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It's a Date (1940)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 22 March 1940 (USA)
An aspiring actress is offered the lead in a major new play, but discovers that her mother, a more seasoned performer, expects the same part. The situation is further complicated when they both become involved with the same man.


William A. Seiter


Norman Krasna (screen play), Jane Hall (original story) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Deanna Durbin ... Pamela Drake
Kay Francis ... Georgia Drake
Walter Pidgeon ... John Arlen
Eugene Pallette ... Governor Allen
Henry Stephenson ... Captain Andrew
Cecilia Loftus ... Sara Frankenstein
Samuel S. Hinds ... Sidney Simpson
Lewis Howard ... Freddie Miller
S.Z. Sakall ... Karl Ober
Fritz Feld ... Headwaiter
Virginia Brissac ... Miss Holden
Romaine Callender ... Evans
Joe King ... First Mate Kelly
Mary Kelley Mary Kelley ... Governor's Wife
Eddie Polo ... Quarter Master


An aspiring actress is offered the lead in a major new play, but discovers that her mother, a more seasoned performer, expects the same part. The situation is further complicated when they both become involved with the same man.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Did You Know?


S.Z. Sakall's American film debut. See more »


When Pamela is singing Ave Maria; there is a male chorus on a platform at stage right while another male chorus begins to enter from stage right. But with each following cut; the orientation of the chorus keeps changing in regards to stage location and amount of members. See more »


Karl Ober: I can't work in New York anyway. Is this place far from here?
Pamela Drake: Oh, no, Mr. Ober, it's only Maine. You know where Maine is!
Karl Ober: No.
Pamela Drake: Oh, it's practically a few minutes from here! You could write fine there.
Sidney Simpson: 'A few minutes'!
Pamela Drake: [to Sidney, blithely] Yes!
[to Ober]
Pamela Drake: That's all, really.
Karl Ober: [wagging his finger] Then it isn't quiet enough. I have to go further away from New York.
Pamela Drake: Oh, good - it *is* far away! Takes a whole day to get there.
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References Street Scene (1931) See more »


Loch Lomond
Sung by Deanna Durbin
See more »

User Reviews

Mad About Acting
15 April 2016 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

IT'S A DATE (Universal, 1940), a Joe Pasternak production, directed by William A. Seiter, and starring Deanna Durbin, the studio's top box-office attraction, ranks another popular roaster to the Durbin movie lineup. Like many of her feature films (1936-1948), they were extremely popular, yet most have become forgotten through the passage of time. Not quite a movie about a dating service agency, IT's A DATE is one that tends to look like a best selling novel-type story told in chapter form with different backdrops. As with her earlier success of MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938), Durbin once again plays the daughter of an actress, this time a theatrical one with whom she's inherited both talent for acting and singing ability, with her main ambition to carry on the family trait.

The plot summary revolves around Georgia Drake (Kay Francis), a successful Broadway actress just completing her 400th and final stage performance of "Gypsy Lullaby." In attendance are its producer, Sidney Simpson (Samuel S. Hinds) and his friend, Carl Ober (S.Z. Sakall), a playwright visiting from Vienna. In a separate balcony are Georgia's daughter, Pamela (Deanna Durbin), and her escort boyfriend, Freddie Miller (Lewis Howard). Ober is seeking for an particular leading lady for his upcoming production of "Saint Anne," and feels Georgia too old for the part. After meeting with Pamela, however, he finds she'll make the perfect Saint Anne. Awarded the title role, Pamela accepts, unaware that this is the role her mother is eager to play. With Georgia already vacationing in Honolulu, Pamela, knowing her mother to be her best acting coach, arranges to meet with her in Hawaii. While on board the ship, S.S. Honolulu, Pamela lives her part to the fullest by reading her script, thus, causing John Arlen (Walter Pidgeon), a businessman and fellow passenger, to mistake her for an extremely unhappy young girl. To keep her mind off her troubles, John pretends to be a stowaway hiding in a lifeboat and allowing her to assist him with food and water during the voyage. After the misunderstandings are resolved, situations occur as Pamela learns the truth about the Saint Anne play. To spare her mother's feelings, Pamela uses Mr. Arlen as the source to keep her mind off the play, followed by some unforeseen circumstances.

Other appearing in the cast include: Eugene Palette (Governor Allen); Henry Stephenson (Captain Andrews); Cecilia Loftus (Sara Frankenstein, Georgia's personal maid and no relation to the Mary Shelley novel character); along with the familiar faces of Charles Lane, John Arledge, Eddie Acuff, Fritz Feld and Virginia Brissac, among others. Because the Drake women are depicted as part of a generation of actresses, maybe Cecilia Loftus should have played the actress grandmother discussed in conversation rather than the personal maid to make this family generation of actresses more bonding and acceptable to the plot.

The musical program includes: "Gypsy Lullaby" (voice dubbed "sung" by Kay Francis); "Love is All"(sung by Deanna Durbin); Traditional Scottish song of "Loch Lamond," "It Happened in Kaola" (by Ralph Freed and Frank Skinner); "Hawaiian War Chant," "Rhythm of the Islands," "Musetta's Street Song" from the opera, LA BOHEME by Giacomo Puccini; and "Ave Maria" by Franz Schubert. Durbin's rendition to "Ave Maria" is beautiful, but her earlier effort, "Love is All" is one of nicest songs ever sung by her. Producer Joe Pasternak must have loved "Ave Maria" enough to use it again for Jane Powell's HOLIDAY IN Mexico (MGM, 1946), which also featured Walter Pidgeon, as well as the story for a remake, NANCY GOES TO RIO (MGM, 1950) with Jane Powell and Ann Sothern in the Durbin and Francis roles. Because of the Pasternak style and Pidgeon in the cast, IT'S A DATE could easily be mistaken for an MGM film rather than one by Universal.

Still a teenager of about 18 or 19, Durbin has developed into an attractive young lady. For the movie in general, 103 minutes is quite a drawn-out process in storytelling, thus, standing apart from Durbin's 87 to 95 minute feature film presentations. Yet, what makes it so watchable, other than Durbin's song interludes, are the veteran players as former Warner Brothers star, Kay Francis; the debonair Walter Pidgeon on loan-out assignment from MGM; and soon-to-be character actor for Warner Brothers, S.Z. Sakall. With this being Francis' only assignment opposite Durbin, she would later appear opposite Gloria Warren, a Deanna Durbin look-a-like songstress, in a Durbin-type musical drama, ALWAYS IN MY HEART (Warner Brothers, 1942). While Durbin's film career extended until her retirement by 1948, Miss Warren, following a few more screen roles for other movie studios, disappeared to obscurity by the end of the decade.

Due to the aforementioned MGM remake, the 1940 original was reportedly unavailable for viewing for many years until the wake of cable television where it turned up on cable networks as Showtime (1985), a decade later on Turner Classic Movies, and availability on video cassette in the 1990s. To the film's credit, IT'S A DATE offers more than its share with amusements, songs, and story in the finest Durbin-style tradition. (***1/2)

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Release Date:

22 March 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

It Happened in Kaloha See more »


Box Office


$867,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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