December 6, 2010

Life Magazine July 3, 1944 - on Deanna Durbin's dramatic film debut

Child Star to Adult

Life Magazine
(click to enlarge)
For many reasons, including her eternally youthful visage, Deanna Durbin made a relatively easy transition from childhood to adulthood in Hollywood. Other child stars often struggle to maintain the same level of fame after they grow a few inches or their voices begin changing.

Though she maintained box office hit status beyond puberty, unfortunately for our buxom brunette, the roles she played onscreen were not always as grownup as she was. So you’d have a once-divorced, mature, 24 year old actress bouncing around in pigtails, as she does in Lady On A Train (1945).

Life Magazine
(click to enlarge) 
Christmas Holiday (1944)
To mix it up a bit, Deanna Durbin appears in the taut, unrelenting drama, Christmas Holiday (1944) (read the review here). As Tom mentions, the title is deceptive. Deanna Durbin in a Christmas movie suggests she will sing old standards and generally make everyone feel good, as she always does.

Not this time.

Christmas Holiday is a brooding W.Somerset Maugham novel adapted by Herman Mankeiwicz for the screen, which follows a young lady who discovers dark secrets in her husband’s family closet and how she copes.

Life Magazine Publicity
Life Magazine was all too eager to help our star shed the cheeriness and dive into the dark with this Jul 3, 1944 spread on Ms. Durbin.
Christmas Holiday marks several  important firsts in Deanna‘s career. It is the first picture in which she plays a married woman. It is also the first time her singing has been subordinated to her acting. With her characterization of a cynical honky-tonk singer, she leaves no doubt that she is capable of handling almost any mature role.”
Life Magazine
(click to enlarge) 

It also seems to be the first time that she’s lightened her hair for a part; she would play a blonde in her next two films as well.

The Life Magazine columnist goes on to mention her salary and, perhaps to underpin the assertions that she isn’t a child anymore, mentions her divorce from Vaughn Paul, stating that she now lives in the house with her sister and nephew.

The article ends with a series of still shots from the movie to whet your appetite for this film.

However, in all of the “candid” shots of her at home, Ms. Durbin seems distant, perturbed, or just plain tired. The photos seem a bit intrusive; but such is the life of a star.

1 comment:

  1. I find "Christmas Holiday" a bit strange to watch. Here are two stars, Kelly known for musical comedy, and Deanna known for her voice and perpetual sunniness, acting furiously against type. Both do a creditable job but the relentless frown on Deanna's face, while in character, is disconcerting. One longs to see her brilliant smile, especially when she sings her opening number, "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year." I can understand why Universal hurried her back into more upbeat roles, and also while she hated the enforced stereotyping.

    Thanks for starting this blog.