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Sunday, 30 April 2017

Noel Bjorndahl's tribute to Deanna Durbin - (Edited from a long ago Facebook post)

Deanna Durbin, one of the most charming film personalities ever to grace the silver screen, died four year ago at the age of 91. 

I well remember my mother taking me to the Tivoli theatre in Brisbane when I was about 11 years old to see His Butler's Sister (1943). It was directed by Frank Borzage, a great Hollywood director from the silent era onwards, who specialized in many (deservedly) highly acclaimed romantic comedies and melodramas. I was entirely captivated by the charm and vivacity of Ms Durbin then, and have in my adult life made a point of chasing up all of her 21 or so films. They vary in quality, but the best of them have aged remarkably well, especially First Love (Henry Koster, 1939), Three Smart Girls Grow Up (Koster, 1939), and a charming noir spoof, Lady on a Train (1945), directed by her husband Charles David. She also played , very creditably, a serious role in Robert Siodmak's important film noir Christmas Holiday (1944), opposite Gene Kelly in an uncharacteristically unsympathetic part. It was based on Somerset Maugham material. She retired in 1949, left Hollywood, and insisted on her privacy for the rest of her life. She single-handedly saved Universal studios from bankruptcy in the 1930s.  Deanna-you were always much more interesting than you were ever given credit for. 

Lady on a train

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