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April 30, 2013


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Huh. I know Deanna Durbin and what she looks like. So I went to IMDB to see what flicks I'd seen where she'd made an impression on me. But I've never seen one of her films. Odd.

But that Vidal story, true or not, sure is tasty.


RIP indeed - a really fascinating career, and an actress who's been mostly forgotten. Sad to hear of her passing, but 91 is a great run, and one has to wonder if she might have gone down Garland's path (or a similar one) had she stayed in the business. Incredible voice and a singular talent.

Oh, and why the hell isn't Christmas Holiday available on R1 DVD or streaming yet?


I'm a proud owner of the Deanna Durbin Franchise Collection "Sweetheart Pack" that Universal put out on DVD a few years back. Six films, including a couple of her best, but I still have many others to find and watch, including of course the elusive "Christmas Holiday." I hope she was happy out of the spotlight--such a long life suggests she made the right choice, even if it did deprive us of more Durbin films. RIP


Titles for films (or 'Variety' headlines) that don't exist, indeed could never possibly have existed, but which you wish had:

'Deanna Durbin debuts at Delhi Durbar'


Petey, I've also never seen a Deana Durbin movie. When I was growing up, the local TV stations didn't have her films in their libraries. Shirley Temple, yes; Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, yes. But not Durbin. And for some reason, I've never come across her films since then.

Jeanine Basinger's book "The Star Machine" makes a good case for Durbin's importance. She apparently walked out on Hollywood in 1948 and lived the rest of her life in happy obscurity in France.

Now I want to see some of her films, especially "Christmas Holiday."


Garland is remembered, Durbin is forgotten. Why?

1) Judy worked at MGM and starred in some great motion pictures, Wizard of Oz, Meet me in St. Louis, etc. Durbin worked mostly at Universal and got stuck in a lot of mediocre stuff without much support.

2) Durbin was an operetta style soprano -which stopped being popular after WW II.

3) Durbin was the kind of star her PARENTS liked. Judy was the kind of star fellows teenager liked. Guess who got written about nostalgically as the years went by?

Don't get me wrong, I like her. But given her singing style and upbeat personality she was never going to be a star in the 1950s.


To all interested parties: A good print of CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY is streaming in its entirety on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UFSZay18go


Watched CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY last night on YouTube. Excellent movie, and Durbin is very, very good. More noir buffs might know about this movie if only it had a different title -- a movie called CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY, starring Durbin and Gene Kelly, sounds like a musical to most people.

Basinger writes that people in 1944 rejected the movie. They couldn't abide Kelly's creepy character, or Durbin as a singer in a whorehouse. But Durbin reportedly regarded it as her best film.


rocean wrote: "Judy worked at MGM and starred in some great motion pictures, Wizard of Oz, Meet me in St. Louis, etc. Durbin worked mostly at Universal and got stuck in a lot of mediocre stuff without much support."

Basinger and the Siren might give you an argument about that last comment. They regard many of Durbin's wholesome, upbeat musicals as excellent movies. I haven't seen them -- yet -- so I can't comment on them.

I like Basinger's remark -- that people in the '30s and '40s didn't think life was a Deanna Durbin movie. They just wanted to pretend it was, for about an hour and a half.

BTW, Garland appeared in her share of mediocrities: "Presenting Lily Mars," "Little Nellie Kelly," "Listen Darling," to name three. She had the luck to appear in two or three undisputed classics that have kept her name alive.


As I said above, I've seen little more than half a dozen Deanna Durbin films, but found them all enjoyable to one degree or another. I guess I'd single out IT STARTED WITH EVE and FIRST LOVE from the "Sweetheart Pack" as good places to start.

george: Your point about Garland is well taken, but I have to say, I really enjoyed LISTEN, DARLING, a scrappy little comedy that admittedly soars mostly on the strength of its appealing cast (including Mary Astor, Freddie Bartholomew, Walter Pidgeon and Alan Hale). The director, Edwin L. Marin, strikes me underrated, too.


Watched HERS TO HOLD (1943) on YouTube. Well made wartime musical-comedy -- but Joseph Cotten looks so much older than Durbin, it sometimes seemed like a more upbeat version of "Shadow of a Doubt" (made the same year, also at Universal, and also with Cotten). And Durbin does look a bit like Teresa Wright.

Durbin was playing (for the third time) her character from THREE SMART GIRLS, and it's assumed that everyone in America knows who she is. Only Cotten hasn't heard of her. Presumably most of the audience, at that time, would be familiar with the character.


jbryant: Agree with you on Marin. He directed my favorite version of "A Christmas Carol" (in 1938), a good John Wayne western (1944's "Tall in the Saddle") and the ridiculous but entertaining "Invisible Agent" (1942).


george: I'm meaning to check out TALL IN THE SADDLE for a while now, but haven't yet, and I haven't seen Marin's A CHRISTMAS CAROL in ages. But I agree on INVISIBLE AGENT. I've also seen his decent Randolph Scott Western, COLT .45 and good George Raft noir, NOCTURNE. The material isn't always there, but Marin elevates it. Thanks for the heads up on HERS TO HOLD.


"Invisible Agent" plays more like a superhero movie than a horror film -- which disappointed me the first time I saw it, because I was expecting horror. But I'm fond of it now. The emphasis is so much on fast-moving action, I'm surprised Universal didn't expand it into a serial.


Glenn, hope you'll be posting an appreciation of Ray Harryhausen, who has died at 93.


george: As you may know, Universal's INVISIBLE MAN box set is a real treat. To my mind, the only dud is INVISIBLE MAN'S REVENGE, the last in the loosely-defined series. It, too, stars Jon Hall, but as a completely different character from his role in INVISIBLE AGENT.

And, yes, RIP Ray Harryhausen.

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