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The Wonderful Deanna Durbin

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feaito

Postby feaito » January 18th, 2008, 1:15 pm

I discovered the lovely and talented Deanna Durbin when I bought the Sweetheart Pack DVD Franchise Collection released by Universal (I'm still waiting for another Pack!).

I was absolutely amazed by Durbin's charm, talent and beauty. It's a crime her films haven't been more widely known.

Like Moira, my absolute favorite of the lot is undoubtedly "It Started With Eve" (1941). A wonderful film from start to finish. A true delight. The entertaining "First Love" (1939) and the rather unique "Lady on a Train" (1945) follow closely. "Can't Help Singing" (1944) is the only film shot in handsome Technicolor and is quite amusing too.

I later bought a Chilean-Brazilian DVD edition of "It's a Date" (1940), in which Kay Francis plays her mother. A good film that was remade with Ann Sothern and Jane Powell as "Nancy Goes To Rio" in 1949. The original is better :wink:

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » January 18th, 2008, 2:32 pm

Moira, I'm sure I saw some of Durbin's earlier films on TV in NYC when I was young, but I can't say what entity or entities might have aired them. As you well know, there were so many more channels back then that showed old films as time fillers, long before someone invented infomercials and reality shows.

In any event, I know that my dislike of most things Durbin originated in the distant past, and isn't just a recent thing.

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Postby moira finnie » January 18th, 2008, 2:48 pm

Thanks Fernando and Judith.
I have no memory of seeing Deanna Durbin's films in those earlier decades and wondered if there was some legal snafu that caused her movies to be absent from public view.

I also appreciate the warnings about Jeanine Basinger's new book on the star system. Your accounts sound as though it is of dubious quality, which was also the impression I had from the numerous negative reviews of the book that I've come across since its publication. The only other things I've come across of hers have been dvd commentaries, which were okay.
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moira finnie
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Postby moira finnie » January 20th, 2008, 4:09 pm

Hi Fernando and anyone else who likes Durbin:
I found these two clips from a Frank Borzage directed film of Deanna Durbin's called His Butler's Sister (1943)--what a lame title!--which I thought were pretty neat. Too bad this one has yet to migrate to dvd.

Russian Gypsy Songs
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_0MRbhk7Qk[/youtube]

Nessun Dorma (sung in English, unfortunately--though that doesn't affect the beauty of Puccini's music)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzrceRfdu4I[/youtube]

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Moraldo Rubini
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Postby Moraldo Rubini » January 20th, 2008, 7:02 pm

JohnM wrote:That's exactly the type of voice I do like. Dubin was a coloratura, the only soprano voice I can stand. It's the full-out operatic soprano that I detest. Opera voices are my least favorite, male or female. Mostly they are all bombast, covered, with horrendous diction, because the note's the thing. And while I can take a "fake opera singer", I can't stomach an opera singer trying to do Broadway or Jazz (Kiri Te Kanawa anyone? Oy!). The results are universally lousy and embarrassing. In the case of Durbin, she could hit the notes and enunciate at the same time, so she scores points for that.

John, John, John. Deanna Durbin was a lyric soprano, not a coloratura. A coloratura's forte is ornament -- embellished runs, portamento, trills, etc. -- it has nothing to do with tessitura (vocal range). A filmic example would be Márta Eggerth in For Me and My Gal. In opera, the bel canto operas made the coloratura the star. Coloratura can be mezzo-, soubrette, lyric sopranos, etc. There many, types or fachs of operatic voices. No good opera singer has poor diction (okay well, Joan Sutherland and bad diction, but she's an exception); diction is an important aspect of operatic singing and poor diction is a complaint of opera afficiandos. Rather than detesting "full out operatic sopranos", it sounds like what you despise is the dramatic soprano. Those whose specialty is Wagner and [Richard] Strauss, perhaps.

There are many bad examples of opera singers singing vernacular repertoire. Kiri Te Kanawa is one of them. But there were/are many who can winningly cross-over: Eileen Farrell, Dorothy Kirsten, among others in the past; Audra MacDonald, Teresa Stratas, more recently. Check out Eileen Farrell's jazz albums. They are not lousy nor embarrassing. Conversely, there are the "popular" singers who attempt the concert hall works to ill end. Anyone hear Classical Barbra?

Bunching all of opera and opera singers into one category is misleading. There's 500 years of operatic music. A truly wide variety ranging from early chamber operas to jazz, rock, hip-hop, minimalist and -- yes -- Sondheim. To hate all of it is pretty expansive.

There. My feathers are smooth again.

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Postby Jezebel38 » January 20th, 2008, 7:21 pm

JohnM wrote: All I ask is that a musical contain songs with a melody line! .


