d120421

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  1. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    Hi Fred: LADY ON A TRAIN is one of my favorite Durbin films. Because it's set on CHRISTMAS EVE and immediately after (and includes a performance by Deanna of "Silent Night"), I watch it every Christmas season and enjoy it every time. I agree that Deanna looks very beautiful (and often quite sexy) in it, though I also agree that she's more overdressed and made-up in this film than in any other, and some of her costumes are somewhat outlandish and don't completely flatter her. Still, except for a few of the "what the?" type plotholes that invariably mar films of this type, I think LADY is a wonderfully fast-paced and entertaining "screwball noir." Like all Durbin films, it's got a great supporting cast (e.g., Ralph Bellamy, Dan Duryea, George Coulouris, Allen Jenkins, Elizabeth Patterson, William Frawley, etc.) and wonderfully evocative background score by Miklos Rosza that manages to be both piquant and genuinely suspenseful as the mood dictates and outstanding cinematography (as fine as any I've seen in any film noir) by Woody Bredell. And David Bruce, who plays Deanna's leading man, may not be one of the great actors of the era, but, if it's true as David Shipman said that after graduating to romantic roles, Deanna "was plagued by dull leading men until she retired," Bruce is one of her best. He's funny and engaging as the confused mystery writer she drags into her efforts to solve the crime she's witnessed. An interesting aspect to the film's production history: It was produced by Deanna's second husband, Felix Jackson. (They eloped to Las Vegas after the film was compleled.) and directed by Charles David who became her third husband following her divorce from Jackson. It would be interesting to know whether there were any sparks between Deanna and David during the film's production.
  2. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    Hi Top-Billed: You're welcome (and thanks for taking the time to read them. Yikes!) I'm not sure to which comments you're referring, but none of them, good or bad, came from a research paper. Maybe I'll write one somewhere down the road, but I agree with whoever said earlier that writing a biography of Deanna Durbin would probably be quite difficult. The Durbin films directed by Henry Koster are generally considered to be her best, or at least, among her best. Jean Renoir, who directed much of her 1943 film THE AMAZING MRS. HOLIDAY, recalled that prior to beginning filming on that film he had all of the Durbin films screened for him and "those by Koster were certainly the best." Since Deanna was a (very shy) child with no prior acting experience (EVERY SUNDAY excepted), and he was barely conversant in English at the time they first worked together, I think it's a testament to the abilities of both that their screen partnership turned out to be such a felicitous one. Still, it can be a near thing. I think 1938's MAD ABOUT MUSIC, directed by Norman Taurog, retains much of the pacing, charm and spontaneity of the best Koster/Durbin vehicles. It is perhaps superior in one respect: Taurog's hands-off approach to directing Durbin was in stark contrast to Koster's (reportedly) acting out all the scenes for her (and others) and compelling her to act in a "big" style in some scenes, which, along with her inexperience at the time, led to some scenes in which she came across as shrill or over-emphatic. To be fair to Koster, as he later said, this may have been necessary to draw out Durbin's talent and make her act successfully for the camera, but in MUSIC, those over-emphatic/shrill moments are nowhere to be seen, even though her character is as energetic and pro-active as she was previously. As far as BECAUSE OF HIM is concerned,I guess I should begin by saying that I haven't seen it for some time. Like most Durbin fans, I consider it a weaker film than IT STARTED WITH EVE. Although it reunites Deanna with Laughton (with whom she retained a deep and lasting friendship until he died) and Franchot Tone (with whom she'd made two previous films), the script is very muddled, there's no real effort to work Deanna's three songs into the plot, and the "romance" actually supposed to be between Deanna and Franchot Tone, is barely touched upon, perhaps even less so than the Durbin/Cummings alliance in EVE. And although Deanna retains her trademark naturalness and charm, this is, to me, perhaps her most distracted performance. Even with Laughton and Tone alongside her (and she'd enjoyed working with both previously), to me, she just seems less engaged in the proceedings in this film than in any of her others, with the possible exception of the dreadful UP IN CENTRAL PARK. To be fair to Deanna, assuming I'm right, some of her perceived disinterest may be explained by her having been pregnant during the film's production. Also, to be fair to the film, her three songs (Rodgers & Hart's "Lover," "Danny Boy" and "Goodbye Forever,") are outstanding and the final one, Tosti's "Goodbye Forever," done entirely in pantomime except for Deanna's singing as she pursues Tone from his hotel room, to a ride in a crowded elevator and across the hotel lobby, is marvelous. It's a shame that the rest of the film didn't have the same imaginative touches given this scene. Laughton gives a good account of a ham actor, but even his contribution is somewhat blighted by the film's weak points. Of course, all of this is just my opinion, and, if you do see it, I'd be interested in knowing what you thought of it. PS I like Guy Kibbee's performance in EVE a lot, too, though he isn't in it very long. From a "realistic" standpoint, I fail to understand why Cummings would have so much trouble explaining the "fiancee confusion" to Kibbee and his associate (e.g., "Look Bishop, my Dad was dying, and his last request was to meet my fiancee. I couldn't find her so I asked this girl to substitute because I wanted him to be happy.") Then again, such flustered "unexplained" behavior is a trademark of screwball comedy, and I suppose given that Kibbee was playing the family bishop, Cummings' character might well have worried that he wouldn't have approved of his actions, however well-intentioned. And if I were Cummings, I'd have fired that clueless butler!
  3. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    Hi James: Thanks for the response. Regarding my suggestion that Deanna's passing may not have been "underreported" by the press, as I think I mentioned in a previous post on this thread, I thought her passing received a good deal of attention, especially considering the relative unavailability of her films for public viewing over 40+ years and her own determination to shun the celebrity spotlight for almost 65 years. As a Durbin fan, I would have liked to see more attention given to her demise, but I can't deny that, while she's consistently remained "a person of interest" throughout her life, and her work still holds a fascination and appeal for many people, she hasn't been a public celebrity for more than half a century, and her career, though (in my opinion) a significant and, in some respects, unique one, also hasn't been available for public perusal and appraisal to the degree that those of many classic stars have. Also, as Pasternak stated in the quote I cited, "her personal life never created a hullaballoo," and there's never been a biography or a FILMS OF book written about her. Finally, for more than 50 years, her personal status has largely been a classic case of "Out of sight, out of mind." I don't mean any disrespect to Shirley Temple when I state my belief that her passing will receive much greater attention than Deanna's in large part due to the fact that SHIRLEY TEMPLE THEATRE was a weekend TV staple for over three decades Still, I think it's to her credit that her passing did receive substantial obituary space in every major newspaper I saw. Some British papers opined that she was "the brightest musical star" of the Studio Era. Leonard Maltin, perhaps the best known movie critic of this era, pointedly stated in his blog tribute to her: "I'm convinced that the only people who don't like Deanna Durbin are the ones who haven't seen her films." If her impact and popularity were somewhat overlooked, she wasn't completely forgotten. In any case, I think you'd enjoy checking out more of her films, and I'd encourage you to do so if you feel so inclined. While I don't consider even the best Durbin films to be "The Greatest Films of the Century," I do consider the best of them to be among the most successful, significant and best produced "star vehicles" of the Studio Era. And in addition to the other virtues I cited in my previous post, Durbin was unquestionably the most successful adolescent actress of her era. As the first "child star" to successfully make the transition to adult roles without losing her popularity, a study of her films also provides insight for the success and mistakes Universal made in accomplishing this feat, as does a viewing of her later "adult" films, including Durbin's own participation in them and her efforts to break away from the wholesome image that made her a star. Deanna may not have had a perfect career, but she undoubtedly had a remarkable, and, in many ways, unique one. As I've said before, she would have had quite a story to tell had she chosen to do so.
