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SOMETHING IN THE WIND (Universal-International, 1947), directed by Irving Pichel, is not a disaster hurricane or tornado movie, but a light-hearted musical-comedy starring the once-popular Deanna Durbin in one of her final film roles before closing her chapter in movie making by 1948. Considering a handful of "Wind" movie titles, consisting of THE WIND (1928), WOMEN IN THE WIND (1939), REAP THE WILD WIND (1942), VOICE IN THE WIND (1944), and the most famous wind of all, GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), SOMETHING IN THE WIND is simply a song title tagged to an ordinary story quite common during the screwball genre of the 1930s. Following weak comedy attempts of BECAUSE OF HIM (1946) and I'LL BE YOURS (1947), Durbin's latest installment is actually one of her better efforts, especially with the assistance Donald O'Connor.
Abandoning her shoulder-length hairstyle for a more mature 1940s style appearance, Deanna Durbin plays Mary Collins, a singing disc-jockey for WFOB Radio Station. After finishing her daily program, Mary is approached by the angry and upset Donald Read (John Dall), a rich, stuck-up snob identifying himself as grandson to the late Henry Read. Unaware of his purpose, she finds he wants her to sign a cash settlement to cease any further financial means she's been receiving for many years. Accused of being this old man's mistress, Mary, not liking this young man's tactics, storms out of the station. Once home where she lives with her Aunt Mary (Jean Adair), Mary soon learns it's her aunt, who, many years ago, had worked as governess for the Reads where she met and fell in love with Henry. Because the Read family disapproved of their relationship due to social standings, the engagement was broken, with Henry marrying another. Because of his engagement to socialite, Clarissa Prentice (Helena Carter), and hoping to avoid any scandal connected with the family name, Donald gets Charlie (Donald O'Connor), his third cousin, to go to the radio station and abduct Mary. Once inside the Read estate, Mary, knowing the situation to be mistaken identity, is unable to convince other family members, consisting of Grandma Read (Margaret Wycherly) and Uncle Chester (Charles Winninger) she's not the Mary Collins in question, decides to go on with her masquerade and accept the payoff settlement of a million dollars to support her and Henry's "child." As Mary and Donald plot against each other, one of the family members discovers Mary's deception and plots against her.
With Music and Lyrics by Johnny Green and Leo Robin, the motion picture soundtrack is as follows: "The Turntable Song," "Happy-Go-Lucky and Free" (both sung by Deanna Durbin); "I Love a Mystery" (sung and performed by Donald O'Connor); "Don't You, Daddy?" (sung by Durbin during fashion show); "The Turntable Song" (sung by The Four Williams Brothers and Donald O'Connor); "Something in the Wind," "It's Only Love" (both sung by Durbin); "Miserere" from Guiseppe Verdi's IL TROVADORE (sung and performed by Durbin and Jan Peerce, Star of the Metropolitan Opera Company); "Happy-Go-Lucky and Free" and "Something in the Wind" (reprises). Though the songs are forgettable, they're agreeably pleasant. Aside from Durbin's singing, Donald O'Connor highlights with his "I Love a Mystery" number, a somewhat forerunner to his antics to "Make 'Em Laugh" from "Singin' in the Rain" (MGM, 1952), which displays his ability in bot showmanship and comedy. Opera singer Jan Peerce, in a rare screen appearance, cast as a policeman, provides some fine moments singing opposite Durbin in jail. Other cast members include: Jacqueline De Wit (The Saleslady); William Ching (Master of Ceremonies); Chester Clute, Hal K. Dawson, Frank Wilcox, among others.
A couple interesting aspects about SOMETHING IN THE WIND is a look back at early television production provided towards the film's end, and the casting of dramatic actor, John Dall. Dall, on loan from Warner Brothers, best known for his rare screen work of THE CORN IS GREEN (1945), ROPE (1948) and GUN CRAZY (United Artists, 1949), seems uncomfortable in his role, especially when comedy is concerned. A loan-out from MGM's Peter Lawford might have been sufficient, but Dall does his best to make his character believable.
Scarcely shown on television, especially public television where it was commonly shown in the 1980s, SOMETHING IN THE WIND is pleasant, breezy89 minute entertainment, even without the wind. Distributed to home video in 1998, it's currently available on DVD with Durbin's feature film debut, THREE SMART GIRLS (1936), also featuring Charles Winninger, on its flip side. (***)
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