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As far as I know, TCM owns only two films in which Deanna Durbin appears -- the 1936 short EVERY SUNDAY and the 1940 MGM feature IT'S A DATE. The bulk of her films are owned by Universal, so TCM has to lease them.


But the Universal door is slowly creaking open. TCM has shown LADY ON A TRAIN earlier this year, and they will be showing 100 MEN AND A GIRL in March.

So keep watching and requesting -- you never know what might turn up!

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Dan, sorry to intrude here :), but "It's a Date" is a Universal Picture. I do know that MGM remade the film in 1949 as "Nancy Goes to Rio" with Jane Powell and Ann Sothern, so maybe then MGM acquired the rights to both the story and the 1940 Universal Feature.


I think that something similar happened when Warners bought from RKO the rights to film "The Animal Kingdom" and "Of Human Bondage".

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You don't have to be sorry, feaito -- I can be magnanimous. ;)


You're right, of course. I knew that IT'S A DATE was in the TCM library and was remade by MGM as NANCY GOES TO RIO, so I thought it was an MGM picture. Shows what can happen when you rely totally on memory, which can be a tricky thing sometimes!


You're also right about the Warners' remakes of THE ANIMAL KINGDOM and OF HUMAN BONDAGE as well. (The remake of the former was ONE MORE TOMORROW.) Studios always bought up the originals in those days so they couldn't compete with the remakes. But in today's DVD market, that's seen as an advantage, because a studio can make money off both! That's one reason why a lot of pictures these days are remakes -- that double profit potential in the home video market.


Somehow the RKO originals of those pictures ended up in the public domain, and I'm not sure how. I do know that the Warner remakes were not successful, so maybe because of that, they neglected to renew the copyrights.


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You know Dan, I have never seen "It's a Date", only "Nancy Goes to Rio"...and now I realize something else, I'm almost 100% sure that Joe Pasternak, who guided Deanna Durbin's career at Universal and produced many of her films, also produced "Nancy goes to Rio" at MGM. When he left Universal for MGM he formed his own unit there producing musicals for Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza, Jane Powell, Ann Blyth, among others. So maybe it was his idea to buy the rights to "It's a Date".


And concerning "The Animal Kingdom" and "Of Human Bondage", I read that piece of info in Daniel Bubbeos' book "The Women of Warner Brothers", where he stated that Warners got the rights to both stories from RKO in exchange for the services of Joan Leslie in "The Sky's the Limit" and John Garfield in "The Fallen Sparrow".


I also remember that Warners bought the rights to film the remake of Paramount's "One Sunday Afternoon" with Gary Cooper and Fay Wray, which I've read is excellent, as "The Strawberry Blonde" with Olivia de Havilland, Jimmy Cagney and Rita Hayworth, which was remade again by Warners in 1948, under its original title, with Dennis Morgan and Janis Paige.

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It was Joe Pasternak's idea to purchase the rights to IT'S A DATE and remake the film as NANCY GOES TO RIO as a vehicle for Jane Powell. This is why MGM owns the rights to IT'S A DATE, even though the film was produced by Universal.


Pasternak also quasi-remade Durbin's first film, THREE SMART GIRLS at MGM in 1949 as THREE DARING DAUGHTERS starring Powell, Jeanette MacDonald and Jose Iturbi, and, of course, plot elements and musical elements from the Durbin ouvre were re-used in many of Pasternak's MGM vehicles for Powell, Grayson, Garland, et. al..


TCM has shown both IT'S A DATE and LADY ON A TRAIN on Deanna's birthday in the past, but, for whatever reason, decided not to do so this time around.


I believe 100 MEN AND A GIRL is also scheduled to be shown on February 20th at 8:00. It's a terrific movie and well worth checking out if you're a classical music fan or want to see what all the fuss over Durbin is about. As David Shipman said of Deanna and the film:


"Of the many films in which Deanna Durbin appeared, the one most fondly rmembered is 100 MEN AND A GIRL. That a fifteen year-old child should have had such a clarity in singing and first-rate musicianship is remarkable, but combined with a similar instinct for acting is nothing short of miraculous."


Hopefully the showing of 100 MEN will be the beginning of TCM's acquiring more of Deanna's films. I agree that they're wonderful and deserve to be better known.

