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Edward Everett Horton
In this reworking of Cinderella, orphaned Connie Harding is sent to live with her rich aunt and uncle after graduating from boarding school. She's hardly received with open arms, especially by her snobby cousin Barbara. When the entire family is invited to a major social ball, Barbara sees to it that Connie is forced to stay home. With the aid of her uncle, who acts as her fairy godfather, Connie makes it to the ball and meets her Prince Charming in Ted Drake, her cousin's boyfriend.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
"First Love" was a major transition for Universal star Deanna Durbin, as she was being positioned to shift from child star to engenue (something that Fox was inevitably unable to accomplish with Shirley Temple at the same time). While the film is not an overblown epic, it's lavish in the details, and carefully produced to give the whole piece a maximum of charm. To today's audiences, it might be a bit saccharine, but if you can dial down the cynicism of our age, the film's positive points grow.
Durbin plays much more subtly in this film than she had in many of her earlier films--signalling that she was now "maturer" instead of being a juvenile whirlwind ball of energy like she had been in "Three Smart Girls" and "100 Men and a Girl." Her beau, played by an impossibly young (and almost scarily good looking) Robert Stack, gives Durbin her first screen kiss--a source of major publicity for the film at the time.
The story is an updated Cinderella/screwball comedy, which nevertheless allows Durbin's character to break out into a few operatic arias throughout the film (this also takes some getting used to for modern audiences). The most memorable part of the film, suitably, happens during "the ball," where Durbin and Stack dance for the first time. Employing a charming idea, a shot of a crowded dance floor dissolves to a shot of just the duo dancing, to imply how the pair are so involved with each other that the rest of the world has faded away. If you like stuff like this, then you'll revel in the rest of the film.
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