  4. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    Hi Top-Billed: I agree that EVE is a light romantic comedy with musical elements (and, in my opinion, a delightful one) rather than a full "musical," at least in the conventional sense of musical films of that period. Despite the general classification of Durbin's films as "musicals," Ethan Morrden and Robert Osborne, among others, have noted that most of her films were comedies and dramas with important musical interludes. (Morrden considers 1944's CAN'T HELP SINGING as Durbin's only real "musical" and has observed that she must be the only great musical star of the Studio Era who was almost always the only musical performer in her films.) In fact, in publicity for EVE prior to its' release, director Henry Koster and Universal openly acknowledged that one difference between Deanna's films and those of other musical star contemporaries was that they felt her acting talent was as strong as her vocal talent and could be featured far more heavily, without many musical numbers, compared to those of many musical actors and actresses of the time. I realize that some people may disagree with that opinion, but I think EVE and other Durbin films, clearly demonstrates the confidence Universal had in presenting Deanna as a singing actress as opposed to a "musical" star. In any case, I think EVE does clearly demonstrate why Deanna was such a worldwide favorite at the time. Unlike the Jean Arthurs, Ginger Rogerses and Lucille Balls who played working girls (secretaries, maids, shopgirls, etc.) who happened to fall in love with wealthy men, Durbin's "Anne Terry" is only working as a hatcheck girl to support herself and pay for her vocal lessons as she embarks on a hoped-for musical/opera career, and even before she enters the Reynolds mansion, it's made clear she's not intimidated by the "upper class" in the scene where she comments on the nickel tip she receives as "some new $5 coin they're putting out!" As the many comments written by fans at the time clearly deomonstrate, Durbin's pro-active, independent and resourceful screen persona was a major aspect of her appeal. And unlike the more passive and lovelorn images crafted for contemporary musical actresses like Judy Garland at MGM and Alice Faye at 20th Century Fox, Durbin is pro-active and independent in reaching her goal. Unlike Garland, she doesn't require a Mickey Rooney to acknowledge her talent and provide an appropriate showcase for it. Unlike Faye, she doesn't need a Tyrone Power or John Payne, Durbin is capable of pursuing her dream on her own (in this case, winning over Laughton and convincing him of her talent so he'll sponsor her). The film also scores points with me for its' brisk pacing and slightly acerbic edge. As some commentators have noted, it opens with some good-natured satirizing of the same year's CITIZEN KANE with the local newspaper editor salivating over elderly "Gotrocks" Laughton's imminent demise so he can scoop his rivals and a pair of "ravens" from the local museum literally camped out in the mansion's foyer so they can take Laughton's"death mask" before rigormortis sets in. I think EVE also deserves some credit for its' relatively subdued presentation of Margaret Tallichet's "Other Woman" character. A stock character in romantic comedy, the "other woman" is usually presented to audiences as an out-and-out shrike, such as Gail Patrick's bride in 1940's MY FAVORITE WIFE. This is not the case with Tallichet's "Gloria," who is shown to be warm, patient and considerate of Cummings' dilemma. In a clever (and in romantic comedies of the period) relatively unique variation, Tallichet's "shrewish" qualities are largely seen as a matter of "potential" with Cummings' growing concern that she will turn out to be like her bulldozing and thoughtless mom, Catherine Doucette. To the film's credit, whatever failings Tallichet may possess in these areas are barely shown onscreen. One exception may be the scene where Tallichet hugs Cummings and calls him a "Honey Lamb darling" with just a touch of insincerity. But, unlike most romantic comedies, for the most part, Tallichet's failings are referenced offscreen, as in Cummings' response to Durbin's acknowledgement that "She's acting wonderfully" (Cummings: "She is like HECK!") Even here, Cummings quickly acknowledges that he blames Doucette more for Tallichet's growing waspishness than he does Tallichet herself. And, as in many Durbin films in which older men are featured (e.g., ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL, MAD ABOUT MUSIC, NICE GIRL?) the relationship between Durbin and Laughton is sketched with warmth, and, reflecting the very affectionate and admiring relationship they enjoyed offscreen, performed with genuine warmth (and chemistry) both both actors. If, as many feel, a weakness of EVE is the lack of a pronounced "romance" between the Cummings and Durbin characters, the film doesn't resort to a blatant "I love you!" scene between the two. I feel that, in the case of Durbin and Cummings, EVE shows two young people brought together by circumstance, who develop a growing attraction to each other which may, if encouraged (as Laughton certainly attempts to do) lead to lasting love/marriage. As far as the Durbin and Cummings characters themselves are concerned, however, for much of the film, they're too preoccupied with their own "problems" (Durbin in furthering her musical ambitions and Cummings in being able to present the "right girl" to his Dad) to really notice each other. Of course, this cluelessness by both characters, provides a major plot device for the Laughton character, because he senses/can see their "suitability" for each other and does what he can to promote the "romance." To me, to the film's credit, it presents what romantic elements there are for Durbin and Cummings somewhat subtlely. As acknowledged by his broad smile and unabashed stare, Cummings first really notices Durbin when she's performing her "audition" piece for Laughton at the piano. Again, to EVE's credit, the piece is not a coventional "love song (e.g., "Now It Can Be Told" from ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND or "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" from EASTER PARADE) but the incongruously zesty, lightning-fast "Clavelitos." (sung in Spanish yet!) Cummings' softening attitude toward the Durbin character is touched on in their subsequent conversation at the foot of the mansion staircase, as he, for the first time, acknowledges that he can understand "what prompted" Durbin's efforts to be heard by Laughton's musical friends, expresses his growing concerns re Tallichet's potential unsuitability, and acknowledges that Laughton's affectionate and admiring attitude toward Durbin stands in stark contrast to the majority of girlfriends he's brought home in the past. In a nice bit, which I think the writers intended to show the growing attraction between the two characters, they start off their conversation on the same step, but, as they ponder how to get "Anne" out of the party, Cummings, looking a little distracted, moves to the first step on the other side of the staircase. Then, as Durbin and Cummings attempt to formulate a plan, their growing preoccupation with each other is shown by each one turning away from the other so they can think up a plan without being distracted. Despite the Durbin character's tears in her scenes with Laughton after he reveals that he's known about the ruse (one of which is partly inspired by her swig of Laughton's 1000% proof brew), neither she nor Cummings seeks to "repair" the damage done to their budding romance. At the nightclub, Cummings tells Durbin off and she responds (rightly!) by throwing a drink in his face and walking out. (To the film's credit (in my opinion), it shows Cummings looking confused rather than furious that she did it.) In the next scene, we see Durbin once again attempting to board that pesky train and, once again, annoyed at Cummings for charing in and stopping her from boarding it. And although some of Cummings' comments to Durbin ("You can't run out on yourself this way!") suggest he's developed a new appreciation for her, the plot makes clear that Cummings' primary purpose in seeking Durbin out again is because he believes Laughton is about to die. Finally, Durbin's vocals are well-used to accent the plot of the film rather than to interrupt or overwhelm it. Durbin's sunny "When I Sing" variation on Tchaikovsky's "Sleeping Beauty Waltz," not only shows the rejuvenative powers of her singing re Laughton's health and proves to him her genuine talent, her performance of it stands in contrast to the gloom of the mansion itself, the hovering "ravens," and even Durbin's reasons for singing the song. (Raven: "Are you going to sing something sad?" Deanna: "No, I'm going to sing something LOUD!") To the production team's credit, once the song has served its' purpose, they allow it to be interrupted and discontinued. While it provides an opportunity to show Cummings' growing attraction to Durbin (and Laughton's awareness of it), Durbin's performance of "Clavelitos" is nominally only done to demonstrate to Laughton the song she intends to sing at the party. And her performance of "Going Home," which she stops when she begins shedding tears, can be seen as both her frustration over her growing attraction for Cummings and her blighted musical hopes. EVE's not a perfect film, to be sure, but it's a very well-made, stylish warm and even, at times, subtle romantic comedy that, in my opinion, deserves more credit than it sometimes receives. Edited by: markus21 on Jan 12, 2014 3:57 PM
