Monday, October 13, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Because of Him (1946)

One good Deanna Durbin movie deserves another, so I followed up last night's film, FOR THE LOVE OF MARY (1947), with Deanna's 1946 romantic comedy BECAUSE OF HIM.

BECAUSE OF HIM finds Our Girl Deanna as Kim Walker, an aspiring actress. Kim is not above unethical conniving in order to secure an interview with a Broadway producer, but because it's Deanna Durbin, we know she's really a nice girl at heart and not an early version of Eve Harrington.

Kim is aiming for the lead in the new play starring great Broadway actor John Sheridan (Charles Laughton), but the playwright, Paul Taylor (Franchot Tone) disapproves of Kim and vows to keep her out of his show. You can probably guess how that ends up...

BECAUSE OF HIM is an enjoyable film, though not on a level with the other Durbin films I've seen thus far. It focuses a bit too much on Laughton's character; his scenery-chewing is amusing, but I would have preferred more of Durbin and Tone instead. Tone, in particular, has a relatively small amount of screen time in the film's first hour. Laughton is deliberately hammy, but he also has some nice serious moments where he allows the real person underneath the legendary actor persona to show through.

Deanna doesn't do a great deal of singing in BECAUSE OF HIM, but she makes the most of each musical opportunity, including the lovingly photographed, emotional "Danny Boy" and a delightful duet with a recording of Rodgers and Hart's "Lover." She has the opportunity to display her considerable comic flair, and for good measure she looks beautiful in gowns by Travis Banton.

This was Durbin and Tone's third and final film together, following NICE GIRL? (1941) and HIS BUTLER'S SISTER (1943); both movies are excellent, but I found HIS BUTLER'S SISTER extra-special, with a lovely, sensitively developed romance.

The supporting cast includes Helen Broderick (TOP HAT, SWING TIME), Donald Meek, and Mary Field. The film was shot in black and white and runs 88 minutes.

BECAUSE OF HIM was directed by Richard Wallace. Several of Wallace's films have been previously reviewed here, including MAN OF THE WORLD (1931), WEDDING PRESENT (1936), THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938), and BRIDE BY MISTAKE (1944). Wallace, one of the founding members of the Directors Guild, was only 57 when he passed away in 1951.

This movie can be seen on VHS.

Update: BECAUSE OF HIM is now available on DVD.

4 Comments:

Blogger Irene said...

Finally, a Deanna Durbin movie that the LA County library actually has a copy of. The last couple that you reviewed, they didn't have them and neither did the Long Beach system.

I wish that whichever studio is responsible for these would come out with a Deanna Durbin DVD set of all her movies. After all she was one of the biggest and most paid stars of her time!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

LOL, I noticed the nearly "All About Eve" plot, too, and , in fact, this film was done years before the Mankiewicz film, so I wonder if "Because of him" didn't plant the seed of an idea somewhere...

I like the film, though I obviously don't mind Laughton (I'm an absolute fan, as evident in my blog, XD) being around in many scenes at all: besides, his performance is both a send-up and an homage to the figure of the actor-producer. Also, Laughton and Deanna were good friends, and it shows!

7:01 AM  
Blogger Grable said...

I love your reviews. You lead me to so many great and possibly forgotten films. If only more old classics were being issued on DVD.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your comments, Gloria! It's fun to know Deanna and Charles Laughton were friends.

Grable, I'm always very happy to know that my posts spark viewing interest in others! There are so many wonderfully entertaining films beyond the better-known "classics" just waiting to be discovered.

Best wishes,
Laura

12:02 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older