This blog was started in 2010 as a tribute to Deanna and her films. On this site you will find reviews, photos, articles, video clips, old time radio programs, news and more.


Deanna Durbin had lead roles in 21 films from 1936-1948


Before they were stars, they appeared in one short subject together.


Deanna is often credited with helping to save Universal from bankrupcy.


She was given an Honorary Academy Award in 1938.

March 28, 2010

"Spring Parade" (1940)

Deanna looking cute in a babuska (head scarf)
In this cute film set in Austria, Deanna plays a farm girl named Ilonka. One day she goes to a carnival and meets a fortune teller who tells her (among other things) that she will find her husband in Vienna; the next day she travels there and is determined to fulfill the prophecies.

Deanna's character is somewhat carefree, and it's not explained whether or not she had any work or family obligatons back in her unprounouncable village home.

Once in Vienna, she lands a job as an assistant in a local bakery run by the always entertaining S.Z. Sakall. Other bakery employees include Anne Gwynne (Jenny) and the baker's young nephews, played by Butch and Buddy (Kenneth Brown and Billy Lenhart), child stars at the time that never became famous as a team. They were prominently featured on posters for the movie (see the poster below). I wonder what happened to them; I couldn't find much to read about them on the internet.

The spring parade of the title refers to a parade of soilders that passes by the bakery every day. One of the soilders (Robert Cummings) flirts with Jenny, but she has her eye on another man (a Count in fact, Count Zorndorf, played by Allyn Joslyn). Deanna becomes smitten with the soilder, and inspires him to compose songs, including "Waltzing in the Clouds", which Deanna sings.

She also sings two other songs: "When April Sings" and "It's Foolish But It's Fun", which is a great song to describe this movie. There are some funny shennegans and a few cases of mistaken identity, including a scene where the baker gets arrested and Deanna has to clear up matters with the Emperor.

Cameo appearances by Samuel S. Hinds, Franklin Pangborn and Mischa Auer, who buys Deanna's goat at the carnival.

Nominated for 4 Academy Awards:

Best Cinematography
Best Sound
Best Score (Charles Previn)
Best Song ("Waltzing in the Clouds")

For more photos from Spring Parade, check out this link which will take you to the gallery on the Deanna Durbin Devotees site.

Read Laura's review here. 

March 22, 2010

Cartoon Short from 1940-"Malibu Beach Party" with a caricature of Deanna

Note: this page has received much attention lately. Have you found what you are looking for? I hope my comments are working; there have been no comments on the post but many views. 

(A Warner Bros. cartoon)

(Note: Deanna's caricature appears after 5 minutes, 14 seconds)

Lampooned this time: radio comedian Jack Benny and a few regular players from his program, including his real-life spouse Mary Livingstone, the show's bandleader (and jokester) Phil Harris (called "Pill Harris"), and Jack's "porter" Rochester (Eddie Anderson) (called "Winchester"). Jack is throwing a beach party in Malibu, and among those to show up include fellow radio pals Bob Hope and Baby Snooks. Some movie stars stop by too, including Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford, and James Cagney. Oh and you can't have a cartoon loaded with celebrity caricatures without Clark Gable and Greta Garbo. For sure! (Directed by Friz Freleng)

l-r: Carole Lombard, Don Ameche, Fred MacMurray, Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, Charles Boyer, Adolph Menjou, Claudette Colbert

Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone, stars of the popular and long-running radio comedy The Jack Benny Show

Regular Jack Benny Show players Phil Harris (pictured with his wife Alice Faye) and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, Deanna Durbin, and Mickey Rooney.

Rik Tod, in his blog post on this cartoon, observed how all of the heads of the celebrities are slightly too large for thier bodies, giving them a bobble-head feel. I've identified no less than 30 stars, and they are listed below. See how many you can recognize. Out of all the celebrities, only Mickey Rooney and Deanna Durbin are still living.

Sorry, I couldn't find a version that would allow me to embed it in this page, so you'll have to go to the You Tube site to watch the clip.

Watch "Malibu Beach Party" (1940) (opens in a new tab)

Caricatures, in order of appearance:

Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone
Bob Hope
Bette Davis (as Queen Elizabeth from Warner Brothers' 1939 "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex")
Andy Devine (yelling "Hiya Buck" - a reference to the movie "Buck Benny Rides Again from 1940 which starred Benny and Devine)
Spencer Tracy (in his Henry Stanley garb from the 1939 movie "Stanley and Livingstone")
Kay Kyser
Robert Donat (with a reference to the 1939 movie "Goodbye Mr Chips")
Carole Lombard/Don Ameche/Fred MacMurray/Joan Crawford/Robert Taylor
George Raft
Clark Gable

Greta Garbo (surfing!)
Caesar Romero and John Barrymore
Ned Sparks and Fanny Brice as Baby Snooks
Charles Boyer/Adolph Menjou/Claudette Colbert/James Cagney/Alice Faye
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson

Phil Harris
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers

Deanna Durbin, singing soprano
Mickey Rooney
Cary Grant

This cartoon is available on DVD; it's one of the extras to the movie "Dance Girl Dance" (1940), which is part of the Lucille Ball Film Collection.

