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Claude Jarman Jr.
In the British version of this film, Deanna Durbin's finale was the patriotic favorite, "There'll Always Be an England" (music by Ross Parker and Harry Parr Davies, lyrics by Hugh Charles). Miss Durbin's "Thank You America" (music and lyrics by Walter Jurmann and Bernie Grossman), a song which didn't become popular despite Deanna's commercial single on Decca, closed the U.S. print. Both endings are included on the VHS and DVD release of the movie from Universal Studios. See more »
The first part centering around family life in the Dana family is utterly charming. The three spirited sisters are feeling the pangs of youth and the opposite sex. That scene where a romantically inclined Jane (Durbin) goes riding with her car crazy boyfriend (Stack), only to have him more interested in putting a potato in his exhaust pipe than being with her is a hoot. Poor Jane. Then there's the budding Nancy (Gillis) and older sister Sylvia (Gwynne), both with their share of guy problems. Good thing dad's (Benchley) on hand to dispense fatherly wisdom. Note too how the family shares meals and talks together around a family table with no TV or cell phone in sight. In similar fashion, this first part is both amusing and insightful into norms of the day.
But once the attractively sophisticated Calvert (Tone) arrives, the focus shifts to preserving Durbin's iconic virginity. In short, her virtue wobbles while in the overnight company of bachelor Calvert. And though there are still amusing moments, much of the earlier charm diminishes. Nonetheless, Durbin shines, especially in close-ups, while getting to show off her highly musical voice. The song selection, however, is undistinguished, except for Old Folks At Home. At the same time, the approaching big war is sensed in the two patriotic compositions coming at the end.
Too bad that Durbin is largely forgotten today. But then social norms reflected in her career have changed drastically. Nonetheless, she was a highly talented performer whose close-ups continue to project a timeless magic.
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