Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tonight's Movie: His Butler's Sister (1943)

Ann Carter (Deanna Durbin) hopes to have a singing career in New York and shows up on the Park Avenue doorstep of her long-lost half brother Martin (Pat O'Brien). When Ann learns that Martin is not a wealthy New Yorker as she had assumed, but the butler to Broadway composer Charles Gerard (Franchot Tone), Ann takes a job working alongside Martin as Gerard's maid. Before long, Gerard is charmed by HIS BUTLER'S SISTER.

The "upstairs, downstairs meets show business" plot is lightweight but fun, and when radiant Deanna smiles or sings, she's as irresistible to viewers as she is to every character in the film. She and Franchot Tone are an appealing romantic couple.

The film's romantic climax, as Deanna sings "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's TURANDOT, is pure movie magic. If you like Deanna Durbin, musicals, classic movies, happy endings, or all of the above, you can't fail to be touched by the power of the music combined with the emotion of the moment. The scene brings a happy tear to the eye.

The deep supporting cast includes Akim Tamiroff, Alan Mowbray, Hans Conreid, Frank Jenks, Evelyn Ankers, and Florence Bates. The movie was shot in black and white and runs 94 minutes.

HIS BUTLER'S SISTER was directed by Frank Borzage, who was the director of a number of films reviewed here in recent months; this post on STRANDED (1935) contains links to reviews of other Borzage films.

HIS BUTLER'S SISTER is available on VHS. It's also available in Europe on Region 2 DVD.

I very much enjoyed this film, as well as FIRST LOVE a few months ago, and am glad I have so many more Deanna Durbin movies to look forward to seeing for the first time.


Blogger Irene said...

I always liked Deanna Durbin. Thought she had the most beautiful voice. I did a search of LA County Library and found there is only one copy of this on VHS in the system and it just so happens to be at my library :). So I will be stopping by there tomorrow to pick it up. Thanks for the review. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't know about most of these great old movies!

1:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

What great luck, Irene! I hope you enjoy it too. I found a Deanna website online today where the reviewer said the end of HIS BUTLER'S SISTER is his or her all-time favorite Durbin scene. :)

Best wishes,

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a huge DD fan and have seen all 21 of her movies.

For more information and photos and video clips from HIS BUTLER'S SISTER, just go to:



5:20 PM  

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