After enjoying GREEN FOR DANGER, we watched another terrific film this evening, IT STARTED WITH EVE. Two of the silver screen's most magnetic performers, Deanna Durbin and Charles Laughton, square off against each other with wonderful results.
Jonathan Reynolds (Laughton) is dying and wants to meet his son's new fiancee before he passes on. The son, Johnny (Robert Cummings), can't immediately locate his fiancee Gloria (Margaret Tallichet -- Mrs. William Wyler), so he asks a hat check girl, Anne (Deanna Durbin), to step in and pretend to be his fiancee for an hour, since it's an emergency and there is no time to lose; Johnny wants his father to die happy.
Jonathan Sr. loves the pretend "Gloria" (Durbin) and amazingly begins to rebound the next day. Now young Johnny is really in a bind, with his angry real fiancee stuck in her hotel room and a pretend fiancee visiting his father each day. Of course, the real Gloria is a money-hungry gold digger with a witchy mother (Catherine Doucet), and the pretend Gloria sings like an angel and...well, she's Deanna Durbin, so it's no contest!
The film is an interesting blend of moments which are sincerely touching and laugh-out-loud funny. Cummings and Durbin chasing each other around on the furniture in one scene had us chuckling, and so did the sight of Laughton doing the conga. Laughton's hijinks trying to circumvent his doctor's orders against cigars are also quite amusing. But along with the humor, Laughton and Durbin each also had us tearing up at certain moments.
The music is lovely and struck a particular chord with me because Deanna's first number is set to the Tschaikovsky Waltz later known as "Once Upon a Dream" in my favorite Disney film, SLEEPING BEAUTY. It was a wonderful surprise hearing her sing lyrics set to that piece of music.
Deanna Durbin movies always feature fine supporting casts, and this one is no exception. It includes Walter Catlett as Laughton's exasperated doctor, marvelous Charles Coleman in his patented butler role, and Guy Kibbee as a bishop. There are many other familiar faces in the cast including Gus Schilling, Irving Bacon, Mary Gordon, Clara Blandick, Dorothea Kent, and Sig Arno.
IT STARTED WITH EVE was directed by Henry Koster. It was shot in black and white and runs 93 minutes.
This movie is available in a fine print on VHS. It has also been released on DVD in a set with five other Durbin films.
Previous reviews of Deanna Durbin movies: FIRST LOVE (1939), HIS BUTLER'S SISTER (1943), NICE GIRL? (1941), FOR THE LOVE OF MARY (1948), BECAUSE OF HIM (1946), MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938), THE AMAZING MRS. HOLLIDAY (1943), THREE SMART GIRLS (1936), and THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939).