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Here are some contemporary notices from THE NEW YORK TIMES which indicate some of the impact Durbin's tremendous and instantaneous success had on MGM's pursuit and promotion of adolescent vocalists. As noted in the last one, Pasternak was signed by Metro specifically in hopes that he would be able to duplicate the success he had with Deanna with Kathryn Grayson and other Metro songbirds.:


February 22, 1937: "Metro Will Sign Betty Jaynes, 15 Year-old

Opera Singer": Betty Jaynes, 15-year-old opera singer

discovered by the Chicago Grand Opera Company, has been

engaged by MGM, giving that studio someone to compete with

Universal's Deanna Durbin. Miss Jaynes will be allowed several

months of freedom each year for concert and opera work.";


March 2, 1937: "Metro is thinking seriously about offering Judy

Garland as a threat to Universal's Deanna Durbin, and after the

youngster's appearance with Charles Gorin, ne Igor Gorin, in

"Broadway Melody," the studio will present them as a team in an

untitled comedy which Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allen Woolf

are writing."; (This was apparently EVERYBODY SING, for which,

as Judy fans know, Gorin was replaced by Allan Jones);


June 20, 1941: "Pasternak Will Join Metro Production Staff": "Joe

Pasternak, producer of the Deanna Durbin pictures at Universal,

today joined the production staff at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He will

report to the studio on Sept 1 after he completes Miss Durbin's

"Almost an Angel" ("It Started With Eve"). While Metro withheld

details of the contract, it is understood to be for five years,

starting at $3,500. Although other studios were negotiating with

Pasternak, it was learned that Louis B. Mayer insisted on the

acquisition, making several unusual concessions in the

agreement which Pasternak requested.


"It is expected at Metro that Kathryn Grayson will be assigned to

the Pasternak unit. Miss Grayson, the studio feels, is capable of

developing along the lines that brought Miss Durbin to

prominence. She has been seen in but one picture, "Andy

Hardy's Private Secretary," in wihch she sang four songs.

Although she has been tentatively assigned to two films, she will

be withdrawn from them and not cast in anything until

Pasternak's arrival on the lot."

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This is all very interesting! Thanks for the background info and news blurbs. :) Deanna really does deserve more credit and to be remembered more today.


I really hope TCM runs "It's A Date" again, as it's one of the few Deanna movies I don't own on VHS. In fact, if *I* were the TCM programmer, I'd run "It's A Date" and "Nancy Goes To Rio" back to back! Hell, make it Joe Pasternak Day and give us all those rare Deanna Durbin, Jane Powell and Kathryn Grayson movies! ;)

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And did you know Betty Jaynes eventually married Douglas McPhail who starred with Betty in Babes in Arms and was also in Sweethearts together..........they played the stand-ins for Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy.


Just a little trivia to make your day.


BTW McPhail committed suicide just a few years later, he was very depressed over his career.




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You're welcome. Here's another blurb the TIMES published on Deanna and Judy in December 1936. Note that the paper and Universal have elevated Deanna to top stardom even though THREE SMART GIRLS would not go into general release until January 1937, lending credence to Deanna's status as popular culture's first "Teen Idol":


From "A Corner of Hollywood Talent" By Douglas W. Churchill December 13, 1936:


"The success of two new youngsters in recent films promises to lift

the ban from half-grown girls, and possibly start a cycle of pictures

involving singing ingenues. Girls in their early and mid teens have

never interested producers, but since Judy Garland attracted attention

in PIGSKIN PARADE, and the industry became aware of Deanna Durbin in

Universal's THREE SMART GIRLS, scouting activity has been noted.


Young Miss Durbin's success has been the more pronounced. Charles R.

Rogers, Universal's head, regards her as one of the important

discoveries of several seasons and is making elaborate plans for her

future. There is talk of reviving "The Phantom of the Opera" in which

she will be starred and Hans Kraly has been commissioned to write an

untitled original for her.


Following Hollywood custom, most of those connected with a successful

film are being advanced to high places. With "Three Smart Girls" Miss

Durbin has been skyrocketed to stardom, and Adele Commandini who wrote

the original, Joseph Pasternak, who produced it, and Henry Koster who

directed the picture are accorded the title of geniuses of the month....


Miss Durbin, Miss Commandini's script, Pasternak and Koster were

thrown together to make a B picture. Pasternak saw the possibilities

in the yarn and while he was pleading for an enlarged budget, Joseph

I. Breen of the Hays office, to whom the scenario had been sent for

approval, called Rogers and complimented him on it. As a result,

without fanfare or announcement, the picture was put on the A list,

money was spent on it and now everyone connected with the project is

in great demand."


Here's a few more bits of "Deanna Trivia":


When she made her debut on Eddie Cantor's TEXACO TOWN radio show on September 26, 1936, Deanna created an immediate sensation. When Cantor "inadvertently" failed to introduce her by her full name, CBS was bombarded with 5,000 letters from captivated listeners demanding to know more about her. In July 1937, Deanna was awarded RADIO GUIDE's "Favorite Newcomer of the Year Award" with an astonishing 5,000,000 votes. Following the expiration of her contract with Cantor, CBS reportedly offered Deanna her own radio show, but she turned it down reportedly due to her already wildly overcrowded professional schedule;