  5. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    Hi Top-Billed: I think you are trying to have it go both ways in your arguments. First, you tell James that she is unknown (as opposed to being forgotten) because her films are unavailable to the general public. Then, a few paragraphs down, you say she is outselling Dietrich and Colbert in home video. That would suggest she is very much available to new audiences. So why is she still relatively unknown? It cannot all be based on the fact that cable is not playing her movies-- when in fact, TCM does show them. First, my apologies for any confusion, but concerning the availability of Deanna's films I don't believe I'm "trying to have it both ways." I haven't reviewed my most recent posts to this particular thread, but I have repeatedly stated in previous comments that Deanna's films, despite much evidence that she retains an enduring appeal to those who have seen her work/heard of her, through the decades, her filI simply haven't been available for regular public viewing/television fare, as have the films of the Garlands, Davises, Crawfords, Gables, Cagneys, Bogarts and other contemporary classic film stars. While I stand by my opinion that the willingness of so many people to fork over $19.95 plus tax to own the videos in the DEANNA DURBIN COLLECTION is strong evidence of Deanna's appeal despite (at that time) over 40 years of determined privacy out of the public spotlight, even this viewing option can't compare to the (at that time) 40+ years of "Late Show" "Mid-Morning Movie" "Classic Movie Showcase" screenings of many of Deanna's contemporaries. Classic film fans can "love" and appreciate the ouvres, and careers of Garland, Davis, Gable, et. al. because they've always been readily available with the push of a TV dial for viewing. It's true, that prior to the advent of "Home Theatre" options like VHS tapes and DVDs, if you were interested in the films of a particular favorite, you had to troll the TV listings to find when their films would be broadcast, and it often involved setting one's alarm clock for some "Late Late Show" post-midnight broadcasts, but, even prior to the advent of the VCR, with some effort on a classic film fan's part, you could be assured of seeing at least half a dozen films, and very often more, of the aforementioned stars (and many others) every year, and, of course, if you liked what you saw,these films could whet your appetite for seeking out the more obscure, less frequently shown films of a star you'd come to admire. This was not an option available to fans of Deanna Durbin. Despite evidence from columnists, film historians, etc. that she was among the most-requested of classic film stars by the public, her films were simply not available on a regular basis for discovering her work, talent or legacy. I have little doubt that one reason so many people ponied up to purchase THE DEANNA DURBIN COLLECTION VHS sets was because they didn't have any other way (aside from seeking the films out in the video rental shops or perhaps, the public library) of seeing them, and they wanted to be able to (and to re-watch them) badly enough that they felt the cost of the sets was worthwhile. In any case, it's a trend that has continued into the cable TV era. TCM will be showing THREE SMART GIRLS in February for the first time since it premiered and had a few subsequent showings on the channel in 2006. The May 4, 2012 8 pm TCM showing of ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL is the first time TCM has shown that film since it premiered in 2006, and, at least as far as I know, the recent TCM premiere of IT STARTED WITH EVE on December 30, 2013 which has inspired this thread, is the first time EVE has been shown since AMERICAN MOVIE CLASSICS ran it (and a handful of other Durbin titles) as part of its' Annual "Film Preservation Festival" in the early or mid-1990s. Compare this with last night's TCM Essentials showing of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, the second time NIGHT (and LADY FOR A DAY which followed it) were broadcast within a week. During the recent Christmas season, Judy Garland films MEET ME IN ST LOUIS and IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME, were also shown more than once within a week (if not days) of each other, and TCM also threw in a showing of Garland's most notable ANDY HARDY film, 1938's LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY. Hopefully, this clears up any confusion. As to the other points raised, I would argue that at least a few of Deanna's films are worthy of consideration for their success and impact. Deanna's first two vehicles received Best Picture Oscar nominations, and she did pretty much receive universal acclaim for her performances. She was (rightly, I think) singlehandedly credited with proving that an adolescent performer could be both a potent and enduring superstar attraction. ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL was the first American film to successfully present instrumental classical music in a manner that won acclaim and favor with the movie-going public. Finally, Deanna's success was also responsible for re-writing the manner in which Hollywood presented classical siniging onscreen. Following Deanna's success in the late 1930s, Hollywood almost completely abandoned its' previous common practice of presenting filmed operettas for young vocalists in the "Durbin mode" (e.g., Betty Jaynes, Gloria Jean, Susanna Foster, Kathryn Grayson, Gloria Warren, Jane Powell, Ann Blyth, Lois Wilson, etc.) in musicals or "comedies with music that spotlighted them as normal kids/young women who just happened to have major singing talent. I do agree that one reason her death was "under-reported," (for those who feel that it was) was that she managed, with relatively few exceptions to have a major career without scandal or controversy, and subsequently, to live a quiet private life, which, occasional press-initiated updates on her status excepted was out of the celebrity spotlight. These "quiet and private) qualities were acknowledged as early as 1969 by producer Joe Pasternak in a comparison he made between the post-Studio Era careers of Deanna and Judy Garland in JUDY: THE FILMS AND CAREER OF JUDY GARLAND: Deanna was not a topic of sensation-except for her talent. About Judy there are legends. She always made news. People wanted to write about Judy because she was explosive and unpredictable. You'd have to be a psychiatrist to judge why one child adjusts better than another. Durbin was much more settled. She came from a much happier home life and her personal life never created a hullaballoo. She retired early. She knew when to quit-before they quit her. She's still the same delightful girl she ever was. Thanks for listening (and apologies for overlength!) Edited by: markus21 on Jan 12, 2014 2:25 PM
  6. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    Hi James: I am confused given that your opening statement was "I stand by my POV that Durbin is mostly forgotten..." and I admit I attempted to qualify that statement by pointing out that, due to the lack of ready availability of her films over several decades, she may not be so much forgotten, as unknown to a large segment of the public which hadn't seen her work. In any case, I think we can agree that there is a large segment of the **** that hasn't had an opportunity to see Durbin's films. As far as the rest is concerned, I don't recall mentioning a "1980s survey" in my examples. If I'm mistaken I apologize, but I believe I referenced examples from the mid-1990s and beyond. And while more of Deanna's contemporaries were undoubtedly alive at that time than are today, even 1996 was approximately 50 years after Deanna retired. Moreover these Durbin contemporaries were also contemporaries of Colbert, Crosby, Wayne, Hope, Dietrich and the other stars in the MCA/UNIVERSAL HOME VIDEO Collectioins, yet they (and other new fans who discovered her) purchased more Durbin videos than those devoted to any of the others, and like the Durbin films many of the films offered in the sets of other stars (e.g., Crosby's BIRTH OF THE BLUES, RHYTHM ON THE RIVER, Colbert's MIDNIGHT, BLUEBEARD'S FIRST WIFE, etc.) were also rarely shown on television at the time. So, I stand by my opinion that Durbin created (and continues to create) an indelible impression on those who have seen her work. As for the coverage of her passing, while it wasn't front page news, as far as I could see, her death did receive extensive write-ups in every major paper I saw (NEW YORK TIMES, L.A. TIMES, BOSTON GLOBE, WASHINGTON POST, etc. and several British newspapers). I thought this was impressive given that her films have had limited availability and she had not appeared in public (and had limited public comments) over the past (approximately) 64 years. And, as I mentioned in passing, there are other examples of Durbin's enduring popularity. One of the most relevant would be the recent limited edition release of the DEANNA DURBIN MUSIC AND ROMANCE COLLECTION by TCM & MCA/UNIVERSAL. It was originally planned that the films in the collection would be released in DVD-R format, but the demand was such that release of the set was postponed several times so that TCM & MCA/UNIVERSAL could release them in pressed disc format.
