Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tonight's Movie: First Love (1939)

"Enchanting" is the perfect description for FIRST LOVE, an inventive retelling of the Cinderella story starring Deanna Durbin.

Durbin plays Connie, an orphan who graduates from boarding school and goes to live with her rich uncle's family in New York. Most of Connie's relatives ignore her, and her cousin Barbara (Helen Parrish) is positively mean. The servants, however, quickly take Connie under their wing and plot for her to attend a grand ball, where she dances with her Prince Charming (Robert Stack, in his first movie).

Durbin is delightful as spunky Connie. She's surrounded by a wonderful cast, including Eugene Pallete as her long-suffering uncle and Leatrice Joy as her astrology-addled aunt, plus Thurston Hall, Kathleen Howard, Samuel S. Hinds, Mary Treen, and Charles Coleman. Marcia Mae Jones, who recently passed away, is seen in the opening scenes as Connie's friend Marcia.

The movie runs 84 minutes and was filmed in black and white. It was directed by Henry Koster. Just a couple years later Koster would marry Peggy Moran, who plays one of Deanna's schoolmates in the movie. They were happily married for nearly 46 years, until Henry's death in 1988.

Deanna Durbin is now in her 80s. She has lived a quiet retirement in France for many decades.

FIRST LOVE has been released on both DVD and video. (Update: FIRST LOVE is now available on DVD in the Universal Vault Series.)

FIRST LOVE is a treat from start to finish, a wonderful mixture of musical, fantasy, screwball comedy, and romance. Highly recommended.


Blogger jau said...

Odd that Stack went from nothing to a starring role, first time out! I tried researching it and it seems he really did. But no one ever did that.

Anyway, you're right - this is charming. Stack's mannerisms aren't too strong yet.

Are you a Kay Francis fan, too? "The Keyhole" the other night was delightful.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I've seen Stack commenting in a couple of BIOGRAPHY episodes, and it seems like he was "in" with Hollywood socially before he was actually in the movies himself, i.e., Carole Lombard was a family friend in the mid-'30s. Not sure how that came about.

I enjoy Francis -- haven't seen THE KEYHOLE, thanks for the tip!

Best wishes,

11:54 AM  
Blogger The Ramblin' Rat said...

Sounds wonderful! I'm adding it to my queue.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I suspect I'll be watching another Durbin film in the near future. :)

Best wishes,

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have seen all 21 Deanna Durbin movies and have written a synopsis of each one at my website:



8:40 AM  

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