Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Repost: Tonight's Movie: Something in the Wind (1947)

NOTE: I sometimes repost older reviews of favorite films when I revisit them, in hopes of introducing them to newer readers. I'm sure Deanna Durbin has had more reviews reposted here than any other performer!

I first reviewed SOMETHING IN THE WIND (1947) in December 2011. When rewatching it tonight I was fascinated to realize that it was written by William Bowers and Harry Kurnitz, who contributed to so many great film noir titles, such as THE WEB (1947), released the very same year as SOMETHING IN THE WIND. I just saw THE WEB at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival and reviewed it here last weekend. Bowers in particular is known for his great way with sarcastic dialogue, and I feel sure that some of the funniest, snarkiest lines in the movie -- such as in a great fashion show sequence -- must have come from his typewriter.

It was especially interesting revisiting this film having seen John Dall in ROPE (1948), GUN CRAZY (1950), and THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF (1951) in the intervening years; again, I just saw THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival a few days ago! The timing to rewatch SOMETHING IN THE WIND couldn't have been more perfect.

I think I enjoyed this film even more the second time around. Below is my review as it appeared in 2011, augmented with an additional image of Deanna singing the memorable "Turntable Song" as the movie opens.

Today is the 90th birthday of one of cinema's great treasures, and one of my very favorite actresses and singers, the incomparable Deanna Durbin.

Since I'm down to just a handful of Durbin titles remaining to see for the very first time, I've been spacing out watching them, savoring them bit by bit. Deanna's birthday was the perfect occasion to see one of the last movies on my list, SOMETHING IN THE WIND.

Deanna plays Mary Collins, a disc jockey who becomes mixed up with a wealthy family of snobs. Donald (John Dall) has discovered a recently deceased relative was making payments to a Mary Collins, and mistakenly thinks it's the Mary played by Deanna, drawing all the wrong conclusions. In reality, the Mary was Deanna's Aunt Mary, played by Jean Adair, but it's complicated so we'll leave it at that!

Will Mary find a sponsor for her radio show? Will Donald dump his proper fiancee Clarissa (Helena Carter) when he finds out Mary's really a nice girl? Will Donald's lovelorn cousin Charlie (Donald O'Connor) win Clarissa?

The answers probably aren't in doubt, but what fun getting there! I may be unusual in that I prefer Durbin's '40s films to those she made as a child. She's sassy, confident, and a whole lot of fun to watch.

The film has a strong score by Johnny Green and Leo Robin, starting off in fine fashion with the opening number, the perky "Turntable Song," sung by Mary as she wraps up the latest episode of her radio show.

"You Wanna Keep Your Baby Looking Right" is slyly sung by Deanna to make Donald uncomfortable, and the lovely "Something in the Wind" provides an emotional turning point an hour into the film, as Donald and Mary realize their feelings for one another.

Deanna also duets "Miserere" from IL TROVATORE with Jan Peerce of the Metropolitan Opera, playing a singing policeman.

This was John Dall's second film, following THE CORN IS GREEN (1945). His best-known movies are probably Hitchcock's ROPE (1948) and Joseph H. Lewis's GUN CRAZY (1950). I felt he was rather wooden for much of the film, although a certain amount of that works with his initially stodgy, patrician character. He did warm up in the last third of the film and effectively convey his character's transformation. I thought he was pretty phony in his drinking scene with Donald O'Connor, but the audience probably wasn't supposed to take it all that seriously anyway!

The lively O'Connor adds some energy to the film, singing "I Love a Mystery" and a version of "Something in the Wind," backed by the four Williams Brothers, including Andy.

The film's supporting cast includes Charles Winninger and Margaret Wycherly. William Ching, seen a couple days ago as Marge Champion's beau in GIVE A GIRL A BREAK (1953), plays the master of ceremonies at a fashion show.

The director was Irving Pichel. The black and white cinematography was by Milton R. Krasner. The costumes were designed by Orry-Kelly. The film's running time was 89 minutes.

SOMETHING IN THE WIND is available on DVD in the six-film Deanna Durbin Sweetheart Pack, which contains some of her very best films. As I write, it's currently selling at Amazon for a price which is more than a bargain.

It's also been released on a Region 2 DVD and on VHS; the videotape includes two trailers. (Update: SOMETHING IN THE WIND is now available on DVD in the Universal Vault Series.)

Please visit the birthday tribute I posted one year ago today.

2021 Update: SOMETHING IN THE WIND will be released on Blu-ray by Universal in September.

I have just four Durbin films left to see for the first time! Links for all Deanna Durbin films previously reviewed here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: 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), THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939), IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941), CAN'T HELP SINGING (1944), HERS TO HOLD (1943), IT'S A DATE (1940), LADY ON A TRAIN (1945), THAT CERTAIN AGE (1938), and ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (1937).


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

What I enjoyed about Something in the Wind was seeing Margaret Wycherly dressed to the nines, and the cameo Irving Pichel gave himself as the garage mechanic.

When I think of William Bowers I think of westerns like The Gunfighter, and that sensibility he brought to the greatest of all western spoofs, Support Your Local Sheriff! He certainly was an excellent writer.

5:38 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

There's a lot of great stuff in this film, isn't there? It's almost hard to believe it's Margaret Wycherly, I'm so used to seeing her in sort of "old hag" mode LOL.

Bowers really was great. I had the pleasure of sitting with his wife at a screening once and she joked "He didn't know he was writing 'film noir'!" SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! is an all-time favorite film.

Best wishes,

4:14 PM  
Blogger Astrid Movies Lover said...

Hi! I’ve not watched these movies as I did not even know about them. I’m only acquainted to new films. Thank you for sharing such nice posts and for refreshing the memory of some.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you will enjoying trying Deanna Durbin movies, Astrid! Thank you for taking the time to share such nice feedback.

Best wishes,

6:57 PM  

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