When Mary Collins strides out utterly confident on stage to sing, I had a momentary flashback to Ethel Merman in 1959 striding down the theater aisle and calling, "Sing out, Louise, sing out!" Mary Collins, I mean Deanna Durbin at 26, was a supremely confident actress and singer, and there are a few times when you wouldn't want to get in her way. Balancing that are things Merman didn't have...a warm personality, a lovely face, a smile that could win you over and a voice that wouldn't break your eardrums. Merman was an amazing, one-of-a-kind performer; so was Deanna Durbin. What they share is a perfect confidence in their talent.
With Something in the Wind, audiences were watching a romantic comedy with songs featuring a mature young woman they'd been in love with since she was 15. Alone among the child stars of the Thirties, Deanna Durbin grew up on screen while maintaining her stardom, her poise and her box office clout. Here, as Mary Collins, she's a disc jockey who discovers that her aunt who raised her, also named Mary Collins, had been receiving regular checks from a wealthy industrialist. They had once been in love but the marriage plans had been broken up by his family. The whole thing was platonic, but when the old man died his will stated that the financial arrangements must continue. But now the young scion of the family, Donald Read (John Dall), wants to stop the arrangement and pay Mary Collins off. He wants no scandal. He thinks our Mary has been his grandfather's friend. He doesn't realize our Mary has an aunt with the same name. Mary doesn't know what he's talking about but is furious at the implication. Donald is a prig and engaged to a well-bred socialite. His grandmother is a woman who believes breeding is all. His younger brother, Charlie (Donald O'Connor), is much more unconventional. After our Mary is kidnapped and at first kept at the Read family mansion until she agrees to the arrangement, we are in for over an hour of romantic mix-ups, complicated machinations, a perfect lawyer (blind and deaf), six songs by Durbin, three songs and comedy routines by O'Connor, and then true love finding a way. What does the movie add up to? For firm Deanna Durbin fans, a delight. For those who simply like her a lot, a mixed bag.
On the plus side are Durbin and O'Connor. One almost wishes they'd been the happy couple at the end. Durbin sings everything from a bit of Verdi to a down-and-dirty "You want to keep your baby lookin' right, doncha, Daddy?" Her personality shines through. She's funny and sincere. O'Connor is O'Connor and he's great. He has one number, "I Love a Mystery," which is almost a rehearsal for his "Make 'Em Laugh" routine in Singin' in the Rain. The songs, by Johnny Green and Leo Robin, are just fine, with two better than just fine numbers, "The Turntable Song" and "Something in the Wind." And one unexpected and stylishly handled bit features a cameo by Jan Peerce, the great American tenor who had a long career at the Met, as a singing jailer. Durbin is in the jail. It's not long before before they're sharing a duet from Il Trovatore and arguing about who stepped on whose obbligato.
But the movie begins to get tedious when the Mary Collins mix-up is finally discovered, love between Mary and Donald emerges and serious complications concerning proper family breeding sets in. Most problematic is John Dall as Donald Read, the stuffy hero who learns to love. Dall always seemed to me to be not only a limited actor but a man who, just as Lawrence Harvey always seemed genuinely unlikeable, always seemed genuinely artificial. He was unnerving as the artificially sincere killer-for-thrills in Rope a year later, but here he creates a big hole in the movie. He simply isn't interesting enough or strong enough to compete in the comedy or romance departments with Durbin.
As for Durbin, the next year, 1948, she made her last two movies. Then she got married, packed her bags, moved to France and never looked back.
on 28 September 2011
I'm old enough to recognise beauty, talent, charisma and innocence when I see it but, not old enough to have been around when this motion picture was first released. Had I been, then I would gladly have paid my sixpence (2.5 pence to the younger audience)to watch this delightful and enjoyable film of song and talent. It was only through distant memories passed down to me by my parents that I, came to know about and, appreciate the beautiful and multi-talented Deanna Durbin or, Edna Mae Durbin to be precise.
When I purchased this DVD, my choice was based solely on Deanna Durbin's beautiful operatic voice and therefore, I did not know what to expect of her acting ability or of the storyline in the film - I wasn't to be disappointed! The story has all the elements required to make this film entertaining - love, adversity, injustice, triumph, dancing, singing and a romantic twist at the end of the tale.
The acting skills of Deanna Durbin, combined with the purity of her voice (both when speaking and singing) make for an enthralling film. She is ably assisted with the fine acting skills of Donald O'Connor, John Dall, Charles Winninger and many more of the accomplished actors, singers and dancers that encapsulate this 1947 film. A special mention should also be given to a very young Danny Kaye, who expresses a tom-foolery in this film that was later to be his trade mark and establish him as one of the great all time giants of acting.
Whilst closely watching Deanna Durbin in this film and noticing her mannerisms and that innocent "girl next door look" that she portrays in this film, I was reminded very much of Doris Mary Ann Kapplehoff (Doris Day) whom in her own films exhibits similar mannerisms and acting traits and I,ve been left wondering whether or not her (Doris Day's) method of acting was an emulation of Deanna Durbin's?
The film sets and costumes are very lavish in their production and express a sense of dignity and respect that is all too often missing in modern times. The Black & White film medium also has the effect of focusing your attention on the detail of the sets, whilst also exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the actors and actresses in a more demanding way than colour. B&W also lends itself well for setting the different moods of the story, especially the more dramatic scenes and also gives a purity and freshness to the skin tones of those appearing in such films.
This is just one of 26 films that Deanna Durbin appeared in, besides the many songs she recorded in her own right as a singer of the finest operatic quality. If you've never heard or seen Deanna Durbin, then her magic and the purity of her voice await you.
I strongly recommend this film and Deanna Durbin's music to all those who love beauty, charisma and talent - you won't be disappointed!
on 29 September 2013
One of his last three films. Deanna has not lost its charm and grace. A simple plot but delightfully. Beautiful melodies, performed excellently. Universal must have felt very proud to have this superstar among their roster. The copy looks very good, excellent restoration work. This film can be seen over and over again. And always be delighted.
Una de sus tres últimas películas. Deanna no ha perdido su encanto ni su gracia. Una trama sencilla pero encantadora. Bellas melodías, excelentemente bien interpretadas. Universal debe haberse sentido muy orgullosa de tener esta megaestrella entre su plantel. La copia se ve muy bien, excelente trabajo de restauración. Esta película se puede ver una y otra vez. Y siempre quedará encantado.