|Directed by||Henry Koster|
|Produced by|| Henry Koster |
|Music by||Hans J. Salter|
|Cinematography||Joseph A. Valentine|
|Edited by||Bernard W. Burton|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Budget||over $1 million or $990,000|
First Love is a 1939 American musical film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin.Based on the fairy tale Cinderella , the film is about an orphan who is sent to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle after graduating from boarding school. Her life is made difficult by her snobby cousin who arranges that she stay home while the rest of the family attends a major social ball. With the help of her uncle, she makes it to the ball, where she meets and falls in love with her cousin's boyfriend. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Music.
Constance Harding is an unhappy orphan who will soon graduate from Miss Wiggins' school for girls. Her only real relatives are members from the James Clinton family, but they show little interest in the teenager. She is brought to New York by one of their butlers, where she moves in with a bunch of snobs. The upperclass people are not impressed with her, but Connie is able to befriend the servants.
One afternoon, her cousin Barbara Clinton orders Connie to stop Ted Drake from going riding without her. Connie tries the best she can, which results in embarrassing herself. She has secretly fallen in love with him and is filled with joy when she learns the Drake family is organizing a ball. The servants raise money to buy her a fashionable dress. However, Barbara spreads a lie and Connie is eventually prohibited from attending the ball.
Connie is heartbroken, until the servants arrange a limousine she can use until midnight. Meanwhile, the police detain the Clinton family car until almost midnight when they can be brought before a judge, since the chauffeur is missing the vehicle's proof of ownership. At the ball, everyone is impressed with her singing talents. Ted notices her and tries to charm her. They eventually kiss, when Connie realizes it is midnight. She runs off, but accidentally leaves one of her slippers behind. Ted finds the slipper and tries to locate the owner.
Arriving at the ball just before midnight, Barbara spots Connie leaving the ball. Infuriated, she tries to break Connie's confidence and fires all the servants. The next day, Connie is missing as well, and her uncle James berates Grace, Barbara, and Walter for their hostile/indifferent attitude to Connie. Meanwhile, Connie returns to Miss Wiggins' school in the hope of becoming a music teacher. Ted follows her and they reunite in the end.
In April 1938, Universal announced Durbin would star in Cinderella directed by Henry Koster and producer by Joe Pasternak from a script by Bruce Manning and Felix Jackson, in color.In May the studio said Durbin would make the film following Three Smart Girls Grow Up . However in late May it was reported the film was abandoned due to protests by exhibitors and also the objections of Walt Disney who said he owned the title.
In June 1938, Peter Milne and Irma Von Curbe were reported writing the script, now called First Love.
In January 1939, Charles Boyer signed to co star.
The film was pushed back to Durbin could make After School Days.
Eventually Boyer dropped out of the film. Lewis Howard and Robert Stack were signed to make their debuts. Filming started June 1939. The movie was shot in black and white.
Filming started with writer Bruce Manning saying he was unsure of the ending.
Joe Pasternak later wrote in his memoirs there had been pressure at Universal to put Durbin in older roles:
I insisted that Deanna was one of those personalities which the world not only takes to its bosom but insists as regarding as its personal prop-erty. We dressed her, as I said, with great consideration for her position. The occasion of her first kiss was as significant to us, and, as it happened, to her audience, as must be the first kiss of any girl sixteen years old. We instituted a veritable Gone With the Wind-style search for the right boy. Robert Stack finally won it. A million words must have been written on the subject. I do not contend that there were not more weighty matters at the time. But it is proof, I think, of the interest that every stage of Deanna's development held for the world.