March 14, 2010

The Amazing Deanna Durbin: new blog!

Here it is: a brand new Deanna Durbin blog, featuring film reviews, news, links, articles, photos, videos, scans, and more. All of the older reviews from Motion Picture Gems have been carried over to this site. More reviews to come. I hope you all enjoy this blog. - Tom

Deanna Durbin in "I'll Be Yours" (1947)

A loose remake of The Good Fairy (the 1935 film - starring Margaret Sullivan and Frank Morgan - was written by Preston Sturges, who is credited in this film), Deanna plays a sweet girl from a small town who moves to the big city, where she lands a job as an usherette in a big movie palace. Among her new city friends are hopeless romantic lawyer (Tom Drake) and restaurant guru William Bendix. In a funny scene, socially-awkward Deanna crashes a big party and poses as a Mexican gal, stumbling around, chomping on celery and botching Spanish. By accident, she manages to sing a beautiful rendition of "Grenada", and naturally, impresses everyone, including the organizer of the party, wealthy corporate exec. Adolphe Menjou, who offers her a job in a musical show. But before she achieves success (or romance), the main characters all get mixed up in several crazy screwball situations. In a cameo, Franklin Pangborn plays a barber who reluctantly shaves off Tom Drake's beard.

Read an analysis of the film by Java.

A perfect rom-com for Valentine's Day, or any day.

Deanna Durbin in "Nice Girl?" (1941)

Deanna and Robert Stack are together again in a delightful little rom-com from '41 (released several months before the US entered into WW2). Not to be confused with "Three Smart Girls", "Nice Girl?" also features a trio of sisters (Deanna, Anne Gwynne, and Ann Gillis), daughters of high school principal (Robert Benchley), who is obsessed with nutrition so much that he's working on a book. One day a handsome chap (Franchot Tone) comes to the house to do business with the father, and all the girls are smitten by him, including the flirty youngest sister Nancy, played by scene stealing Ann Gillis. Gillis is the only actress in the prinipal cast other than Deanna still living. Her credits include "Little Orphan Annie" (1938) as Annie, "Bambi" (1943) as the voice of Adult Faline, and "2001" (1968) as Poole's mother.

In a small role is Walter Brennan as a nosey mailman.

Stack plays Deanna's boyfriend, and Deanna sings a handful of tunes in this that are delightful to listen to as always. (pun intended)

The film ends with Deanna singing "Thank You America". Another ending for British audiences has Deanna singing, "There'll Always Be An England".

Watch Both Versions here:'

Update: Amanda recently posted some interesting information about a third version - in Spanish! I didn't know about that one, and I haven't found any footage of it yet.

For more about Nice Girl (1941):
Laura has written a great review of Nice Girl on her blog

Deanna Durbin in "Christmas Holiday" (1944)

If you happen to think this Deanna Durbin film is all about gingerbread and mistletoe, forget it. The title of this noirish drama (based on the novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham) is a bit misleading, in my opinion. And I'd rank this among my top 10 films taking place at Christmas, yet aren't necessarily "Christmas films".

Dean Harens plays an American soilder on his way home for the holidays in San Francisco. He's forced to spend time in New Orleans when his plane has to make an emergency landing. Stranded and alone on Christmas eve, he walks into a house of ill repute and meets lonely singer/prostitute Jackie Lamont (Deanna) who wants to spend the holidays with him. Does she want to go to bed with him? No, she wants to go with him to midnight Christmas mass (!) Needless to say, she has some deep, dark issues.

The film, mostly told in flashback, is about the complex situtation of Deanna's troubled character and her involvement with her husband, played by Gene Kelly, a two-faced, convicted killer. Kelly makes his film entrance from beyond the shadows of Deanna' bedroom as she sleeps. Creepy. Though Dean Harens' character is reluctant to get involved, how can he not? It's Deanna, after all.

Memorable for being Durbin's darkest film, one of Kelly's earliest films, and the one where she sings "Always". Her version became a WW2 staple. With Gale Sondergaard. Directed by Robert Siodmak. The music score by Hans Salter was nominated for an Oscar. Deanna is very good in this dramatic role, and she's beautifully photographed in every scene she's in. The film leaves you wondering why she didn't make more movies like this. Or more films, period.

Here are a few other reviews:
Classic Movies Digest.
Grand Old Movies