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Deanna Durbin


Jenny2
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I think that TCM should make an effort to bring all of Deanna Durbin's films onto DVD. The SweetHeart pack was horrible in my opinion. The black and white color had a washedout look, the caption was hard to read, and I think that the whole package looked cheap. I think that the VHS movies were in better quality. She is such an underrated actress. Her career may have been short, but her voice is beautiful. I think that TCM should brink these movies back for us who have loved watching her.

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I'm not sure how it works, but I'm thinking that TCM might have bought the rights to it if her movies can be shown at TCM. I know that TCM was the one to release most of the MGM movies, so maybe they also have the right to Universal. Just a guess.

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Jenny2, I purchased the Sweetheart Pack of Deanna Durbin films and found the B&W prints to be more than adequate. I felt the color print of CAN'T HELP SINGING was beautiful. So I have to disagree with you. Universal holds the rights to all of Durbin's films with the exception of IT'S A DATE which is owned by Turner/WB due to its remake NANCY GOES TO RIO. In Great Britain they issued a second box set which contains the most wanted CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY. This extreme dark film noir co-starred Gene Kelly and was a complete departure for Durbin. I am hoping Universal will issue a second box set of Durbin's films. TCM would have to license these films to show on their station. If they do I would hope they would license CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY first.

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In that case I certainly hope that TCM release It's a Date on DVD. I would really love to see what extras they would give to it. And wouldn't it be great to put It's a Date and Nancy Goes to Rio on the same DVD so that we may compare or simply just enjoy the two movies and actresses for their musical as well as acting talents.

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I brought the Sweetheart pak of Deanna Durbin and loved them all, although the quality of several of the movies were blurred and needed a good digital clean-up. for the second package, I do hope they include two of my favorite Dubrin movies: "Nice Girl?" and "His Butler's Sister." Nice Girl is a glorious evocation of a time now gone, set in a small California town and World War II. Deanna looks beautiful in her Vera West costumes. "His Butler's Sister" is even better, this time with Deanna dresssed by Adrian, and her songs are beautiful. Universal owns all these movies and we'll probably never see them televised anywhere.

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Has anyone seen Lady on a Train(1945)? It's the only feature length Deanna Durbin film that I've seen. I found it to be highly entertaining with Edward Everett Horton, Ralph Bellamy and Dan Duryea as supporting players in what's been described as a "screwball suspense" film.

 

At one point, Deanna sings "Silent Night" over the phone to her father. Believe it or not, it's a highly sensuous sequence--perhaps unintentionally? Her voice & visage are lovely, as are all the production values of this interesting little movie.

 

Your comments and the fact that Christmas Holiday(1944) is based on a novella by one of my favorite authors, W. Somerset Maugham novel, and was directed by one of the most interesting German emigres of the 40s, Robert Siodmak, really makes me want to catch that one. Oh, and how many Gene Kelly movies can possibly be described as film noirs?

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I haven't seen all her movies, but the first one that I ever saw was THREE SMART GIRLS. I think that's a great one to start with. Deanna is a young girl and her performance is charming. Her voice seems even more impressive coming out of that young girl's body, it's so mature sounding. I liked this one better than 100 MEN AND A GIRL, which is another one of people's favorites from her early period.

 

Sandy K

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Miss Durbin's career was originally built on characters who saved the day (or her parents marriage, career, etc.) Even in her debut short Every Sunday* (co-starring with young Judy Garland), the plot devise had her saving the town's band concerts. So a "typical" Deanna Durbin movie would be Three Smart Girls, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Three Smart Girls Grow Up. But I found her charming in the Cinderella tale First Love and look forward to one day seeing Christmas Holiday.

__________

 

* Available as supplemental material on the For Me And My Gal DVD.

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Both of Deanna's first two films, Three Smart Girls and 100 Men and a Girl received Oscar nominations for "Best Picture," following the success of 100 Men and a Girl Deanna was invited to plant her hand and footprints in the forecourt of Graumann's Chinese Theater, and in 1939 she was awarded a special Oscar for "Bringing to the screen the spirit and personification of youth and as a juvenile player showing a high standard of ability and achievement," surely one of the quickest acknowledgements of superstardom in film history.

