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With the California Gold Rush beginning, Senator Frost's singing daughter Caroline loves a young army officer; the Senator can't stand him, and has him sent to California. Headstrong Caroline follows him by train, riverboat, and covered wagon, gaining companions en route: a vagrant Russian prince and gambler Johnny Lawlor, who just might take her mind off the army. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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A delight for fans of traditional musical comedy, and surprisingly innovative too!
You don't need to be a Deanna Durbin fan to find this film delightful. It should appeal to anyone who enjoys traditional musicals like "Oklahoma" and "Showboat".
Can't Help Singing is filled with humor and wit, played with a wink to the audience and genuine gusto--not dated in the least. Akim Tamaroff is especially funny; you can clearly see how he was the model for "Boris Badinov" in the "Bullwinkle" cartoons.
The songs are first rate; Kearn's melodies are beautiful and Harburg's lyric to "Californiay" is full of wit, creativity, and surprises; his other lyrics are well done, but nothing special.
Another layer of delight and interest to someone who knows about the history of movie musicals, like myself, is how far ahead of it's time this film is. The large majority of it is filled outdoors, a lot of it on location. This is unique and innovative in an era when virtually all musicals were filmed inside sound stages with some use of the studio back lot. One of the musical numbers features Durbin in outdoor locations which vary from shot to shot, while she continues to sing seamlessly. This is something that became common a decade or more later, but certainly pioneering in 1944.
Durbin and Paige are both fine singers, most likable, adept at playing the light humor their roles call for. This is a film that should be much better known and appreciated.
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