Deanna Durbin: Box Set 1

  |  427 min
Rated TBC by the BBFC


Box set of five films starring much-loved 1930s musical star Deanna Durbin. In the romantic comedy 'Because of Him', Durbin plays Kim Walker, an aspiring actress determined to ingratiate herself with Broadway producer Sheridan (Charles Laughton). Impressed by the young woman in more ways than one, Sheridan agrees, but the playwright he approaches to write a play for Kim, Paul Taylor (Franchot Tone) is more sceptical. However, Kim's plethora of charms soon wins Taylor over, leaving Sheridan, who had his eye on her from the outset, out in the cold. 'Christmas Holiday', despite its jolly-sounding title, is a dramatic departure from Durbin's usual lightweight musical comedies. The film is a bleak, brooding Hollywood film noir, in which Durbin plays Jackie Lamont, a femme-fatale nightclub singer with a dark secret. An army lieutenant, Charles Mason (Dean Harens), recently jilted by his fiancée, meets her in a New Orleans bordello and the two strike up a conversation. Her story then unfolds in flashback as she recounts it to the lieutenant. As a young woman, Jackie had married a Southern aristocrat, Robert Manette (Gene Kelly), only to discover that he was unstable and violent. After he was arrested for murder, Jackie ran away from her life of misery and changed her identity, believing that her husband was safely behind bars serving life imprisonment. But unbeknownst to her, he has escaped and is intent on tracking her down. 'Mad About Music' is another musical comedy. Durbin stars as Gloria Harkinson, a lonely girl at an expensive Swiss boarding school. Her father is no longer alive, and her mother (Gail Patrick) is a famous Hollywood actress who, eager to maintain her glamorous mystique, has forbidden her daughter to talk about her at all: if anyone knew about her secret teenage daughter her career would be ruined. Gloria begins to invent an imaginary father for herself, making up stories and writing letters to herself from a famous explorer/adventurer. When her classmates start to see through her elaborate charade, and demand to meet Gloria's heroic father, she approaches a visiting Englishman (Herbert Marshall) out of desperation and asks him to pretend to be her daddy. Luckily, he agrees - and is soon regaling all her school friends with the wildest of tall tales. 'One Hundred Men and a Girl' is an exuberant musical comedy in which Durbin plays Patricia Cardwell, a teenaged singing sensation who is determined to do something about the unemployed, destitute status of her father, John (Adolphe Menjou) and the other 99 out-of-work musicians who share their rooming-house. After several entreaties and a few comical misunderstandings, Patricia manages to persuade eminent conductor Leopold Stokowski (who plays himself) to lead the men in a concert - which turns out to be a triumphant success, and leads to the newly-formed orchestra securing a prestigious radio contract. 'Three Smart Girls', Durbin's feature film debut, was a huge box office hit that made Durbin an international star almost overnight. Durbin plays Penny, one of the three vivacious Craig sisters who live with their divorcée mother (Nella Walker) in Switzerland. Their mother is heartbroken when their father (Charles Winninger) announces his plans marry a second time. The three smart girls set off for New York to see what they can do, where they discover that their father's new fiancée Donna Lyons (Binnie Barnes) is nothing but a cold-hearted, gold-digging socialite. Hoping to scupper the wedding plans and reunite their parents, the girls embark on a complicated and wildly imaginative scheme.