  7. d120421

    Marcia Mae Jones

    I can't answer your question re THE WAY WE WERE, but I do like Marcia Mae Jones a lot. She could be both kind ("Clara" in HEIDI) and mean-spirited ("Lavinia" in THE LITTLE PRINCESS), and she was a great "gal pal" to the star of some films ("Olga" in MAD ABOUT MUSIC with Deanna Durbin.) I think her most best performance may have been as "Rosalie Wells" in 1936's THESE THREE. Although Bonita Granville received the majority of critical attention (and an Oscar nomination) for her performance as the malevolent brat whose lies almost ruin the lives of Miriam Hopkins, Merle Oberon and Joel McCrea, Jones is just as impressive as Granville's terrified "vassal."
  8. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    *In my own opinion, her "saving the studio" (according to writers and film historians for the last few decades, not just "fan" opinions), certainly has a basis in the consistent success of her titles but also the fact that she helped to change the public impression of Universal through that series of highly popular films. They stopped being looked down upon by some as being inferior.* I agree, Paulino. First, Deanna Durbin was not making GONE WITH THE WIND each year. Compared to other more expensive offerings at other studios, Deanna's films which were mostly in the same vein (with the exception of the film she made with Gene Kelly) would not have exactly made Universal more chic. It was probably not until the studio became Universal-International in the mid-to-late 40s that it began to alter its image. Interestingly, this is when Deanna Durbin's film career was winding down. Hi Top-Billed: Durbin's films, especially the first 10 produced between 1936-1941, were not only among the most popular, but among the most admired of their time. The contemporary press was full of praise and astonishment from critics and commentators that each successive Durbin film seemed even more successful and "better" than the previous one (over which, they'd also raved). The consistent string of Durbin "hits" featuring an adolescent female as the top star attraction was a source of amazement and admiration to critics and Hollywood scribes around the world. Her first two films received Oscar nominations for "Best Picture" and the others consistently made Top Ten lists of the most popular/admired films of their respective years. For instance, check out THE NEW YORK TIMES' "10 Best Lists" for the late 1930s/early 1940s and you will note that several of Durbin's films receive "Honorable Mention" as among the best films of the year, while other better known titles including (to my surprise) THE WIZARD OF OZ, did not. Moreover, while Universal did hedge its' bet by limiting the budget of Durbin's first film. THREE SMART GIRLS to a modest $300,000. the spectacular success of TSGs. caused Universal to more than double the budgets of her next film, 1937's ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL, and to raise the budgets of her subsequent films even higher, so that they were comparable to the budgets of other "A" list productions of the period such as (at Universal) co-starring vehicles for top stars like Charles Boyer and Margaret Sullavan (BACK STREET), Irene Dunne and Robert Montgomery (UNFINISHED BUSINESS) and Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne (THE FLAME OF NEW ORLEANS). Her films of this period also had comparable budgets to those at MGM starring their talented team duo of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland (e.g., BABES IN ARMS, STRIKE UP THE BAND.) The universal praise lavished on Durbin and her films at that time (and the huge profits they generated) did indeed demonstrate to Hollywood that Universal could produce quality "A" list productions that would find unanimous favor with both critics and the public, and enabled the studio to sign other top names to (unlike Durbin) short term contracts for top-quality productions. As William K. Everson noted in a 1976 FILMS IN REVIEW article on Durbin's career: "When Universal anounced plans for "the New Universal" in 1939, it was the profits from the Durbin films (soon to be joined by the equally staggering profits from the Abbott and Costello films) that enabled them to do so."
  9. d120421

    It Started With Eve

    I stand by by POV that Durbin is mostly forgotten by most of the general public today. Why do I think this? Well when she died the amount of press about her death was way less than she 'deserved' based on how big she was back in her peak years. I cannot think of another star that was as big as she was (in terms of box office and popularity), that received as little media coverage as she did. I disagree. I believe Durbin is unknown by a large segment of the general public today because, at the risk of repeating myself, her films have not been nearly as readily available for public viewing as those of the stars to whom she is being compared (e.g., Davis, Crawford, Stanwyck, etc.) This is not the same as being "forgotten" where the majority of the public today was not alive when her work was readily available to be seen and evaluated. The paradox in Durbin's case, is how enduring her popularity remains among those who have heard of her/been exposed to her work. For decades she has been at or near the top of many lists of requests from the public for the films/recordings of classic stars. As David Shipman noted in his biographical sketch of Durbin in the last (mid-1990s) edition of his THE GREAT MOVIE STARS: THE GOLDEN YEARS, "The BBC has reported for years that it receives more requests from the public for Durbin's films and recordings (followed by those of Alice Faye) than for those of any other star of Hollywood's Great Age." After her break with MGM (and after Deanna retired), Judy Garland went on (rightly) to become one of the iconic figures of 20th century entertainment, with a filmography that was readily available for public screenings, discovery and evaluation/dissemination for 40+ years before anyone had even heard of TCM, not to mention the four decades or so of annual prime time network screenings of her most iconic film, THE WIZARD OF OZ. Yet in a 2000 BBC Wales radio poll asking the public to identify the 20th Century's Greatest Entertainers, Deanna, at "Number 3" was the top female candidate, while Judy came in at Number 10. Now, I'm well aware that this may have been an isolated incident, but it's yetanother example of an enduring devotion to Durbin from those who have heard of her and seen/heard her work. And one can add to these examples the comments of pop culture archivist Richard Lamparski, who noted in the last edition of his WHATEVER BECAME OF? series of books that, for 30+ years updated the public on the lives/status of celebrities who had dropped out of the public spotlight:"[Deanna Durbin] remains, as she has been since the first volume in this series was published, the most consistently asked about star of the past" Then there's the reports from MCA/UNIVERSAL home video that the DEANNA DURBIN COLLECTION, released in the mid-1990s, became the best-selling set of videos devoted to a classic film star in the company's history. This would mean that Durbin videos outsold sets devoted to such unquestionably "better known" classic stars as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, George Burns, Marlene Dietrich, Abbott and Costello, etc., etc. Or AMERICAN MOVIE channel, which, in the mid-1990s obtained the right to limited showings of a handful of Durbin's films and, during the introductions to the screenings, stated that she had been the most requested "classic film star"by viewers of the channel since its' inception. And there are other examples to be cited. When Shipman noted in his 1980s survey THE STORY OF CINEMA that Durbin "enjoyed a sweet and satisfying revenge" for her early retirement for "she invariably heads every list" of requests from the public for films of Studio Era stars, he may have had a point.
