A senator's daughter (who can't help singing) follows her boyfriend West in the days of the California gold rush.A senator's daughter (who can't help singing) follows her boyfriend West in the days of the California gold rush.A senator's daughter (who can't help singing) follows her boyfriend West in the days of the California gold rush.
She Can't Help it!
In a decade devoid of great (non-MGM, non-Rita Hayworth) color musicals, CAN'T HELP SINGING deserves a more important place among the celebrated. A female-driven western tale preceding HARVEY GIRLS, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, and CALAMITY JANE, while musically aping Broadway smash OKLAHOMA, this adaptation of GIRL OF THE OVERLAND TRAIL is the uniting of three great entertainment entities - Durbin, Jerome Kern, and the resources of the Universal Technicolor escapist machine. After losing Durbin's producer, Joe Pasternak, and her director, Henry Koster, to MGM, you'd think they would have tried more often, but no, Durbin's 1940s pictures were not expensively-mounted productions, and this is quite a distinctive product for 1943-4 Universal. However, not being a Durbin afficionado is probably the main reason this is my favorite Durbin vehicle. The superior if neglected Kern score awaits rediscovery, from the beguiling title tune (Durbin and company can't help singing from outdoor bathtubs) to lush ballads like "More and More" (also a big Perry Como hit), and a rousing, ersatz "Oklahoma" homage to "Californ-i-a." Without Maria Montez-John Hall to bolster, the populous if underused supporting company does well enough, with Robert Paige (a sort of poor man's John Carroll) not near so bad as I'd heard. Make no mistake, the "Durbin-ator" dominates the affair, surrounded by all the bright, lush colors of the Technicolor rainbow lavishly painting impressive backdrops of scenery, an extravagant, detailed, period wardrobe, and the Collector's Doll make-up adorning the star's perfect face. Durbin herself is at her gorgeous peak, and this colorful achievement is certainly the entertainment it set out to be.
- Feb 26, 2002
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