Saturday, September 03, 2011

Dear Java: Which Deanna Durbin Movies Are Available?

Java's Journey received an inquiry from R. Chow in the comments section of the 1981 Photo of Deanna Durbin:

I am able to buy only half of Deanna Durbin's movies in DVD. I wonder where I can buy her other DVD movies. I enjoy her movies because [they are] are direct, simple and beautiful. 
Thanks, R. Chow. I completely agree that the allure of Ms. Durbin's films is in their simplicity. I'm glad to meet another fan of Deanna Durbin.

On to your question.



DEANNA DURBIN ON DVD

Since you have about half of Deanna Durbin's films on DVD, you have all that are available in that format.

Deanna Durbin made 21 feature films for Universal Studios and 1 short subject for MGM. Only 11 Durbin feature films are on DVD. (Please note that all DVD information on this post refers to Region 1 DVDs)






  • Universal released The Sweetheart Pack in 2004. It is a set of six Deanna Durbin films on DVD: Three Smart Girls, Something in the Wind, First Love, It Started With Eve, Can't Help Singing and Lady on a Train. You can buy it at the studio's website, TCM.com , Amazon.com or in stores.





    •  In August 2010, Universal banded together with Turner Classic Movies to release another set of Durbin films in the Deanna Durbin: The Music and Romance Collection. Five DVDs are in this set: Mad About the Music, That Certain Age, Three Smart Girls Grow Up, Because of Him and For the Love of Mary. These films are available as a set or individually at TCM.com and on Amazon.com.





    DEANNA DURBIN ON VHS

    VHS cover for 3 Smart Girls
    Although there are only 11 official Durbin DVDs, there are 18 feature length Durbin movies on VHS. Some movies are available in both formats.

    In 1995, Durbin's movies were made available for home viewing for the first time. According to this Washington Post article from January 24, 1995, Universal released four Durbin movies on VHS : Three Smart Girls, One Hundred Men and a Girl, Three Smart Girls Grow Up and It Started With Eve. Universal would later release more Durbin films throughout the late 1990s.

    According to the interview in this 1995 article, Universal Studios owns the rights to all Deanna Durbin feature films. However, MGM/UA released It's A Date (1940) on VHS on September 1, 1998, suggesting the competing studio might now own the rights to that film.

    By 1999, the grand total for Deanna Durbin feature films on VHS from both studios was 18 in all. They are available at Amazon.com. 

    VHS - MGM's release of It's a Date

    Contact Universal for more information and to request that the remainder of Durbin's films be released on DVD.

    Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    100 Universal City Plaza Universal Studios, CA. 91608
    General Phone: 818.508.9600
    www.universalstudios.com

    Contact MGM about It's a Date (1940)
    MGM Studios
    10250 Constellation Boulevard Los Angeles, CA. 9006
    Phone for DVD Questions: 888-223-2369

    Just for the sake of clarity, the following is a list of all Durbin films (and the short subject), whether they are officially available for home viewing and in what format: DVD or VHS. Click the titles for more information on the movie.

    LIST OF DEANNA DURBIN FILMS

    VHS cover for 100 Men & a Girl
    EVERY SUNDAY(1936) 
    Deanna Durbin's 11 minute short subject is owned by MGM and co-stars Judy Garland; you'll find it on the two following Garland films.

    Available on DVD? Yes.  A bonus feature on For Me and My Gal (1942)
    Available on VHS? Yes.  A bonus feature on Summer Stock (1950)

    THREE SMART GIRLS (1936)

    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995


    ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (1937)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995.

    MAD ABOUT MUSIC (1938) 
    Available on DVD? Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996.

    THAT CERTAIN AGE (1938)
    Available on DVD? Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1997.

    THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939) 
    Available on DVD? Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995

    VHS cover for It Started With Eve
    FIRST LOVE (1939)
    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996.

    IT’S A DATE(1940)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MGM/UA in 1998.


    SPRING PARADE (1940)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? No.

    NICE GIRL?(1941)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1997.

    IT STARTED WITH EVE(1941)
    Available on DVD?Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1995

    THE AMAZING MRS. HOLLIDAY (1943) 
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by Universal in 1999.


    HERS TO HOLD (1943)
    Available on DVD? No.
    VHS cover for His Butler's Sister
    Available on VHS? No.

    HIS BUTLER’S SISTER(1943)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996

    CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY(1944) 
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? No.


