Tom's Review of Durbin's Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943)

Movie star Deanna Durbin is known for her feel-good films and perky demeanor - assets that helped morale during the harrowing times of World War II. The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943) is one of Ms. Durbin's more dramatic films. Durbin plays a missionary who aids orphans in war-torn areas.

Tom at The Amazing Deanna Durbin Blog has written a review of that film here: The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (1943).

Tom makes an excellent point that the movie is so realistic that for awhile "it almost felt like an autobiographical film." He's right - the first half of the film is like an engrossing documentary or newsreel. The studio-controlled star was rarely allowed to do straight drama, which is one more reason to see this movie and enjoy a not-as-well-known side of Deanna Durbin.


  1. Hi Java:

    It was Albert Sharpe, not Barry Fitzgerald, who played Deanna's dad in the film version of UP IN CENTRAL PARK. Sharpe had recently created the role of "Finnian McLonergan" in the original Broadway production of FINIAN'S RAINBOW.

    Later, among other roles, Sharpe would portray Sarah Churchill's father in MGM's 1951 musical ROYAL WEDDING and the title role in Disney's DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE.

    After Joe Pasternak left Universal for MGM, and after Deanna's own walkout from the studio was resolved, the noted French director Jean Renoir was hired by Universal to help craft a more "mature" screen image for her. Bruce Manning, who had been a writer on several earlier Durbin films, was promoted to producer for this one.

    Filming began without a script, and Universal, at least initially, seemed confident that Renoir could produce the film in the more spontaneous "create as you go" style he'd used in France. It didn't work, and as months dragged on without the film being completed, Universal became more concerned and intrusive in all elements of the film's production.

    Renoir ultimately became frustrated with the "Studio System" style and abandoned the film, citing the flare-up of an old War wound as a more obvious reason. Bruce Manning got stuck with the task of stringing together the scenes Renoir had shot into some sort of cohesive whole so that the film could be released, and received onscreen credit as the film's director. His only directing credit.

    Still, Deanna (who should know) claims that Renoir shot 2/3 of the released print of THE AMAZING MRS. HOLLIDAY. And though Renoir was frustrated by the experience, he was very impressed with Deanna. In his contemporary correspondence with his family, he praised her as a "remarkable actress" and "the best of comrades."

  2. Mark,
    Thanks for pointing out the inaccuracy; I've excised it from the post. There's no excuse for my mistake.

    Your story sheds lots of light on the subject of why the movie seems so uneven in tone. I'm sending Tom at ADD blog this information.

    -- JAVA

  3. Java,
    Thanks for linking to this review. This is the first time visiting the Durbin blog. I'll have to add it to the least. A great film and a nice review.

  4. Hey, I got so interested I just kept going! I had already talked to you about the summer movie one, but I had a lot of fun catching up others!

    You know, I may have to give Deanna Durbin another chance. I never liked her when I was young, and haven't watched her since! I think I'll start with this movie...

  5. Thanks Page and ClassicBecky. I love her movies, but her off-camera life is probably what compelled me to continue watching. She's like Elizabeth Taylor in that way - the context of the films and her relationships with others make Deanna Durbin one of the most interesting Hollywood lives ever.


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