Following the release of THREE SMART GIRLS, which received an Oscar-nomination for Best Picture, Deanna was awarded the Screen Actor's Guild Award for Best Actress for her performance. Deanna's second film, 100 MEN AND A GIRL, also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and, among many other accolades, Deanna was a nominee from the New York Drama Critics Circle for Best Actress for her perfomance. She also was one of the nominees for TIME Magazine's "Person of the Year";


According to published reports (e.g., FORTUNE MAGAZINE) Deanna's films accounted for 17 percent of Universal's entire revenue during the late 1930s;


Deanna was Prime Minister Winston Churchill's favorite movie star. He reportedly insisted on being permitted to screen her films privately before they went into release in Britain, and, according to novelist Eric Ambler, would run ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL to celebrate British victories during the War;


Deanna was Britain's top female box office draw from 1939 through 1942. She was so popular that in 1942, the Odeon Theatre Circuit arranged a week long "Deanna Durbin Film Festival" during which her films were shown exclusively on the circuit throughout Britain for a week, a feat which has never been duplicated for any other star;


Deanna was also a favorite of Russian dictator Josef Stalin, who reportedly a special translator to translate the dialogue of her films into Russian while he watched them. She had been a top box office star in Russia from the first appearance of her films there in the early 1940s and has remained so to this day. Reportedly, Deanna is the only non-Russian performer to have been adopted as "Russian" by the Russian government and during the 1950s and 1960s, the KGB reportedly cited her as the "vocal ideal" for young girls interested in studying singing. Following glasnot under Gorbachev in the 1980s, the Russian government, which had invited dignitaries from all over the world to celebrate the event, had the KGB Social Club run "a program of films dedicated to Deanna Durbin" for a week.;


In 1941, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini, published an open fan letter to Deanna in his personal newspaper, IL POPOLO, urging her to intercede with President Roosevelt on behalf of American Youth to dissuade him from being America into the "European Conflict," which, of course, became World War II after America entered the fray in December 1941.


When Deanna's film IT STARTED WITH EVE was released in Paris in late 1944 following the liberation of that city, jubilant patrons became so numerous and excited that riot police had to be called in to control the crowds;


Although often wrongly cited as a box office flop, Deanna's 1944 film, CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, was, in fact, the highest grossing film in Universal's history up to that point;


Following the defeat of the Japanese in 1945, Deanna's 1943 film, HIS BUTLER'S SISTER, was the first American film chosen by General Douglas MacArthur, head of the Allied Occupation Forces, to be screened in Japan. The film (with its' title changed to PRELUDE TO SPRING) created a box office sensation (prior to America's declaration of War on Japan in 1941, Deanna's films had been wildly popular there). The impact of the War had led many Japanese to question and abandon centuries old strictures of propriety, including the ban on kissing in public, and many Japanese reportedly used Deanna's films as a "guide" for learning how to do so appropriately.


I agree it would be nice if TCM would dedicate a day, days, month to Pasternak's Soprano film stars, but I don't know how many of Deanna's films they own for such a project. Hopefully, their showing of ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL will lead to more of her films being shown by the network. She's definitely worth checking out!

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Nice to be here Stan and thanks for the very warm welcome!


Yes, I like DD's movies very much but I always wish she made more films and had a career similiar to Miss Garland's.........they both broke into movies together with a 15 minute short subject.



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> Nice to be here Stan and thanks for the very warm

> welcome!


> Yes, I like DD's movies very much but I always wish

> she made more films and had a career similiar to Miss

> Garland's.........they both broke into movies

> together with a 15 minute short subject.


> Dave


I think Deanna Durbin was an absolutely brilliant performer. The more I've seen of her work, the more impressed I am with her. She was such a natural and charming actress and a truly wonderful singer! She also had a really remarkable screen presence. It seems like professional suicide, but when you see her in the opening scene of her first film, it's easy to see why bankrupt Universal gambled pretty much everything it had to turn THREE SMART GIRLS into a star vehicle for Deanna, and boy did it pay off!


I too wish Deanna had made more movies, but considering the difficult times Judy and some other child stars of that generation experienced, I don't blame her for getting out when she did. Seems like she was a pretty "Smart Girl" in real life, too!


PS Did you know that by the time MGM produced EVERY SUNDAY ( for those who may not know, this was the short featuring Deanna and Judy Garland) Deanna had already been signed by Unviersal? She was signed by Universal in June 1936 and recalled to MGM to make the short in July. EVERY SUNDAY is often cited as a sort of public "screen test" to help MGM decide which girl to keep, but given that Deanna was already under contract to a rival studio when the short was produced, I suspect that EVERY SUNDAY was always concieved as more of a showcase for Judy Garland than Deanna, which is how it comes across in several scenes.

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markus21 - Thanks for the extra trivia! It's truly fascinating.


