Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Odd pair: Laughton with Durbin
IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941). Director: Henry Koster,

Deana Durbin and Charles Laughton in the same movie? But then, Laughton also did a film with Abbott and Costello, no snob he. In this engaging picture, Laughton is Jonathan Reynolds, a supposedly dying millionaire who wants to meet his son, Johnny's (Bob Cummings), fiancee, Gloria (Margaret Tallichet) before he kicks off. As Margaret isn't available and time is of the essence (or so it seems), Johnny importunes aspiring singer and hat check girl Anne Terry (Deanna Durbin) to pretend to be Gloria for a few hours. But Reynolds rallies and Anne finds she must keep up the deception a bit longer, especially if she wants a chance to meet the old man's show biz connections. And then the real Gloria shows up with her harridan of a mother (Catherine Doucet) ... Laughton and Durbin actually play well together, and this is one of the latter's better performances, possibly because of the company she's keeping. This kind of material was Bob Cummings' bread and butter and he's fine, and Laughton is excellent in an unusual role for him. Durbin did a lot of movies but It Started with Eve isn't just a "Deanna Durbin Movie," although she delivers the requisite song numbers [and does them well]. Mantan Moreland has a funny bit or two as a porter, and Guy Kibbee and Walter Catlett are terrific as the Bishop and Reynold's nervous [and we can assume inept] doctor. Anne comes off a bit self-centered at times, and it's interesting that the fiancee, usually a nasty person in these movies, actually seems kind of nice and sympathetic, even if her mother is a horror. Tallichet gave a fine performance in Stranger on the Third Floor; she was married to William Wyler.

Verdict: Amusing and pleasant romantic comedy with music. ***.

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