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>
After her bath Caroline changes into a clean white dress. However, she has had no access to her trunk where she would have kept her clothing. Such a voluminous dress couldn't have been stored in her hat-box or her small case, her only other luggage. See more »
Deanna Durbin in Technicolor, glorious Jerome Kern score, lavishly produced, and totally unappreciated musical diamond.
For reasons beyond comprehension, "Can't Help Singing" is a film no one I know has even heard of, much less seen, probably because Deanna Durbin, a child actress of the mid-1930s who blossomed into an alluring,witty, beautiful young woman in the 1940s, suddenly chucked her career in 1948, started a new life in the French countryside with her husband and subsequent children, and has never been heard from since. But, within a little more than a decade, she not only saved Universal studios from bankruptcy but was the most popular female star of her time. Watching her films today, one is amazed at how contemporary they--and she--are, particularly when she graduated from child star ("100 Men and a Girl," "Three Smart Girls") to a spunky young lady with a voice of pure velvet and a melting range of emotions (from rueful to sensual). "Can't Help Singing" is a luscious introduction to the timeless charm of Ms. Durbin. Her first--and only-- film in Technicolor, this lighthearted musical Western must have cost Universal a fortune--filmed mainly on outdoor locations in the Northwest, with one of Jerome Kern's most beautiful (and underappreciated scores). Forget the plot about a politician's daughter who, against her father's orders, heads West to track down her handsome cavalry lover (David Bruce) but, en route via covered wagon to the wild, wild West, finds herself locking horns--and finally arms--with a dashing, sarcastic cowboy (Robert Paige--whose good looks and soaring baritone are more than a match for Ms. Durbin's beauty and exquisite soprano).
What counts is the ravishing color photography of Kern's songs--filmed on location in the great outdoors (the highlight, for me, is Ms. Durbin's soaring rendition of "Any Moment Now" filmed as she wanders through the breathtaking backdrop of Bryce Canyon--truly one of the most exquisite musical interludes in movie history). Add "More and More" (Oscar-nominated), "Californiay," and the knockout title song (performed by Ms. Durbin & Mr. Paige in adjoining outdoor bathtubs--don't ask!)and there's little more you could wish for in a movie--musical or otherwise. I've read that the film was a boxoffice disappointment and hastened Ms. Durbin's decision to call it quits a few years later. And most of the reviews I occasionally come across are generally lukewarm, if not hostile. Movie scholars might argue that, from an historical viewpoint, "Can't Help Singing" was an unintentional precursor of all the zesty, musical Westerns that were to enchant movie audiences during the next decade. Perhaps so. Who cares. I can't see how anyone can resist the once-in-a-lifetime glories of Deanna Durbin in her dazzling prime, the most beauteous use of Technicolor imaginable, and the entrancing melodies of probably our finest American composer, Mr. Kern. Thank you all very much.
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