Monday, August 23, 2010

Deanna Durbin Films
on DVD
for the
First Time

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) have made five films featuring Universal singing sensation Deanna Durbin available on home video for the first time. The titles include Mad About the Music (1938), That Certain Age (1938), Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939), Because of Him (1946) and For the Love of Mary (1948). The films are part of the TCM Vault Collection Presented by Universal, an extensive partnership to offer classic movie fans rare vintage films, all digitally remastered.

The five-disc Deanna Durbin: The Music and Romance Collection is currently available by request on DVD exclusively via TCM host Robert Osborne introduces the titles, which include extensive supplemental materials compiled by TCM and material from the TCM archives. Among the highlights are an exclusive interview with John Pasternak, brother of producer Joe Pasternak, the man who discovered Deanna Durbin and made her a star, as well as original movie posters, lobby cards, color publicity stills, behind-the-scenes photos and more.

"This collection is a one-of-a-kind treasure because Deanna Durbin was such a unique, delightful screen presence,” said Osborne. “Until now, so many of her movies have been unavailable on home video, making these DVDs like finding gold. Not only do they showcase Deanna’s wonderful singing and charm, they also give viewers the chance to enjoy the long-unseen work of such co-stars as OscarÒ winners Charles Laughton, Melvyn Douglas and others.”

Deanna Durbin, who was born Edna Mae Durbin in Winnipeg, Canada, was a shy teenager when she was initially pursued by MGM as a new singing star. The studio decided to offer a then unknown Judy Garland a contract instead. Universal, realizing Durbin’s wholesome appeal and pleasing vocal style, signed her up. Even though Durbin’s desire to be an actress stemmed from wanting to supplement her struggling parents’ income, she became a phenomenally popular star. Her string of box office hits helped save Universal from bankruptcy during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

The following are the five Deanna Durbin films being made available. They can be purchased as a box set or as individual titles:

Mad About the Music (1938) – To fit in with her classmates, a lonely 14-year-old American girl in a boarding school in Switzerland invents a fictitious father, leading to comical complications. Nominated for four Academy AwardsÒ, including Best Cinematography and Best Music Scoring, and co-starring Herbert Marshall, Deanna Durbin’s third feature film features such songs as “A Serenade To The Stars,” “Chapel Bells” and her rendition of “Ave Maria.”

That Certain Age (1938) – When young Alice develops a serious crush on her father’s dashing reporter friend, she loses interest in her teen-age boyfriend and their plans to put on a fundraising variety show. Melvyn Douglas and Jackie Cooper co-star in this charming farce, which earned two OscarÒ nominations, including one for the song, “My Own.” Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were among the screenplay’s contributing writers.

Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) – Penny, who has a knack for matchmaking, realizes her own two sisters, Joan and Kay, could use her unsolicited help, especially because one of them is in love with the other’s boyfriend. Often noted for giving Deanna Durbin her first mature role, this breezy, lighthearted valentine to Durbin is directed by Henry Koster (The Bishop’s Wife) and co-stars Robert Cummings and William Lundigan.

Because of Him (1946) – A young waitress with dreams of stardom tries to pass herself off as an experienced actress and even succeeds in winning the coveted role opposite a famous theater star. Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone are among the distinguished supporting cast. The score includes “Good Bye,” “Danny Boy,” and the Rodgers & Hart tune “Lover.”

For the Love of Mary (1948)

Mary, a White House telephone operator, is so popular with co-workers that the President of the United States and four Supreme Court justices end up trying to play Cupid for her. This screwball comedy marked Deanna Durbin’s final screen appearance. The cinematography is by four-time Academy Award nominee William H. Daniels (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Musical selections include “Moonlight Bay” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”

Previous Universal titles released under the TCM Vault Collection Presented by Universal banner include a collection of early Cary Grant films; the unsung holiday classic Remember the Night (1940), starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck; and the Universal Cult Horror Collection.