    CAN’T HELP SINGING(1944)
    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1997.

    LADY ON A TRAIN(1945)
    Available on DVD? Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1996.

    BECAUSE OF HIM(1946) 
    Available on DVD?Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music & Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by Universal in 1999.
    VHS cover for Up In Central Park

    I’LL BE YOURS(1947)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by Universal in 1999.


    SOMETHING IN THE WIND(1947)
    Available on DVD?Yes. In the Sweetheart Pack released in 2004
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1998.


    UP IN CENTRAL PARK(1948)
    Available on DVD? No.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1998.


    FOR THE LOVE OF MARY (1948)
    Available on DVD?Yes. Released in TCM's Deanna Durbin:The Music and Romance Collection in 2010.
    Available on VHS? Yes. Released by MCA/Universal in 1998.

    9 comments:

    1. Although IT'S A DATE isn't available on DVD, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) does show it a couple of times a year, usually as part of a Kay Francis birthday salute, and, occasionally, as an acknowledgement of Deanna's birthday, so people can record or DVR it if they have the equipment for doing so.

      Unless they bought them back recently, as far as I know, MCA UNIVERSAL doesn't own the rights to this one. Joe Pasternak reportedly bought the rights to the film and remade it in 1951 as NANCY GOES TO RIO, starring Metro's talented Durbin follow up, Jane Powell. This is why the film wasn't released on VHS with the other Durbin titles in the 1990s.

      Incidentally, I have read that the Durbin films were hugely successful when released on VHS. They reportedly were the most successful "Collection" of classic films released by MCA/UNIVERSAL up until that time, outselling similar sets devoted to great stars like Claudette Colbert, Bing Crosby and Abbott and Costello.

      You can hear Universal itself acknowledge this in the introductory comments to the second set of Durbin VHS films (MAD ABOUT MUSIC, FIRST LOVE, HIS BUTLER'S SISTER, LADY ON A TRAIN) in which they refer to the "unprecedented success" of the first set.

      ReplyDelete
    2. Mark,
      Thanks for the input. I knew Nancy Goes to Rio was a remake, but wasn't sure if MGM owned it or was loaned it or what. Pasternak bought it? That would explain a lot.

      Thank you!

      -- Java

      ReplyDelete
    3. I wish someone would eventually release all of Deanna's films on DVD separately. I'd buy First Love like a shot if it was released, but I don't neccessarily want the whole Sweetheart Pack.

      ReplyDelete
    4. I hear you!

      Until then, I suppose we could just continue sending missives to Universal Studios requesting they release everything in DVD separately.

      All the best,
      Java

      ReplyDelete
    5. No offense, but as a Doctorate in Voice College Professor, Jane Powell was NO 'follow-up' to Deanna Durbin. I recommend Durbin to young sopranos all the time. I rarely recommed Powell for anything, except to watch Astaire in "Royal Wedding."


      - (formerly) AlmostMusicPhD

      ReplyDelete
    6. Anon, I believe Mark meant Jane Powell is a follow up to Durbin not in voice style [Powell's is "thinner" than Durbin's more operatic belt] but in early film career trajectory.

      Teenaged Powell's career was heavily choreographed by Joe Pasternak, the same producer who revved up Durbin's career at Universal. Pasternak jumped ship when Durbin retired in the late 1940s, moving to MGM and rehashing some of the same story lines that worked for Durbin about 10 years prior.

      MGM was obviously grooming Powell to be the next precocious teen sensation; there was plenty of room to cash in on the pre-teen and teen market.

      Powell was to be in the late 1940s/ 1950s what Durbin, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland were in the 1930s and what Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan were during the war years.

      ReplyDelete
    7. Thanks for clarifying my comments, Java.

      While I do think Jane Powell was a "follow up" to Deanna both in terms of her career trajectory at MGM (as you correctly point out, she was assigned to Deanna's former producer Joe Pasternak at Metro) and stylistically (like Deanna, Jane was a lyric soprano), I agree with Anonymous that Deanna was, both as a singer and an actress, the finest young soprano Hollywood ever promoted.

      Deanna wasn't only the first "teen soprano" American film star/teen idol, she was the best, at least in my opinion, and in a class by herself.

