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This movie was nominated for best picture in an era when they used to have ten nominees. I can see why it was nominated. Generally, in the days of ten nominees there was always a spot for a smartly written family picture and this is the exact definition I am talking about. Deanna Durbin is the best child actress Hollywood has ever produced, period and she brings the charms to this movie that already had her getting above the title billing while such established names and stars like Adolphe Menjou are relegated to below the title. This is her movie from start to finish. The plot line of this movie is not original if you are familiar with the Pasternak musicals. He always opted for classical music over current pop and standard pop songs of their time were always done opera style to suit the sopranos he liked to cast in his movies. Durbin, a not very pretty teen who makes up for it with an avalanche of charisma sings the song. It's the depression. 100 musicians are out of work and need a job. Therft leads to reward which leads to deceit which leads to the fate of circumstances which leads to harmony in this hopeful picture. And a scene in the conductor's house when the 100 men come to play is one of the better constructed and filmed shots in cinema history. Old pro henry Koster nails every shot and makes you want to throw away all those auteur theory books. And the final scenes leave you warm as apple pie inside and happy and cheerful. If this is not what cinema is meant to do, then what else is it for! A classic!
This delightful family picture reflects how the public taste changes
over the years. Movies, in general, were kinder to serious music then,
something that no studio would even consider in tackling these days.
This was a vehicle for Deanna Durbin, who reigned supreme at Universal
and who had movies tailor made for her to showcase her talents.
Ms. Durbin was a cute young girl in those years. She was wonderful in the way she projected charm without being obnoxious, or bratty. Her singing voice was amazing and it was always prominently heard in all the movies she made.
The story is something typical of those years. Director Harry Koster was able to present the material in a good fashion. The film follows Ms. Durbin in her quest to help her impoverished father and his musician friends. With the help of the rich Frosts, she is able to bring together the talented unemployed music men into forming an orchestra and convincing the great Leopold Stokowski to make music with them.
The film will not disappoint Ms. Durbin's fans. Adolph Menjou plays her father. The wonderful Alice Brady and Eugene Palette are seen as the generous Frosts, and Mischa Auer plays the family friend Michael.
I caught this movie on TCM and WOW, what a voice. Deanna was just incredible at only 16. Plus she had such personality, and who doesn't like Adolphe Menjou and Eugene Palette. This could have been just another depression era "rags to riches story" or a "let's put on a show" movie, But it had a real story, formula, yes, but a step above. I love classical music and I never realized there was a popular musical like this using only classical music. Boy how times have changed...hehe. I just can't get over Deanna's voice. And yet you just never here about her like Judy Garland. Well Judy is great but Deanna Durbin was just as great in my opinion. Too bad she didn't make more movies or record more records. I could listen to that voice all day. The director, Henry Koster, did a masterful job. The scene of the orchestra playing in the conductors house, is shot in a style way ahead of it's time and not a low budget 30's movie style. Koster went on to direct some very good movies. You can see why in this movie. This movie would be great for film students to study... a 1930's formula film, that rises above formula to Art.
I didn't expect much from this movie, as I'd never heard of it before though I'd seen other Deanna Durbin movies. I was surprised to find that it was really charming. Durbin is at her most effervescent but somehow manages to avoid being "cutesy." In fact, the setbacks her character ("Patsy") encounters as she tries to get the orchestra going are sometimes genuinely moving. The movie juxtaposes scenes of the super-wealthy and the down-on-their-luck in this post-Depression movie to very good effect. Much of the comedy came from wonderful character acting by the always-excellent Eugene Palette, among others. All in all, a buoyant,fast-moving vehicle with the bonus of a few lovely orchestral numbers conducted by Stokowski. Definitely worth seeing for fans of Durbin and classic black-and-white films of the 30's.
How many have heard of Shirley Temple? How many have heard of Judy
Garland? Now, how many have heard of Deanna Durbin? You may be
surprised to learn that Deanna Durbin at the time this film was
released was more popular than either Temple or Garland, made more
money than either, saved her studio from going broke, and had as much
merchandise marketed in her name as either. Then why is she all but
forgotten today? Because she simply announced that enough is enough and
walked away from the so-called glamorous life of a Hollywood star to
live in France as a nobody. But we can be thankful that before she made
such a fateful decision, she starred in a few classic movies that
showcased her magnificent voice.
