October 16, 2011

It’s a Date (1940)

Deanna Durbin plays Pamela, the aspiring thespian daughter to Broadway actress Georgia Drake (Kay Francis). Mother and daughter unknowingly vie for the same part in a play and also for the affections of the same man (Walter Pidgeon). It's a thin plot, but Ms. Durbin and the rest are charming as ever.

Director William Seiter held the reigns for It’s A Date. Seiter’s catalog includes directing Shirley Temple films and early Fred Astaire musicals, such as Roberta (1935) and You Were Never Lovelier (1942). Norman Krasna penned the screen play based on original stories by Ralph J. Block, Jane Hall and Frederick Kohner.  Kohner would later write a novel about another charismatic  fictional teen, which would become a series of movies and  a television show – Gidget.
Deanna Durbin and Kay Francis
Ms. Durbin’s costars from First Love (1939) – Lee Howard and Eugene Pallette- reappear  to round out the comic supporting cast. Hungarian character actor S. Z. Sakall shines in this his Hollywood film debut. Sakall would play the baker Teschek in another of Ms. Durbin’s films, Spring Parade(1940).

Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times is enamored of Deanna Durbin and states that it is her winning personality and “young-girlish magic”  which overcome the “slightness and fragility ” of the plot,  and make It’s A Date a “practically compulsory rendezvous.”  The trailer for the movie bears this same sentiment. It simply repeats the star’s name and the title for the show allowing barely a hint at the plot. Ms. Durbin was so popular by this point, the public would gobble up just about anything in which the megastar was featured.
Deanna Durbin and Lee Howard
Songs (Those performed by Deanna Durbin are in boldface):
  • ·         "Gypsy Lullaby" (Unknown)
  • ·         "Love is All" (Tomlin, Tobias)
  • ·         "Loch Lomond" (Traditional)
  • ·         "It Happened in Kaloha" (Freed, Skinner)
  • ·         "Musetta's Waltz Song" (Puccini)
  • ·         "Rhythm of the Islands" (Cherkose, Belasco, Press)
  • ·         "Ave Maria" (Schubert)
Deanna Durbin as Pamela Drake, Kay Francis...Georgia Drake, Walter Pidgeon...John Arlen, Eugene Pallette...Governor Allen, Henry Stephenson...Captain Andrew, Cecilia Loftus...Sara Frankenstein, Samuel S. Hinds...Sidney Simpson, Lewis Howard...Freddie Miller, S.Z. Sakall...Carl Ober, Fritz Feld...Headwaiter, Virginia Brissac...Miss Holden, Romaine Callender...Evans, Joe King...First Mate Kelly, Mary Kelley...Governor's Wife, Eddie Polo...Quarter-Master, Harry Owens and his Royal Hawaiians...Themselves

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