I'd just like to say "ditto!" to cclowell38's entire post... are you a mind-reader? :) That's exactly how I feel about Deanna as an actress... so charming, and so underrated. Believe it or not, I was thinking along similar lines the other day, that she was very Smart to get out of the movie business while still young, and live a private life away from the whole Hollywood scene. Although we fans want more of her on film, she did what was best for herself, and well, that's why she's still alive today, I reckon. I love Judy Garland too... and it's too bad Deanna isn't as remembered by the masses as Judy is. But if you have to live your life in the public eye, and die tragically, in order to achieve that level of fame... well, I'd choose to live long and happily and be "forgotten" by the world, personally.


Still... I wish the world could be reminded of her fine work (TCM could do it's part with a film festival ;)) ...maybe she doesn't care, but it would be nice to pay tribute to her while she's still with us. I'd like her to know how much happiness she's given us through her films.

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Deanna had what they used to refer to as a "withered" left arm. Whether this was a consequence of a birth defect, or of a break she suffered as a young child that never healed properly is unclear, but she learned how to conceal it pretty well overall, and it certainly didn't detract from her appeal.


An interesting trivia note: In his biography of Judy Garland, RAINBOW: THE STORMY LIFE OF JUDY GARLAND, author Christopher Finch says that in later year, Judy used to do a "cruel" imitation of Deanna's singing posture, emphasizing her crooked left arm. I don't know whether this is true or not, and I've read some very flattering comments by Judy on Deanna, but it does suggest that Judy was a pretty complex personality.

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You're welcome, Crispycomment:


Here's a 1939 rebuke from the NEW YORK TIMES to Universal for advertising Deanna's fifth film, THREE SMART GIRLS GTOW UP, as the occasion of her "first glamorous role." The vehement tone of the editorial and the fervor with which it's expressed, lend credence to producer Joe Pasternak's comment, "She is one of those personalities the world will insist on regarding as its' personal property.":




With Special Reference to the Appeal of Deanna Durbin


By Frank S. Nugent


Spring seems to be a little late this year, so until it arrives we'll

have to get along with Deanna Durbin, the closest thing to this side

of the equinox. A couple of books could be written on Miss Durbin's

singular appeal, but none of them would contain the horrible epithet

Universal's advertising staff fastened on the miss last week.

"Glamorous" was the word they dared employ and we haven't said a civil

word to Universal since. It doesn't matter how the dictionary defines

it--some literal poppycock about "a charm or enchantment working on

the vision and causing things to seem different from what they are."

We know what Hollywood means by glamour and we won't have our

Deanna playing in the same category as Hedy, Marlene, Greta, Joan,

Carole, Loretta, Merle and Tyronne.


Glamour indeed! As if it had not been her very freedom from glamour,

Hollywood style, that has endeared her to her millions. Glamour! as if

that were a quality more precious than the freshness, the gay

vitality, the artful artlessness and youthful radiance she has brought

to the screen! Glamour! as if that were what we wanted of the perfect

kid sister (not that there really ever was one). Glamour forsooth!

and was it glamour that made Judge Hardy and his brood, or glamour we

found in the late Marie Dressler and Will Rogers, or glamour in Mr.

Deeds or Zola or Pasteur, or glamour for that matter (though we hate

to mention it) which keeps little Mistress Temple as the nation's four

time box office champion? What is this thing, glamour, anyway, that

it has grown so great?


Deanna, to put an end to the libel, is not the least bit glamorous in

her latest delight "Three Smart Girls Grow Up," and she has not grown

up so much herself. She leaves that, and the romantic troubles, to

the older sisters, contenting herself with being the matrimonial

broker of the family. Usually we dread these Little-Miss-Fixit roles.

The brats are all so superior about it all and so right--like George

Arlis as Disraeli or somebody. But Deanna manages to make even a

half-grown meddler attractive. She is guility of the most awful

blunders; she quite forgets her manners; she sulks and has tantrums

when her plans go agley; and eventually she has to call on father.

And that, of course, is the way it should be, and would be unless the

Miss Fix It had been Shirley Temple. No, Deanna is all right, up to

par or better, and when Universal next says 'G.....r' it had better smile.

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You're welcome, Alan:


I agree, it's to Deanna's credit that the crooked arm wasn't very noticable. Usually, the only times I'm aware of it is when she's performing a musical number like "Happy Go Lucky and Free" in SOMETHING IN THE WIND where she's swaying in time to the music and has both of her arms raised and out in front of her.


But since I was aware that her left arm was slightly bent before I saw one of her movies (other than EVERY SUNDAY where it really isn't an issue), I can't really say I "noticed" it on my own. lol!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi asakely:


I've never read that Deanna had erbs palsey, but it's possible she did. Most biographical information I've seen on her states that her slightly crooked left arm was a consequence of a break she suffered as a toddler/infant that didn't heal properly. Some have said it was a birth defect, but don't go into detail on the type of birth defect.

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