      Deanna's firm pure lyrical singing style betrayed none of the heavily stylistic, occasionally "mannered" formality of contemporary adult vocalists like Jeanette MacDonald, Grace Moore and Lily Pons, nor any of the vibrato-laden vocalism and slighty "arch" or "coy" acting of adolescent soprano follow ups like Gloria Jean, Gloria Warren, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell.

      I don't mean to imply that these other ladies weren't talented, they were, but the self-confidence, spontaneity and artless ease Deanna had as a singer-actress was, I think, unique and set her apart from the others.

      Still, while I do detect some arch and "nervous" qualities in Jane's singing and (early) acting, I'd say of all the adolescent sopranos who got a shot at Hollywood stardom in the wake of Deanna's success, Jane came closest to approximating Deanna's gifts.

      ReplyDelete
    8. Hi Mark. Great to have you here, as always.

      "...I'd say of all the adolescent sopranos who got a shot at Hollywood stardom in the wake of Deanna's success, Jane came closest to approximating Deanna's gifts." - M

      I wonder if part of that is due to changing audience tastes. Once you get into the late 1950s/1960s, for instance, you get more outwardly rebellious teens.

      Maybe it's just my old age talking, but it's difficult to be as winning and charming as Deanna or Jane when the plot calls for you to be desperate to get away from your nucleus family and, say, start an affair with a married man (e.g. Gidget Goes to Rome).

      Also, singing an aria would be "square" and all the teens in later films wanted to be hip in the movies.

      It might not be their fault, is what I'm saying. Did the ones in Durbin's wake, with all their talents, ever have the same platform? The same receptive audience? When Durbin retired they broke the mold.

      Just a thought.

      - Java

      ReplyDelete
    9. Hi Java:

      Most of the young screen sopranos to whom I alluded, such as Kathryn Grayson, Gloria Jean, Susanna Foster, Betty Jaynes, Linda
      Ware, and Gloria Warren, were contemporaries of Deanna's.

      Some may have been a couple of years younger (Jaynes was a little older), but they all made their screen debuts, and most received their greatest screen opportunities, while Deanna was still riding high.

      In fact, talented as they were, they all more or less owed Hollywood's initial interest in their potential to Deanna's instantaneous and enduring success, as rival studios (e.g., MGM, Paramount, Warners) and Universal itself, sought to find "another young girl with a voice" to build into a "Durbinesque" singing sensation.

      Therefore, I would say that they were not only given the same opportunities Deanna was, but their films played to the same audiences who had enjoyed Deanna's films.

      (For example, check out Bosley Crowther's NEW YORK TIMES rave of 1946's TWO SISTERS FROM BOSTON, and note how he compares it to Deanna's early Pasternak/Koster vehicles.)

      And although both Ann Blyth and Jane Powell were several years younger than Deanna, and came of cinematic age in the late World War II/immediate postwar period, the success of Jane's MGM vehicles in particular, prove that audiences were still receptive to seeing musicals featuring a talented young soprano.

      And even during the late 1940s/early 1950s other "Durbin follow ups" were being offered their shots at movie stardom, such as Lois Butler in 1947's Eagle-Lion production, MICKEY, and, in 1953, Anna Maria Alberghetti promoted as "a new Deanna Durbin" in publicity for Paramount's THE STARS ARE SINGING, which also featured MGM operatic stalwart Lauritz Melchior and marked the screen debut of pop singer Rosemary Clooney.

      But while several of these talented ladies enjoyed some considerable degree of screen success, none of them approximated the sensation created by Deanna Durbin, nor have they generally weathered critical analysis by subsequent generations of film critics and historians as well as Deanna.

      Thus, perhaps not surprisingly, you find comments like pop culture/music critic Ethan Morrden's comparing Deanna with Kathryn and Jane. ("[Deanna's] opera (singing) has a confidence one finds lacking in that of the coeval Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell.

      Or film historian Charles Affron's on Deanna's appeal:

      Deanna Durbin's sweet voice and sound musical instincts take on particular value when she is compared to her 1940s counterparts, the "legit" sopranos Jane Powell and Kathryn Grayson....

      While Deanna, like all performers, has her detractors, I can't recall coming across any critical commentary favoring these other young sopranos over her. It may very well exist, but I haven't seen it yet.

      (Incidentally Java, did you know that the GIDGET films were based on a book written by Frederick Kohler, who had cut his cinematic teeth as a writer on such early Deanna Durbin vehicles as MAD ABOUT MUSIC? It's true!)

      ReplyDelete

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