Patrick The Great (1945) - Donald O'Connor gets Deanna Durbin's hand-me-downs

Deanna Durbin's playful romp It's A Date (1940) at Universal Studios is an original story written by Ralph Block, Jane Hall and Frederick Kohner. MGM famously remade the vehicle for Jane Powell in Nancy Goes to Rio (1950). Between these two releases, in 1945, another remake was released from Durbin's studio - Patrick The Great.

It's the early 1940s and vaudevillian actor, dancer and movie sensation, Donald O'Connor, is joining the war effort. Universal will soon be without one half of a popular duo (the Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland of the lot) - O'Connor and Peggy Ryan. To squeeze as much revenue out of this entertainer as they can before his youth and fame (and possibly, his life) are gone, studio bosses slap together several O'Connor films to be rationed throughout the emergency like meat or vegetables.

O'Connor with Frances Dee and Donald Cook
According to the American Film Institute, the last of these short order films boasts a production date of mid-October 1943 to mid-November 1943, and was released two years later.  Considering that Durbin [who would later work with O'Connor after the war in Something In the Wind (1947)] played in the original a scant three years prior to the remake's production schedule, Universal seems to have been scrambling for material.

The original story makes the gender switch well. Instead of a girl and her actress mother inadvertently vying for the same Broadway role, it's a fellow and his father (Donald Cook). New York Times critic Bosley Crowther deems the film "promising" but ultimately disappointing and "all too familiar." The critic goes on to call O' Connor's aggressive manner "irritating," but he couldn't be farther from the truth. This rehashed story is redeemed by Ryan's and O' Connor's vivacity and charm.


  1. I agree, Java. I always liked Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan, both separately, and as a team.

    It's interesting that IT'S A DATE was so frequently "recycled." I don't have the Bosley Crowther NEW YORK TIMES review in front of me, but as I recall, though Crowther loved Deanna Durbin in it, he especially admired her ability to rise above the many deficiencies of the script.

    On the other hand, the plot hook, involving two generations of perfomers, undoubtedly provided a showcase for both young stars like Durbin, O'Connor and Ryan, and mature actors like Donald Cook, Frances Dee, Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Ann Sothern and Barry Sullivan. As such, it probably appealed to a wide age range of audience members.

  2. Mark,

    No matter the movie, Crowther always seems to enjoy Deanna Durbin in it. He - like everyone else - is smitten with her. :)

    Regarding generation differences in the film, you make a great point.

    I had not noticed that the adults in the film are not on the periphery of the teenagers' lives; Everyone seamlessly flows in and out of the plot as necessary.

    In other teen-focused films - I'm thinking Gidget - parents become accessories.

    But here, adults are actually full-on leads in the story.

    Great point.

    -- Java


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