 

She also enjoyed a concurrent success on radio. In 1937 the Radio Editors of America voted her "The Most Popular Radio Performer of the Year" for her appearances on the Eddie Cantor radio show Texaco Town, following the expiration of her contract with Cantor's show, Deanna was offered her own radio show but reportedly her parents turned down the offer because of her already over-crowded schedule.

 

For those looking to check out her films for the first time, I would recommend starting with any of her first three "child star" vehicles (the third is Mad About Music), all of which, are delightful and extremely well-made star vehicles, but any of her first ten are well-worth checking out, as, in addition to displaying her considerable talent and charm, they also demonstrate producer Joe Pasternak's flair in easing her gradually into adult roles. Deanna was not only popular culture's first "Teen Idol," but she also was the first child star to make the transition to adult roles without losing her popularity, so this was no mean feat.

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Yes, Deanna Durbin was a singing star; her repetoire often included popular classics. That was the gimmick of her musical short subject Every Sunday with fellow adolescent Judy Garland. Miss Durbin sang "classical" and Miss Garland sang "hot". Durbin was a huge success, and is often credited for "saving" Universal Studios. I've heard that she was the highest paid woman in the U.S. when she was 21. But I don't think it was merely because of her light soprano, but also because she had "spunk". There was nothing "cutesy" about her; her characters cut through the schmaltz and she was pretty charismatic. Here's a picture of her:

 

http://great-song-stylists-uk.com/Deanna%20Durbin/dd19.JPG

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Here is where I disagree w/ you about Deanna Durbin, she was totally cute with brilliant, expressive eyes, a vivacious spirit and a shy yet spontaneous smile. I remember her (Thanks for the pic) because my mother was once a soprano singer and she always spoke of D.D. I might have managed to see one movie w/ her when I was a child and these are the qualities I remember about her, adorable.There was one male singer who starred/sang w/ her more than anyone else, what is his name?

 

By the way ,Happy Father's Day if you happen to be a father.

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Hi Cinemabuff64:

 

I don't think Jack was denying that Deanna was cute, but that was "cutesy," i.e, arch or coy in her manner. On that point, I would agree. (Of course, I also agree with your comments concerning her eyes She was completely natural in front of the camera and had a very witty, intelligent acting style. I actually have an excerpt of a review of a concert she gave at the Mormon Tabernacle in 1938, and her stage manner also seemed to be very natural:

 

"A full hour before starting time, 15,000 persons had jammed the 8,000 capacity building. Thousands more struggled to get in.

 

At eight o'clock it was announced that Deanna would sing 'Ave Maria' by Gounod, then she appears. She wears a simple. becoming white party dress, shoes with rather low heels, and ankle socks.

 

She gracefully climbs the stairs to the upper pulpit then steps up on a small platform beside the console of the great organ. The audience shows their appreciation. She bows slightly, then silence.

 

The organ whispers a short introduction and fifteen thousand hearts stand still. Into that awesome silence flows the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. Yes, she sings with her heart, and her soul as well as her voice; she pours her whole being into the song. When she is finished, the thunder of applause sends more thrills down the spine.

 

Later she sings 'A Heart That's Free' and 'Chapel Bells.' - With each song she cast the same beautiful spell over the audience. It is very difficult to appear attractive while singing, but that rare gift is Miss Durbin's. even when she opened her mouth very wide to hit the high notes perfectly, she looked as pretty as ever."

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I love Deanna. One of my favorite films was It Started With Eve costarring Robert Cummings and Charles Laughton. It was great. Well, anything she did was great because you just sit there waiting to hear that glorious voice!

 

And, I thought she grew up to be a very lovely young woman.

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"I don't think Jack was denying that Deanna was cute, but that was "cutesy," i.e, arch or coy in her manner."

 

Thank you markus; you explained it better than I. Yes cinemabuff, Miss Durbin was physically very cute. By "cutesy" I intended to say that she was not precious nor cloying as many Hollywood youngsters come off on screen. Rather, she came across as sincere, cheeky and had a real spark.

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Does anyone know if TCM is getting any of her films with the agreement to get Universals catalogue? Forgive me if I'm mistaken but I thought they were going to get access to the Univeral films. If this is so will they be airing any of her films any time soon?

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Is Deanna Durbin just like Greta Garbo now? Secretive wanting to be left alone.