"One Hundred Men and a Girl" is a wonderful family-type film to share with others. Made during the Great Depression, it gave the audience an optimistic view that those out of work would find jobs, or as the New Deal spin-doctors put it, "Prosperity is just around the corner." Patsy (Deanna Durbin) attempts to put her unemployed father John Cardwell, played to perfection by the marvelous actor Adolphe Menjou, back to work as a trombone player. She tries to convince classical director Leopold Stokowski to put her father in his orchestra but to no avail. While returning a pocketbook her father found to a wealthy society matron (Alice Brady), she misunderstands a joke as a serious proposal to offer a radio contract to her father if he can get an orchestra together composed of his out of work musician friends. The rich lady's husband John Frost is brought into the deal when his wife suddenly leaves for an extended vacation in Europe. The rest of the film revolves around Patsy getting it all together by persistence and unknowingly giving the story to the media. For viewers, it's fun all the way.
There is also an assortment of gifted character actors to add mirth and merriment to the proceedings, to name a few: Eugene Palette, Mischa Auer, and one of the funniest men in the movies Billy Gilbert. Of particular note is a hilarious performance given by Frank Jenks as a singing cab driver with a penchant for opera who appreciates Deanna's talent.
A bonus is all the fantastic classical music played by Stokowski and his orchestra. Stokowski was everyone's ideal of what a conductor should look like and sound like. Disney recognized this and put him in "Fantasia." Stokowski was largely responsible for bringing classical music from its long hair ivory tower status to make it accessible to the average American. All this plus the enchanted singing of Deanna Durbin. Who could ask for anything more?
A postscript: Keep your eye on the feather in Deanna's hat.
Enjoyed viewing this great film classic from 1937 and enjoying a long forgotten actress, Deanna Durbin,(Patsy Cardwell),"For the Love of Mary". Patsy plays a very talented young girl who has a fantastic voice and a father who is an unemployed musician played by Adolphe Menjou,(John Cardwell),"Bundle of Joy". John Cardwell goes behind the scenes where Leopold Stokowsk has just conducted a Symphony Orchestra and asks him for a job as a trumpet player or even a trombone or whatever. There is some drama and great classical music selections along with plenty of comedy by great talents like Billy Gilbert and Eugene Palette (John R. Frost)," The Mark of Zorro". Leopold Stokowsk was a famous conductor during this period of time and married a few women and had children, one of the marriages was to Gloria Vanderbilt. If you like an old time Classic, this is a good film to view and enjoy the great singing of Deanna Durbin. Enjoy
A 16-year-old singer/actress plays a girl who travels around a city seeking a mysterious white-haired man of power who can make all her dreams come true where have we seen that since? Though it's a naturalistic (if not realistic) film instead of a fantasy, "One Hundred Men and a Girl" seems to me strikingly close to "The Wizard of Oz" (the legendary 1939 MGM version) not only in its plot structure but its overall approach. I can't help thinking that Judy Garland screened it and based her performance in "Oz" largely on Deanna Durbin's acting here, just as I suspect Victor Fleming studied Henry Koster's direction of this film to figure out ways to make "Oz" believable on screen. Aside from the "Wizard of Oz" parallels, "One Hundred Men and a Girl" is a first-rate film, a masterpiece within the limits of its genre, with a class consciousness we're more likely to see from Warners than Universal one of its most moving aspects is the way the jokes and polite tossed-off remarks of the rich characters become heartbreaking when the poor characters take them all too seriously. Incidentally, apropos of some of the "trivia" entries on this film, the orchestra actually heard in the film was the Philadelphia Orchestra, recorded in the Philadelphia Academy of Music on a multi-channel sound system, the first time one was used in a film (contemporary reports differ on whether 12, 14 or 28 microphones were used); by then Leopold Stokowski was no longer the Philadelphia's main conductor but he was still the orchestra's principal guest conductor and he used them in other movie projects, including "Fantasia" (1940).
I haven't seen this in about 17 years to be honest, but my memories of it
are quite clear-take a great singing actress-Durbin, throw in a fine
supporting cast of Mejou, Auer, Stowkowski, Pallette, and a 'we made a band
and saved the day' type of plot, and you get a very fine movie.
I remember it as being well produced, joyfull to watch, Durbin's voice was terrific and her presence onscreen like no one else's. It's weird that you don't hear about her much nowadays-she was that good.
So-fond memories will have to do here---
I give it ***1/2 outta ****. If you like Capra, you will prob. like this one.
ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (Universal, 1937), directed by Henry Koster,
features teenage soprano Deanna Durbin in her second motion picture
lead, following her enormous success in THREE SMART GIRLS (1936). With
Universal best known for his horror thrillers ("Dracula" and
"Frankenstein") or best selling based love stories ("Back Street" and
"Imitation of Life"), the Durbin products brought forth a new cycle of
screen entertainment, venturing into the world of classical music with
the celebrated musical conductor, Leopold Stokowski, appearing as
himself. Durbin, who shared screen time with other Universal starlets,
Nan Grey and Barbara Read, in THREE SMART GIRLS, becomes the sole focus
here, sharing screen time with one hundred men, being her father and
his group of unemployed musicians.
Set in New York City, John Caldwell (Adolphe Menjou), is seen as an unemployed musician who makes a desperate attempt confronting conductor Leopold Stokowski at Carnegie Hall for a job, but is consistently chased about by stage doorman, Marshall (J. Scott Smart), with pleas ignored by Stokowski's manager, Mr. Russell (Jameson Thomas). After being shown out the door, Caldwell acquires a lost purse on the crowded street with cash inside. Unable to locate its owner, he returns home where he uses the found money to pay off his back room rent, giving his teenage daughter, Patricia (Deanna Durbin) a indication that he's now working under Stokowski with advance in salary. In due time, however, Patricia, learning the truth, locates the identification inside the purse and does the right thing by returning it to Mrs. Frost (Alice Brady) at her luxurious home. Telling her and society guests about her father's orchestra, Mrs. Frost agrees to have her husband, John R. Frost (Eugene Palette), sponsor them on his radio program. As Caldwell organizes his orchestra in the garage, Patricia comes to the Frost home to follow up on her promise only to find that the absent-minded Mrs. Frost has gone to Europe. After locating Mr. Frost's whereabouts, she asks him for financial support, but dismisses the girl and her story as one of many practical jokes by his friend, Tommy Bitters'(Jed Prouty). With unexpected results, news reaches the media of Stokowski conducting for Caldwell's unemployed musicians, causing complications for all concerned, considering Stokowski is going on a six month concert tour in Europe.
A delightful Depression era/ fairy tale type story helped by the presence of Deanna Durbin's self confidence and energetic personality. It's hard to believe how virtually new she is to the movie business and natural she is as a performer. It's not so easy to forget Durbin's blink of her eyes that bring a happy smile to her sad-faced father (Menjou). Aside from its original screenplay by Bruce Manning, Charles Kenyon and James Mallhauser, the film is highlighted by a mix of contemporary and classic music, including "Symphony # 5, 4th Movement" by Peter Ilyich Tchiakowsky (conducted by Leopold Stokowski); "It's Raining Sunbeams" by Frederick Hollander and Sam Coslow (sung by Deanna Durbin); "The Rakoczy March" by Bezloiz; "A Heart That's Free" by Alfred G. Robyn and Thoms T. Railey; "Prelude to Act II" from Richard Wagner's "Loitengrin"); Mozart's "Allelua in 'F' Major" "Second Hungarian Rhapsody" by Franz Liszt; and "Libiamo Ne Liete Lauci" from Guiseppi Verdi's "La Traviata" (sung by Durbin). With these classical pieces, good production values and high notes, 100 MEN AND A GIRL gives the distinction of looking more like an MGM product than Universal's.
The supporting cast includes such Hollywood reliables as Mischa Auer (Michael Borodoff, a musician and close friend of the Caldwells); Billy Gilbert (The Garage Owner); Frank Jenks (The Taxi Driver); Edwin Maxwell (Ira Westling); with John Hamilton, Jack Mulhall and Charles Coleman in smaller roles. The performance given by Leopold Stokowski may provoke laughter to contemporary viewers for his wavy combed back hairstyle and mechanical way of conducting his orchestra with the use of his hands instead of a baton.
ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL earned an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture of 1937. After frequent public television revivals that took place in the 1980s, this now Durbin classic got further recognition on home video around 1994. In 1996, it had occasional revivals on American Movie Classics, and later on Turner Classic Movies where it premiered February 20, 2006. If movie does not prove satisfactory with its story, then it should for classical music lovers. (****)
I can't say I'm a fan of Deanna Durbin, but I thought she was very charming and exuberant in "100 Men and a Girl", one of Deanna's biggest vehicles at the time. Deanna plays the daughter of an impoverished musician (Adolphe Menjou, who previously worked with another famous child star Shirley Temple in "Little Miss Marker"). Most of the plot revolves around how Deanna manages to hook up 100 unemployed musicians with a famous orchestra conductor. It may have dated by today's standards but it is worth catching for the music and Deanna's singing talents.
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