  10. Hi Flutie 22: I know Deanna's films have been shown occasionally on TV through the years. In fact, I first saw several of them when PBS broadcast them as part of one of its' fundraising drives in the 1980s. This was why I said they hadn't been available for "regular broadcast" over the past 50 years, e.g., not like the regular, frequent screenings of films from Warner Bros., MGM and other studios that were standard TV fare for decades. I should have been clearer about that. My apologies for the confusion. I do recall during that during the fundraising breaks on the PBS station that was showing Deanna's films, the station manager said several times that the fact that they were showing "Deanna Durbin movies" was proof that the station listened to viewer requests. He said they'd been receiving many requests to show them for years, but that they weren't available for public broadcast. They finally became available, however briefly, and the station managed to get the rights to broadcast them for a while.
  11. I'd love to see an appropriate TCM tribute to Deanna, but given the paucity of Durbin films that TCM owns outright for broadcast (it only owns the rights to 1940's IT'S A DATE and has leased the other Durbin titles it has shown), I don't think it likely in the foreseeable future. This is why Durbin's films are not better known, not because there isn't an audience for them. (When released in the mid-1990s on VHS the DEANNA DURBIN COLLECTION became the best selling set of films devoted to a "classic Hollywood star" in the history of MCA/UNIVERSAL Home Video), but because they aren't available for regular broadcast, and haven't been for almost 50 years. As for why Durbin should be considered a more than worthy candidate for such a tribute here are a few factors to consider which, I think, are not debateable (though I certainly welcome input on whether that statement is accurate): -She was almost certainly America's, and unquestionably filmdom's first "Teen Idol." The first performer, male or female, who disproved the long held notion of studio executives throughout Hollywood that an adolescent performer was "box office poison."; -In many ways, she was Hollywood's greatest "Teen Star." Although there were successful adolescent actors and actresses prior to Durbin's debut (e.g., Mickey Rooney, Bonita Granville, Anne Shirley), she was the first film performer whose instantaneous and enormous popularity was predicated on her BEING an adolescent. She is also the only one of her talented adolescent film peers (and follow-ups) whose stardom was predicated on selling her appeal and her appeal alone. Unlike Mickey Rooney, whose rise to stardom was contemporaneous with Durbin and who owed his phenomenal success largely to his being cast in the hugely successful ANDY HARDY films (not to mention his teamings with Judy Garland and his co-starring stints with other top stars like Wallace Beery, Freddie Bartholomew and Spencer Tracy and others), Durbin appeared exclusively in ORIGINAL scripts that took advantage of her enormous worldwide popularity to sell HER appeal. Thus, more than any other child star of the Studio Era, audiences watched Durbin mature in a lineal fashion, and audiences flocked to see such milestones in her onscreen development as her first "beau" (Jackie Moran in MAD ABOUT MUSIC) her first "older man crush" (Melvyn Douglas in THAT CERTAIN AGE) her first onscreen kiss (Robert Stack in FIRST LOVE) her first "serious" romance with a mature man (Walter Pidgeon in IT'S A DATE) and her efforts to lose her virginity to an older man (Franchot Tone in NICE GIRL?) While Mickey Rooney was also "Andy Hardy," as Universal's advertising campaigns for her films consistently demonstrated, it didn't matter whether Durbin was "Penny Craig," "Patsy Cardwell," "Alice Fullerton," "Connie Harding," or "Jane Dana," audiences flocked to see DEANNA whatever the character's name was. -Deanna Durbin was the only musical star of the Studio Era to carry her films to success singlehandedly. Through 21 feature films for Universal, she was always THE star attraction of every film: not only the central character around whom the motivations of the other characters revolved, but the center of all the publicity/advertising of her films. This was as true of her first film, THREE SMART GIRLS ("Film debut of Deanna Durbin! Radio's Sensational Songbird!") as it was of her last, 1948's FOR THE LOVE OF MARY ("She's got them all on her party line!") in advertisements showing White House telephonist Durbin surrounded by the leading men in the film. To this day, according to a longtime Durbin fan, she still holds the record as the only performer in film history to singlehandedly carry ten successive films to universal critical and box office success, and while critical response to some of her later vehicles was more mixed, her string of box office successes continued well into the 1940s. -This was an especially remarkable feat as Durbin was the only great musical star of the Studio Era to hardly ever share the musical programs of her films with another performer. She was not only the only vocalist in most of her films, she was almost always the only musical presence, and due to the simplicity of the staging of her numbers, and her enormous popularity with audiences, I can't think of another film vocalist, male or female, child or adult of the Studio Era, who had to rely so consistently and exclusively on their singing and acting talent and charm to put over their song selections. In fact, according to Ethan Mordden, she really only appeared in one true "musical" as the other studios would define the term: 1944's CAN'T HELP SINGING. -Deanna Durbin was the first popular film "child star" to successfully make the transition to adult performer onscreen while retaining her popularity. -Not one of Durbin's 21 feature films for Universal was a "B" movie. All of them were "A" list productions with top line talents in front of and behind the camera, and all of them were at least as highly budgeted as contemporaneous vehicles produced by Universal CO-STARRING top stars of the period like James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, Dietrich and John Wayne, Irene Dunne and Robert Montgomery, and Margaret Sullavan and Charles Boyer. On camera, Durbin's supporting casts are a continuous creme-de-la-creme of Hollywood's finest character actors of the period: people like Alice Brady, Eugene Pallette, Walter Brennan, Adolph Menjou, William Frawley, Helen Broderick, Frank Jenks, Akim Tamiroff, Hugo Haas, and Margaret Wycherly added texture and spice to the Durbin scripts while complimenting her own considerable talent as an actress and comedienne. Behind the camera, Durbin had top craftsmen working on her films such as directors Henry Koster Jean Renoir, and Frank Borzage, top cameramen like Joseph Valentine and Woody Brendell, top composers for the background scores of her films like Miklos Rosza, Charles Previn and Johnny Green and top designers like Vera West, Adrian and Orry-Kelly. She may not have had the advantage of a longstanding, continually developing entity like MGM's iconic "Freed Unit," but, as Ethan Mordden observed in his book THE HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS: "Durbin's vehicles stand out from all other Universal series by natur of their distinguished casts-again, with much free-lancing and borrowing." Where Universal cut corners on Durbin fims was usually most apparent in the casting of her romantic leads once she graduated to mature roles. While film historian David Shipman may not be entirely accurate in his opinion that once she graduated to romantic roles Deanna "was to be plagued