our site.

  2. I’m always looking for new movie suggestions for the cinema program here at New Embassy (www.newembassy.org)!

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