 

Does she at least answer fan mail? I hate it when stars turned their backs on their fans just because they retire. Never forget your audience and fans who made you what you are and still discovering and love you. Just because you leave the biz doesn't mean fans leave you.

 

Like Judy Garland said I would love to be like Deanna - be a big star for a while then retire young with plenty of money to live off of and still be remembered. Deanna still got to enjoy her youth outside of Hollywood. I notice also Deanna wasn't the obnoxious, hyper teenage type either and I liked that. She was quite sophisticated and matue for her age. Even more mature then Judy Garland in the teen years.

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Didn't she fall in love and get married! That often makes you forget about everything! But, she could have come back later in life like Alice Faye. Shown up at some film festivals and signed a few autographs.

 

And, how could you put Greta Garbo and Deanna Durbin in the same sentence? (Ha! But, I know what you mean.)

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Deanna has pretty much shunned publicity since she retired, but she hasn't been a recluse, travelling regularly with her third husband, Charles David throughout Europe and South America (and occasionally, the U.S.,) and enjoying their interests in theater, opera, etc. in places like London, Rome, etc. She also remained very friendly with many of her associates from her Universal days, including Henry Koster, Vincent Price, Buddy Pepper, and Helen Parrish, and her best friend, Anne Shirley, etc.

 

As far as her fan mail is concerned, prior to M. David's death in 1999, Deanna was generally acknowledged to be one of the most courteous and reliable of celebrity correspondents. When her husband died, Deanna wrote a letter to her fan magazine, THE DEANNA DURIBN SOCIETY, announcing that, on the advice of family and friends, she was "re-retiring," and would no longer be able to respond to fan mail. Her fan mail was extremely voluminous, and unlike other celebrities, she never has employed a secretary or other staff to held her handle it.

 

I have read comments from some other Durbin fans in recent years that Deanna has begun to answer her fan mail again, though I think her response these days generally consists of a small autographed photo of herself. Of course, it should be kept in mind that, God willing, Deanna will turn 85 this December, and she hasn't been a public figure for almost 60 years.

 

As far as stars owning their life's blood to their fans until their dying day, I respectfully disagree. I think a performer owes the best that's in him/her at the time when a performance is given and, so long as they choose to remain in the spotlight, should be willing to put up with a certain amount of inconvenience and intrusion into his/her private life, but once the celebrity chooses to retire, I think he/she should have the right to do so and their privacy should be respected. Just my opinion, of course,

 

By all accounts I've read, however, Deanna Durbin has been extremely considerate and generous toward her fans.

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And, how could you put Greta Garbo and Deanna Durbin in the same sentence? (Ha! But, I know what you mean.)

 

I know what you mean too, Garbomaniac, and yet references to Garbo often appear in commentary on Deanna, as in her 1980s interview with David Shipman, Richard Lamparski's comments about Deanna in one of his WHATEVER BECAME OF? series of books, and in a (somewhat dismissive) "salute" to Deanna by Eric Myers in OPERA NEWS a few years back.

 

Undoubtedly, as the previous poster and others have suggested, the allusion keeps appearing because both Garbo and Durbin retired not only from filmmaking, but from public life, while still young women, and neither ultimately was successfully tempted to return to the screen or otherwise attempt to re-capture some of the enormous fame they had enjoyed during their respective careers.

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Thank you for explaining why I compared Garbo and Durbin. I wasn't comparing their screen images but how they both left Hollywood and never looked back and I can compare them if I please. I hear how some feel stars are public property but I do agree that they have a life of their own and is entitled to it. I'm glad Deanna is courteous to her fans and see that she still is winning fans. People never forget great talents like Durbin who are timeless.

 

Another Hollywood legend who is alive and like Garbo is beautiful Barbara Kent who is one of the last living silent stars who left movies and fame in the 1930's and haven't given interviews or responded to fan mail for years and years and years. There's another lady to but I can't think of her name who refuses interviews.

 

I can't understand how some refuses interviews and fan mail. Can't some understand that they contributed to American Entertainment that influenced us and that will last longer then them. I would be so grateful and feel appreciated if someone from another younger generation took the time out to write me in my old age to make me feel like I'm important and that I had a purpose. I do understand many aren't trying to mean they just don't want to be bothered and want that Hollywood stuff behind them but as Humphey Bogart said if you want privacy stay the hell out of show business.

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