by dull leading men until she retired," she never did get to appear opposite a star of comparable box office clout and eminence, her closest one probably being the middle-aged Charles Laughton, who, though delightful in his films with her, never was cast as a romantic lead. Universal also cut corners in the "original scores" given to Durbin films. Mordden is correct that only once, in 1944's CAN'T HELP SINGING, did Deanna have a top drawer composer/yricist team working on her behalf. She didn't enjoy the benefits that contemporary musical talents at rival studios like RKO, MGM, 20TH CENTURY and PARAMOUNT did of top musical talents like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen and Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer composing original scores for her. Still, the scores of her films, with their mixture of new songs, classic showpieces, and much loved "folk" and concert songs, were unlike any other scores of the period, marked her as perhaps the most versatile film vocalist of the period (certainly one of them) and used music in a way that was entirely different from the "let's put on a show" format of most contemporary musical produtions and among those talents whose works she promoted were: Mozart, Puccini, Bizet, Flotow, Delibes, and, in a less "classical" vein: Cole Porter, Robert Stoltz, Frank Loesser, Jimmy McHugh, Johnny Green and Leo Robin. Perhaps not equal to the best of MGM or Astaire/Rogers at RKO, but not a bad lot overall. Perhaps more significantly, and more impressively, given that she seldom had top original music masters for her films, Deanna's instantaneous and enduring success, more than any other factor, was responsible for rewriting the rules for the manner in which Hollywood presented classical music and singing onscreen. Not only was she solo, top-billed in the first Hollywood production to successfully present classical music onscreen in a popular vein (1937's ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL), but, following her success, Hollywood, with the exception of a few half-hearted tries (.e.g, Ilona Massey, Irene Manning, Rise Stevens) abandoned its' efforts to present "screen operettas" of the MacDonald/Eddy and Grace Moore genres and jumped on the "Teen Soprano" bandwagon, as rival studios, and Universal itself, scrambled to find their own talented and charismatic young classical singers (e.g., Gloria Jean, Betty Jaynes, Susanna Foster, Kathryn Grayson, Gloria Warren, Ann Blyth, Jane Powell, etc.) to carve out a piece of the economic gold rush Deanna and her films excited. While several of these talented young ladies rightly went on to notable careers of their own, none excited the enormous popularity and adoration of the original. Durbin WAS a true original, and an innovator, and her legacy deserves a proper tribute.
  12. d120421

    Deanna Durbin 1921 - 2013

    > {quote:title=jamesjazzguitar wrote:}{quote}Not to sound too contrary, but if Durbin did say that maybe that is what set Judy off! > > I mean, in some ways Judy died for her craft, and here is Durbin who retired early and was living the easy life. > > Even if one assumes Durbin didn't mean to be offensive that statement could be interpreted as offensive especially by someone like Judy, where the business took so much out of her. Not to sweat, James! This allegedly profane comment attributed to Deanna was entirely the product of writer Gore Vidal's imagination for his book, PALIMPSET. To add dramatic flair to his book, Vidal took an innocuous comment Judy related to Merv Griffin on Griffin's talk show. Griffin asked Judy if she ever had any contact with Deanna and (I think) Judy replied that she had spoken with Deanna during one of her concert tours of Europe. After relating some of her personal and professional struggles to Deanna, Judy said that Deanna replied, with no malice or sarcasm: "Why don't you get out of that business, you dumbbell?" It apparently was too mundane an exchange for Vidal's purposes and he felt the need to spice it up a bit.
  13. d120421

    Deanna Durbin 1921 - 2013

    > {quote:title=sjack wrote:}{quote}Nice to read your post Markus. Was wondering where you were once I'd read that she'd passed. I remembered you as a Durbin expert. I agree that there were Judy fans that disparaged Deanna. I belonged to several online forums/clubs devoted to Judy and I don't remember reading more than a few posts/comments about Deanna that didn't contain some negativity. I've learned that a small subset of Judy Garland fans are a truly odd lot and I think these "fans" were insecure about how sucessful Deanna's career and her live were compared to Judy's. If one was to be honest, Deanna pretty much had her beat on several important points. She became a star first, her career was more sucessful that Judy's for all but the tail end, and most importantly, she was able to handle being a huge movie star. Judy's last years were pretty sad; and while I'm certain Deanna/Edna Mae's last years weren't a walk in the part, she did manage to live them on her own terms. > > Judy lucked out on being at the right studio - one can only imagine what MGM could have done had they signed Deanna - at the right time. And having a post Hollywood career that attracted many devoted fans, many of whom still "follow" her to this day. I hate competitions of this sort, why we Americans insist on ranking everything in some sort of "best of " order (a personal pet peeve of mine). They were both pretty, hugely talented young women who we are lucky to be able to see perform at their best. I don't think Judy resented Deanna as much as she envied the fact that Deanna turned her back her career and never looked back, while Judy ended up being destroyed by hers. > > > Reading the obituarys I have gotten a sense that Judy might have owed her entire movie career to Deanna in a sense; when seeing the rushes for "Always on Sunday" MGM head Mayer had actually meant to sign Deanna. Once Deanna became a big star he vowed that he would make Judy an even bigger star, and his studio certainly had the wherewithal to do just that, and they in fact did make Judy a star. Perhaps he *did* in fact choose Judy over Deanna -- we'll never really know but the fact remains that the MGM star making machinery went in to action once Deanna became an instant sucess and overnight star. You'd think Judy's fans could at least appreciate that. In any sense I'm sure Miss Durbin didn't stay awake nights worrying over any of this; she was long gone from Hollywood and happily living the life of a wife, mother, world traveler -- or whatever she wanted. I'm sure she cuoldn't have cared less about what Judy or any of her "fans" thought about her. > > > She did good. > > > (nice to see you again Markus) > Hi Sjack! It's GREAT to hear from you! I hope you're doing well. I don't get out to the JG MESSAGE BOARD very often these days, but about a week ago I was thinking that I hadn't seen any comments from you for a while and was hoping that all was well with you. I agree that it's probably a minority of Judy fans that have made very disparaging comments about Deanna. Most Garland fans I know of treat Deanna the same way they would any other celebrity: they either love, like her, don't feel one or way or another about her, or they dislike her, but those who DO dislike her usually aren't so nasty about it. And, after all, they're entitled to their opinions, however they feel. I also agree that while Judy may have envied Deanna for the (supposedly) savvy way she managed her career and personal life, ultimately being able to make a choice between celebrity and a personal life that Judy, perhaps, never could, I think that Judy genuinely