Friday, December 04, 2009

Tonight's Movie: It's a Date (1940)

In celebration of Deanna Durbin's birthday, tonight's movie was her 1940 film IT'S A DATE.

Deanna stars in the film as Pam, the daughter of a great stage actress, Georgia Drake (Kay Francis). Pam is an aspiring actress herself and is thrilled when she is unexpectedly cast in the lead of an important new play...until she discovers that her mother expects to play the part. Mother and daughter are also involved with the same man (Walter Pidgeon). Eventually, of course, the play and the man each end up with the right woman.

It's not one of my favorite plots, as far as Deanna's movies go, but the cast is terrific, and there's a nice blend of comedy and music, with a bit of pathos thrown in on the side. The Hawaiian backdrop for much of the movie is pleasing, even if it's on a backlot; the design of the Drakes' vacation home is gorgeous.

One of Deanna's most beautiful solos is "Loch Lomond," which she puts over with such emotion that it convinces a Broadway director and writer (Samuel S. Hinds and S.Z. Sakall) that she can handle the starring role in their play. She also has the opportunity to sing "Ave Maria."

As is typical of Deanna Durbin movies, the film has a sterling supporting cast. Henry Stephenson plays the captain of Pam's Hawaii-bound ship. Eugene Pallette, Fritz Feld, Cecilia Loftus, Charles Lane, and Lewis Howard also appear in the movie.

IT'S A DATE was directed by William A. Seiter. It was shot in black and white and runs 103 minutes.

In 1950 IT'S A DATE was remade as NANCY GOES TO RIO, starring Jane Powell, Ann Sothern, and Barry Sullivan in the roles originally played by Durbin, Francis, and Pidgeon.

IT'S A DATE has been released on video. It has not had a DVD release.

Deanna Durbin's movies are rarely shown on Turner Classic Movies, as they are Universal films which must be specially licensed, but IT'S A DATE is occasionally shown.

July 2016 Update: IT'S A DATE is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive. My review of the DVD may be found here.


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