My Deanna Durbin Punishment, Part III: It Started With Eve (1941) – Approach With Caution

After having watched Three Smart Girls (1936) and First Love (1939), I was hoping this film would get the right mix of Deanna’s acting with singing that was integrated into the storyline. It has a fair amount of her comedic acting and the singing is integrated into the movie. The problem is that film is extremely formulaic. You only feel an attachment to Deanna because she is that charming as an actress. It didn’t hurt that I came into this film having seen two prior films.

Not Dead Yet!

It begins with a local paper hoping that Jonathan Reynolds (Charles Laughton) will die in time for the story to go out in the next edition. Then we go into the home and bedside of the dying Reynolds where he makes a final request of his son. He wants to see his son’s fiancee before he dies. Unfortunately, the son can’t get in touch with her. Since this is a movie, that means that any girl will do because Reynolds is going to die anyways. In this case, it means that a singing girl who works at a hotel will stand in for the fiancee.

Deanna, Will You Be My Fiancee For The Night?

It also means that the plan works. Reynolds meets Deanna and is happy to see his son with such a sweet and beautiful woman. Of course, it also means that he doesn’t die immediately and starts to get well. Yep, this is a mistaken identity romantic comedy. It follows the predictable path of the father attaching himself to Deanna and eventually convincing the son that he has picked a winner. The funniest bit of the movie is the train porter.

The Porter

Deanna tries to leave town several times only to be stopped by Reynold’s son just as the train begins to move. Instead of the porter being a yessir and trying to be as helpful as possible, he greets them with a, “I can toss you your luggage but don’t expect me to step off the train once it’s moving,” look. It’s funny because he doesn’t take any crap and leaves Deanna and the son running to catch luggage as he chucks it at them.

Aside from that funny moment, it’s all paint by numbers filmmaking. Nothing particularly bad but not really worth your time. Approach it with caution.

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5 thoughts on “My Deanna Durbin Punishment, Part III: It Started With Eve (1941) – Approach With Caution

    • And I hope based on my review, that you won’t seek it out either. Only three more to go, then my punishment will be over. That is unless I don’t make comments about the new potential CMBA members, in which case Rick might sentence me to watch Judy Garland movies.

  1. Hi Valerie:

    I enjoyed your review. Sorry you didn’t like the film, but we can agree to disagree on this one…

    Personally, I like EVE a lot. Thought it was a delightul romantic comedy that even included some gentle satirizing of the same year’s CITIZEN KANE in its’ opening scenes. The chemistry between Durbin and Laughton is palpable, the combative romantic struggle between Durbin and Cummings fast ‘n funny. (What other romantic comedy heroine bites a guy on the ear for forcing himself on her?), and the script fast-moving and entertaining…and not ever as lachrymose as the contemporaneous vehicles MGM was making with its’ talented stable of teen stars.

    Bonuses were seeing Clara Blandick (“Auntie Em” herself) playing yet another old crab (always preferred the Witch of the West to Em in OZ), the funny conga dance between Deanna and Charles Laughton and Durbin’s singing, of course.

    Special kudos to Ms. D. for getting through the lightning fast “Clavelitos” number (157 words a minute…in Spanish yet!) while accompanying herself on the piano.

    (And yes, I do like the porter’s parting shot to poor Deanna as Cummings yanks her off the train yet again: “Lady, the next time you aren’t goin anyplace, why don’t you try a plane?!” so at least we can agree on that.)

  2. Pingback: Classic Chops: January 25th | | Beth Stollman BlogBeth Stollman Blog

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