admired Deanna's talent and was genuinly appreciative of the tremendous boost that Deanna early and enduring success gave to her career and those of other young adolescent actresses. As I noted earlier, throughout her life, Judy often openly and gratefully acknowledged the positive impact that Deanna had on her career. As far as Judy owing her entire career to Deanna ("in a sense" as you've astutely noted), when comments like that come up, I'm always reminded of a comment John Fricke made on a radio talk show when he was promoting JUDY: A LIFE IN ART AND ANECDOTE. In his introductory comments Mr. Fricke had said that Judy wasn't really another "Shirley Temple" because she was older and though Shirley's incredible success made Hollywood gaga over child stars, Judy, because she was a young teen, when she started, wasn't really helped by the Temple phenomenon. A few minutes later, a caller to the program asked Mr. Fricke what impact, if any, he thought Deanna's success at Universal had on Judy's career. Mr. Fricke replied: "I think it would be impossible to overestimate the impact that Deanna Durbin had on Judy's career." In many ways, I think there's a lot of truth to that statement. Not just because Deanna and Judy were both the same "awkward" age, but because they both had the same remarkable gift: incredibly mature adult singing voices and the musicality and dramatic flair to use them appropriately, so that, as incongrously "adult" as the voice sounded coming from these two young ladies, they were produced so naturally and artlessly that people didn't have a problem accepting them onscreen, on radio, or in recordings. As far as the "problem" faced by Mayer and MGM studio executives in deciding which girl to keep under contract, honestly, I could see it going either way, with both Deanna and Judy having assets and liabilities that may genuinely have stymied the MGM brass. For instance, both girls not only had those remarkable voices, they both had incredible and singular presence/personality onscreen. Louella Parsons probably expressed the critical concensus on Deanna after seeing a preview of THREE SMART GIRLS when she commented: "I'm telling you, you'd better learn to pronounce Deanna Durbin's name correctly right now. If possible, this little girl has the presence of a Garbo and the voice of a Grace Moore." And the NEW YORK TIMES called Judy's scene stealing performance of "Dear Mr. Gable" in her MGM feature debut: "probably the greatest tour-de-force in recent screen history." In trying to decide which girl to gamble on for potential stardom I think studio executives must have had to consider Deanna's more conventional attractiveness (she was a beautiful young girl with a slim figure and a dazzling smile) against adorable young Judy's slightly unconventional figure (a short neck, thick waist and long legs with an unfortunate tendency to put weight on more prominently above the waist) with Judy's much more extensive showbiz experience/training (she not only knew how to SING, but how to sell a song wonderfully) vs. Deanna's innate shyness and lack of prior professional experience/training (other than performing at various local clubs and churches, I think Deanna only had a couple of years of formal vocal instruction on the local level before MGM signed her). Finally, there were the two disparate vocal styles, and both, I think, were cause for concern. Of course, both Deanna and Judy had incredible natural voices, but Deanna, who sang arias, operetta and lieder in different languages with such spectacular ease, literally was a miniature operatic diva, one who, reportedly received a bigger round of applause when she performed at a studio function that included a performance by the great American dramatic soprano Rosa Ponselle. While such talent augured well for "specialty" numbers in musical films like the BROADWAY MELODY series, Metro may very well have wondered how they could sell such an unusual talent as a "star." Judy's "pop" singing would seem to have the edge here. After all, MGM was an American movie studio and Judy sang American popular song with a "swing" "jazz" influence in a very "American" style to which audiences throughout the U.S. could probably more readily relate than to Deanna's opera/classical style. On the other hand, the neophyte Metro Judy, still singing torch songs by much more adult and "seasoned" vocalists like Helen Morgan, Ethel Merman and Ruth Etting, often sang with an intensity that audiences might find off-putting in a young girl, however spectacularly gifted. Watching Judy's films it seems to me that her career really began to take off after Metro developed a more demure singing/acting screen persona for her. Beginning in films like LISTEN, DARLING and LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY, MGM, or probably more specifically, Roger Edens, began to concentrate more heavily on Judy's softer, "crooning" style of singing. Notice that in LISTEN, DARLING, Judy's performance of her standby "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart!" is much more introspective than the "swinging" version she usually offered on radio and records. Notice also, that from this point on in Judy's career, it's the softer more ballad-flavored songs she sings in her movies, like "Over the Rainbow, "In Between" and "I Cried For You that define her onscreen characters, while the more lively "swing" numbers are almost always reserved for performance spots, such as a party, a show with Mickey or an audition for a show. I must say, I'm absolutely amazed at Deanna's ability to sing her classical selections so naturally and artlessly. It seems to me that she stands apart from all the adult operatic vocalists of that era in that her singing has none of the heavily stylized vocalism of the Jeanette MacDonalds, Grace Moores and Lily Ponses. On the other hand, she sings with an innate self-confidence and assurance that stands in sharp contrast to the slightly arch, occasionally sharp and uncertain vibrato-laden vocalism that characterized most of the talented teen sopranos, like Kathryn Grayson, Jane Powell and Gloria Jean, who were snatched up by the studios in their efforts to find "another Deanna Durbin." I know Judy benefitted from Roger Edens' coaching and advice (and the special material he wrote for her to help impose her screen image on the public), but I have a hard time believing that Deanna's naturalistic approach to her operatic assignments were the result of instruction from her coach, Andres de Segurola, an "old style" Italian bass who had sung at the Met with Caruso. I also find it hard to believe that Judy wouldn't have become a top star one way or another. She was so sublimely talented and so clearly loved to perform, she just seemed to be made for showbiz, and according to most accounts, her inability to handle the personal and professional pressures that increased with her stardom aside, she was. I think however, that Judy's career, like those of the other teen sopranos and non-singing kids like Bonita Granville, Jane Withers and Mona Freeman, would not have taken the TRAJECTORY it did without Deanna Durbin. I think Judy was lucky to remain at MGM, because, talented though she was, I don''t think she would have created the instantaneous worldwide sensation Deanna did in films like THREE SMART GIRLS or MAD ABOUT MUSIC, and, as has been noted innumerable times by film scholars and commentators and by Judy herself, Deanna's success inspired Metro to become even more proactive in tapping Judy's seemingly limitless potential than it had been after signing her to a studio contract and renewing her options. For that, like Judy, we can all be grateful.