These are all wonderful songs from musicals with memorable melodic lines:

Comedy Tonight
Broadway Baby
Losing My Mind
Not a Single Day
Loving You
Sooner or Later
Agony
Children Will Listen
Johanna
Weekend in the Country
Send in the Clowns

All written by Stephen Sondheim

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Postby Moraldo Rubini » January 20th, 2008, 7:59 pm

Jezebel38 wrote:These are all wonderful songs from musicals with memorable melodic lines:
Comedy Tonight
Broadway Baby
Losing My Mind
Not a Single Day
Loving You
Sooner or Later
Agony
Children Will Listen
Johanna
Weekend in the Country
Send in the Clowns
All written by Stephen Sondheim

There are many, but I just have to add (with apologies to Deanna Durbin):
Not While I'm Around
Pretty Lady

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Postby Ollie » January 27th, 2008, 8:44 am

I enjoy LADY ON A TRAIN so much, despite the oft-mentioned oddly nuanced SILENT NIGHT.

Its closing scene gets my vote for Most Sexual of all, topping my previous candidate, Grace Kelly insisting that Cary Grant hold her diamond necklace, him saying they're fake and she replying, "...but I'm not." Hitchcock's fireworks are cute and over-the-top - no one who's watching needs Hitchcock's edits at that point.

Deanna's closing scene shows a fade-out using those eyes is all that's needed.

Plus the great twists to this movie make it a favorite.

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Postby Dewey1960 » January 27th, 2008, 8:57 am

Here's a terrific trailer for Deanna's picture, IT'S A DATE...
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8KkYtW9gH8[/youtube]
And the short EVERY SUNDAY she did in 1936 with Judy Garland...
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbyPCZhzaE8[/youtube]

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Postby moira finnie » February 10th, 2008, 3:17 pm

I came across the entire film of the Robert Siodmak movie adaptation of Christmas Holiday (1944) which stars Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly in essentially non-musical roles on YouTube. Despite the film noir elements of the story, music permeates the film, including a beautiful rendition of Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year and Always as well as Wagner's Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde. If you like Durbin and Kelly, you may enjoy this.

The credits are cut off, but the print is excellent and the soundtrack is clear, if you don't mind watching your movies in 10 minute snippets. If you'd like to view it you can do so here

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Postby moira finnie » November 30th, 2008, 1:34 pm

I thought that those who enjoy Deanna Durbin, the work of director Frank Borzage or even Franchot Tone or Pat O'Brien, might like to know that the complete movie of His Butler's Sister (1943) (which I don't believe is available on Region 1 dvd), has been posted on youtube, and starts here.

It's been about a year since I've seen this girl on film, but Durbin still strikes me as one of more joyous performers on film in the '40s. Musically, the movie features a "Russian Medley" that I found enjoyable (and an intriguing sign of our wartime solidarity with the USSR) and "Nessun Dorma", (the latter is a mixed success to my uneducated ear), but I hope you enjoy it.

Russian Medley
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_0MRbhk7Qk[/youtube]

Nessun Dorma (in English, unfortunately)
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inV3RlOTOXM[/youtube]
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Postby moviemagz » December 10th, 2008, 11:43 pm

sandykaypax wrote: Most of her films didn't make it onto VHS, either.


Actually, Universal released quite a number of Deanna's films on VHS in the 1990's, including some rather obscure ones even for her movies, which as many have noted have not aired very frequently on television. Keep in mind though this is the "beloved" Universal which has had many a gem from Paramount locked up in their archives for decades and barely allowing them to see the light of day.

I used to own three or four Deanna VHS films but sold three of them on ebay because I knew I probably wouldn't watch them again and they weren't on DVD (the only way you can sell VHS these days). The only one I kept was CAN'T HELP SINGING because it's on the DVD set and I knew I probably wouldn't get two dollars for it. I always hated the fact that Deanna's only color film was the one they dyed her hair blonde, I would have loved to have seen her in Technicolor as the ravishing brunette beauty she was.

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Postby moviemagz » December 11th, 2008, 12:04 am

My curiosity got the best of me and I checked out what was released on VHS on Amazon, wow, I am impressed, 18 of her 21 films. I've listed them in order of their lowest prices at the moment (almost certainly used copies and probably "ex-rentals" for most) (Those marked * are in the Durbin DVD set).

*First Love 2.40
*Lady on a Train 2.50
*It Started with Eve 2.89
*Can't Help Singin' 3.15
100 Men and a Girl 5.50
That Certain Age 6.37
*Something in the Wind 6.39
Three Smart Girls Grow Up 7.48
Up in Central Park 7.50
His Brother's Sister 9.95
Mad About Music 10.50
Nice Girl 10.89
*Three Smart Girls 11.84
Because of Him 11.89
It's a Date 12.25
For the Love of Mary 19.95
The Amazing Mrs. Halliday 22.43
I'll Be Yours 29.00

Ok trivia question, can anyone guess the three Universal Deanna features not released on video (and of course, I'm not counting the MGM short with Judy.)


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