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Joseph H. Lewis
Dame May Whitty,
While waiting at a train station, Nikki Collins witnesses a murder from a nearby building. When she brings the police to the scene of the crime, they think she's crazy since there's no body. She then enlists a popular mystery writer to help with her sleuthing. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Deanna Durbin is a "Lady on a Train" in this 1945 mystery/comedy also starring David Bruce, Dan Duryea Edward Everett Horton, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Morison, and George Coulouris. The film is directed by Durbin's future husband, Charles David.
Photographed and wardrobed like the great star she was, Durbin plays Nikki Collins, a débutante who comes to New York to spend the Christmas holidays with her aunt. On the train en route to Grand Central, she looks out the window and sees the murder of an old man. Determined to investigate, she appeals to the mystery writer whose novel she was reading (Bruce). She nearly wrecks his life. His fiancée (Patricia Morison) is suspicious of Nikki, and thanks to Nikki, he gets beat up a lot. Meanwhile, her father's assistant (Horton) can never find her. Nikki finds herself involved with the victim's money-grubbing family and puts herself in danger.
A screwball comedy with the delightful Durbin doing a great job, singing like a dream, and looking fabulous. It's very slight but fun and directed by David with a good pace. The child Durbin was a little manic for me, but I love her adult work. Plus, she had possibly the best voice and best trained voice in films. The rest of the cast is wonderful, particularly David Bruce as the hapless author.
It's a shame that Universal, with such a valuable commodity, didn't buy and/or develop better properties for her. Durbin is often compared with Judy Garland, who definitely got better treatment at MGM.
Durbin was smart to retire while at the top, though with the coming musicals of the '50s, I'm sure her star would have risen even higher. In many hearts, 60 years later, she's still a star.
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