  14. d120421

    Deanna Durbin 1921 - 2013

    > {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:}{quote}That's sad. > > The disparaging remarks from fans are unfortunate but inevitable. I admit that I've made a running joke out of calling Shirley Temple 'The One Who Shall Not Be Named" or TOWSNBN on my Virginia Weidler site, but it's just that, a joke, and the members get it. > > > I recently found some really cruel, flip comments Judy made about the career or lack of one of Ronald Sinclair, her co-star in THOROUGHBREDS DON'T CRY. I suspect Judy said a lot of hazy, silly things when being interviewed late in life, but I can't account for any animosity she had toward Deanna at the time. > > > I really like Deanna and I prefer to remember the Judy who was helpful to younger talent, like Weidler and O'Brien, while they were all at MGM and to try to understand that this was one really troubled, insecure soul. > Yes, it is kind of sad, Ginny. I too, prefer to think of the kind-hearted and generous Judy, and there are certainly many examples of her kindness and consideration to others throughout her life. As far as her "unibrow" comments about Deanna are concerned, I think Judy just thought they would make a funny story for her to tell during her Jack Paar and other talk show interviews, and, judging by the laughter the stories elicited from Paar and the studio audience, she was right. She was a wonderfully witty lady and a great storyteller. I don't think her comments about Deanna were all that dissimilar to the comments she made about her OZ co-stars trying to crowd her out while the four of them were skipping down the Yellow Brick Road. (She said director Victor Flemming would yell: "You three dirty hams! Let that little girl in there!") or her stories about the munchkins being drunk and wild, etc., etc. She seems to often have exaggerated real-life incidents, or perhaps fabricated them, for dramatic effect. And, to be fair, if you listen closely to Judy's comments after she gets the big laugh for describing Deanna's "one eyebrow" on the Paar broadcast, she quietly says that Deanna went over to Universal and became a beautiful and talented star. On another Paar show, Paar again asks Judy about Deanna and if she's "still around"or something like that, and Judy says: "Well, her eyebrow still is!" Either on the same show or a different one, Paar asks Judy what she used to call Deanna in those days and Judy says: "Hairy!" which elicits a big laugh from everyone. Then, as the laughter dies down, if you listen closely, you can hear Judy say quietly: "Edna" in a tone that suggests: "What do you think I would have called her?" Still, on a now-deleted comment to Jan Hoovers DEANNA DURBIN MUSEUM, someone who claimed to be a fan of both Judy and Deanna said he asked Judy her opinion of Deanna after seeing her in concert and Judy gave the following response: "We used to make fun of her at MGM schoolhouse. Maybe because we were a little jealous. Let's face it, she could sing the high, fancy stuff beautifully and when it came to belting out a song, she was right up there with the rest of us." I admit, I'm definitely uncomfortable with the possibility that Judy may have mocked Deanna's handicapped left arm, as it was a disability and Deanna certainly couldn't help having it, but, as you've pointed out, Judy was a somewhat mixed-up person in her later years and, like her good friend and frequent co-star Mickey Rooney, perhaps wasn't always wedded to the Truth in her recollections of MGM and Hollywood. While I think Judy did admire Deanna and was genuinely grateful for the the boost Deanna's success gave to her own career, I suspect there may have been some lingering jealousy on Judy's part, perhaps over Deanna's instant success or her ability to walk away from the celebrity rat race. In any case, I don't recall reading any disparaging comments from Deanna about Judy. To the contrary, as early as the late 1940s, when Judy's personal problems were just beginning to become public record and she (apparently) was being criticized by the press for her marital problems with Vincente Minnelli, Deanna, who had (I think) recently left Universal, defended Judy, saying: "She's one of the greatest talents in Hollywood. That's why she can't live a normal life." That's too bad that Judy allegedly made cruel comments about Ronald Sinclair's failed career. I just caught a good chunk of THOROUGHBREDS DON'T CRY this morning while getting ready for work, and while I can't say I thought Sinclair was a "great talent," he certainly was a handsome kid and gave an acceptable performance, very much in the "Freddie Bartholemew" mold. (I've read he was a last-minute replacement for Freddie in the film.) I've seen the trailer for THOROUGHBREDS before. In fact, it may even be available for viewing on this site. Interestingly, although Judy is top-billed in the credits, the trailer focuses almost entirely on Sinclair only mentioning Judy in passing as "America's New Sweetheart of Song." Seems like MGM may have had some high hopes for Sinclair at the start of his career.
  15. d120421

    Deanna Durbin 1921 - 2013

    > {quote:title=Sepiatone wrote:}{quote} > Relax, it'll happen, Hibi. > > Anyway...remember that "Durbin vs Garland" thread? About who was the better movie vocalist or something like that? Well, just saw *That's Entertainment* last night, and it showed a clip of the two of them together. They seemed to get along fine. In fact, I'll bet off screen in real life they had an amiable relationship. So all that "rivalry" was OURS, not THEIRS. > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > Sepiatone > > > > > > As a devout fan of both Deanna and Judy, I agree that they probably had an amiable relationship offscreen. Throughout her career, beginning in 1937, Judy always (rightly) credited Deanna's instantaneous and enduring success as filmdom's first "Teen Idol" with generating widespread interest in Hollywood in creating leading film roles for adolescent actresses. Also throughout their respective contemporaneous careers at MGM and Universal, the girls are quoted in various interviews as making admiring and affectionate comments about each other. > The "rivalry," such as it is, perhaps stems from reports of some less-than-admring comments/observations Judy was alleged to have made about Deanna. Well regarded Garland biographers like Gerald Frank and Christopher Finch have reported that Deanna's early success prompted Judy to view her as a "rival" throughout her (Judy's) life. According to Finch, Frank and other Garland scribes, this competetiveness in Judy manifested itself in various ways, from disparaging comments such as her opinion that Deanna was nothing but "a rank amateur" however talented (Finch), attempting to outdo much publicized events in Deanna's career (Frank...I think... alleges that Judy's lavish party to celebrate her engagement to David Rose was specifically designed to put the worldwide reports on Deanna's nuptials to Vaughn Paul "in the shade"), to satiric swipes at Deanna's alleged physical "failings" such as her crooked left arm (Finch notes that in later years Judy would do "a cruel imitation" of Deanna's singing posture, emphasizing the disability) and her pre-glamorized eyebrows (several times on the Jack Paar show and other forums, Judy made comments about Deanna's "unibrow" being "like a catepillar," stretching "all the way across her forehead," etc., etc.) Though I believe that Judy probably meant these comments in a self-depricating manner, some Durbin fans, and some film buffs who claim not to be particular fans of either Durbin or Garland, find them distressing, to say the least, if not unjustifiably insulting and hurtful. These sentiments perhaps are not mollified by the tendency of a small but very vocal cadre of Garland admirers who don't care for Durbin to adopt them when making disparaging comments about Deanna. From the completely disparaging review of Deanna's contribution to the EVERY SUNDAY short on Jim Johnson's JUDY GARLAND DATABASE which includes the pointed aside "and that eyebrow IS scary!" to the amazon.com review of the SWEETHEART PACK collection of Durbin films titled: "THE GIRL WITH THE UNIBROW IN ACHINGLY AWFUL MOVIES," to a now-deleted Youtube posting of EVERY SUNDAY which included comments from a Garland fan who openly referred to Deanna and her career as a "piece of sh**!" and went on to compose wobbly limmericks that never failed to denounce her physical failings and lack of talent/success and made consistent references to the omnipresent "unibrow," to a recent post on a Garland group in which "Judy" urges Margaret O'Brien to use the bat she employs to behead her snowmen in MEET ME IN ST LOUUIS on Deanna, for years the Internet has been rife with openly disparaging, even gleefully baleful Durbin bashing by some Garland fans that far outstrip, both in their scope and their intensity, any negative commentary I've seen from the Durbin camp about Judy. As I said before, I believe these barbs at Deanna represent the opinion of only a minority of Garland fans, but it has been a very vocal minority, and if some Durbin fans take exception to them, I don't entirely blame them, especially as there's no evidence that Deanna ever responded in kind to the satiric swipes Judy occasionally made at her expense.

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