Nothing says Christmas to me more this year than the Deanna Durbin Christmas Noir movie Lady on a Train, directed in 1945 by French Director Charles David, Durbin’s future husband: December 21, 1950. The original story Lady on a Train was by Leslie Charteris author of ‘The Saint’ series of books. Lady on a Train is a fun Christmas movie mystery interspersed with Noir tendencies, no opera in this film. Durbin’s rendition of Silent Night is spot on. David Bruce and Durbin’s chemistry is great especially the Gimme a Little Kiss song sequence. Thanks TCM for adding this Durbin movie to your TCM schedule this Christmas Season.
Speaking of Deanna Durbin…although it seems most noir gurus gravitate toward ‘The Killers’ (1946) as an essential Robert Siodmak noir film. I can’t help mentioning Christmas Holiday (1944)
Deanna Durbin’s dramatic film debut. Eddie Muller’s article from week two of Summer of Darkness described film director Siodmak’s style in Noir as using ‘Complexly layered flashbacks, bold compositions, dramatic lighting, supple camera moves and flamboyant wardrobe’. Director Robert Siodmak from Universal Studio took W. Somerset Maugham’s story and incorporated all of what we now know as his signature noir moves.
No light comedy or operetta’s in this movie for Durbin, no singing or dancing in the rain for Gene Kelly in this truly dark noir by Robert Siodmak.
LIFE LESSON: When it comes to family, do whatever it takes.
Three Smart Girls: Modeling the importance of family bonds, this favorite follows three sisters as they try to get their divorced parents back together. While not all marriages are worth saving, the lesson here is about a family that helps each other. Its perfect for showing sisterly relationships and how sometimes the kids really do know best. Also that every family member has a role and something to offer the task at hand.
An excellent introduction to child star Deanna Durbin showing all kids the power of following their dreams, this is simply one great movie:)
The most anticipated film of the year was based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gone With the Wind a book about a sixteen year old southern Belle’s loves and losses during the civil war and reconstruction.
Twenty-six year old Vivien Leigh would play two sixteen year old characters in her film career, Scarlett in 1939 and Cleopatra in the 1946 British film Caesar and Cleopatra.
Another film anticipation took place that year for tweenagers all over the world. The release of the modern day at the time re-make of Cinderella titled First Love starring seventeen year old Deanna Durbin. Hearts were atwitter…Deanna would be receiving her first on screen kiss. Pasternak and Koster chose well for the knight in shining armor, the twenty year old Robert Stack. Stack was dashing; tall and good looking First Love was a perfect retelling of the classic love story. The Academy nominated First Love for Music Scoring, Art Direction and was on a list of eleven black and white movies that voters narrowed down to two movies to choose from for Best Cinematography, Stagecoach and Wuthering Heights, Wuthering Heights received the Oscar. Deanna Durbin was a Universal girl; she shared the 1938 Special Award with Mickey Rooney (an MGM boy) for their significant contribution to the screen the spirit and personification of youth and as juvenile players setting a high standard of ability and achievement. In 1939 the Special Award miniature statuette went to Judy Garland for her outstanding performance as a screen juvenile during the past year.
I told Rochellelynn I would post about TCM’s September theme –The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film featured on Tuesdays of this month. I looked at the themes TCM was highlighting for the month and couldn’t make up my mind which to write about. I would pick one film subject which would lead me to another which led me to another which made me decide I would make up my own themes: Directors, Writers, Actors or favorite movies I like best pertaining to the Jewish Experience on Film and in real life.
One of my favorite movies based on a book in the Old Testament is The Story of Ruth, I rescreened it for the umpteenth time for this post and paid attention to something I guess I never paid attention to…The Director was Henry Koster, who knew?
When I think of Henry Koster I think of Deanna Durbin’s earlier movies, I think of the other light hearted or subtle message classic Hollywood movies he has directed. Two Sisters from Boston, The Inspector General, Harvey, D-Day the Sixth of June, Flower Drum Song, Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation to name a few.Henry was nominated as Best Director in 1947 for The Bishop’s Wife but lost out to the Turkish born Elias Kazancioglu (Elia Kazan) for the eye opening Gentlemen’s Agreement.
Henry Koster was born Hermann Kosterlitz May 1, 1905 in Berlin, Germany. He experienced firsthand the anti-Semitism that ran rampant in the 1930’s in his birth country. He had to leave Germany after being insulted by a Nazi officer and clocking him on the jaw knocking him out cold. Henry immediately fled to France, then Budapest where he met Producer Joseph Pasternak, finally entering the United States through Mexico.
On his application for citizenship to the United States it lists his Race as Hebrew, his nationality German. I like to think of him as: Henry Koster, Director, American.
TCM’s September Star of the Month Melvyn Douglas spent 63 years as an actor. From the eligible bachelor in his early films to notable character parts in his later years, you’re probably wondering why you don’t know him as well as Cary Grant. Perhaps most known for Ninotchka, he was the guy pursuing the very cold Greta Garbo, and made us believe she could finally be won over. Where do we like Melvyn Douglas best?
As the house guest and friend who won’t leave in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House.
As the incorrigible playboy, opposite Irene Dunne in Theodora Goes Wild
Opposite Fred MacMurray fighting over Jean Arthur in Too Many Husbands
and of course as die hard Deanna Durbin fans
we love Melvyn as the crush catching Deanna’s eye in That Certain Age
See him Wednesdays this month on TCM
Herbert Marshall, WWI Veteran lost a leg during the Great War for King and country then came home to hold his own, playing leading man opposite some of Classic Hollywood’s greatest actresses. He duked it out with Barbara Stanwyck in Breakfast for Two (1937). Appeared as Deanna Durbin’s pretend father in the multi-nominated (4) film Mad About Music (1938). Almost survived that conniving Bette Davis, (if only she had given him his pills…)in the nine category nominated film The Little Foxes (1941) and in the 1950’s and 1960’s shared the screen with some of the top box office draws of their time Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh in The Black Shield of Falworth in 1954 and Doris Day in Midnight Lace(1960). Great job Herbert and many thanks for your military service and sacrifice!
Deanna Durbin and her mother Ada 1940.