In his review in The New York Times, Frank S. Nugent wrote that the film "affords the usual pleasant scope for the talents, graces and charming accomplishments of Miss Deanna Durbin."Nugent continued:
Certainly there is nothing highbrow about Deanna and her vocal selections, which this time include a sentimental number called "Home, Sweet Home," that sounds as if it has the makings of a hit. The most pretentious item is an Englished version of Puccini's "Un bel di" ending prettily with a romantic crisis when Prince Charming walks in tactfully on the correct note to save Deanna from a life of school-marmish spinsterhood. The story is slight, fragile and appropriately dewy, as befits the Dresden-in-modern-dress spectacle of Miss Durbin standing with exceedingly unreluctant feet where the brook and river meet. That much advertised First Kiss is consummated with such idyllic restraint that not even the queasiest stockholder could fear that Miss Durbin will burn herself out emotionally before she is 20.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
Three Smart Girls is a 1936 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Barbara Read, Nan Grey, Deanna Durbin, and Ray Milland. The film's screenplay was written by Adele Comandini and Austin Parker, and is about three sisters who travel to New York City to prevent their father from remarrying. The three plot to bring their divorced parents back together again.
One Hundred Men and a Girl is a 1937 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin and the maestro Leopold Stokowski. Written by Charles Kenyon, Bruce Manning, and James Mulhauser from a story by Hanns Kräly, the film is about the daughter of a struggling musician who forms a symphony orchestra consisting of his unemployed friends. Through persistence, charm, and a few misunderstandings, they are able to get famed conductor Leopold Stokowski to lead them in a concert, which leads to a radio contract. One Hundred Men and a Girl was the first of two motion pictures featuring Leopold Stokowski, and is also one of the films for which Durbin is best remembered as an actress and a singer.
Bachelor Mother (1939) is an American romantic comedy film directed by Garson Kanin, and starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven, and Charles Coburn. The screenplay was written by Norman Krasna based on an Academy Award-nominated story by Felix Jackson written for the 1935 Austrian-Hungarian film Little Mother. With a plot full of mistaken identities, Bachelor Mother is a light-hearted treatment of the otherwise serious issues of child abandonment.
Henry Koster was a German-born film director. He was the husband of actress Peggy Moran.
Edna Mae Durbin, known professionally as Deanna Durbin, was a Canadian-born actress and singer, who later settled in France. She appeared in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed many styles from popular standards to operatic arias.
Joseph Herman Pasternak was a Hungarian-born American film producer in Hollywood. Pasternak spent the Hollywood "Golden Age" of musicals at MGM Studios, producing many successful musicals with female singing stars like Deanna Durbin, Kathryn Grayson and Jane Powell, as well as swimmer/bathing beauty Esther Williams' films. He produced Judy Garland's final MGM film, Summer Stock, which was released in 1950, and some of Gene Kelly’s early breakthrough roles. Pasternak worked in the film industry for 45 years, from the later silent era until shortly past the end of the classical Hollywood cinema in the early 1960s.
Christmas Holiday is a 1944 film noir crime film directed by Robert Siodmak starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly. Based on the 1939 novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham, the film is about a woman who marries a Southern aristocrat who inherited his family's streak of violence and instability and soon drags the woman into a life of misery. After he is arrested, the woman runs away from her husband's family, changes her name, and finds work as a singer in a New Orleans dive. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Musical Score for Hans J. Salter.
Can't Help Singing is a 1944 American musical Western film directed by Frank Ryan and starring Deanna Durbin, Robert Paige, and Akim Tamiroff. Based on a story by John D. Klorer and Leo Townsend, the film is about a senator's daughter who follows her boyfriend West in the days of the California gold rush. Durbin's only Technicolor film, Can't Help Singing was produced by Felix Jackson and scored by Jerome Kern with lyrics by E. Y. Harburg.
Gloria Jean was an American actress and singer who starred or co-starred in 26 feature films from 1939 to 1959, and made numerous radio, television, stage, and nightclub appearances. She is probably best remembered today for her appearance with W.C. Fields in the film Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941).
Three Smart Girls Grow Up is a 1939 American musical comedy film directed by Henry Koster, written by Felix Jackson and Bruce Manning, and starring Deanna Durbin, Nan Grey, and Helen Parrish. Durbin and Grey reprise their roles from Three Smart Girls, and Parrish replaces Barbara Read in the role of the middle sister. Durbin would reprise her role once more in Hers to Hold.
Mad About Music is a 1938 American musical film directed by Norman Taurog and starring Deanna Durbin, Herbert Marshall, and Gail Patrick. Based on a story by Marcella Burke and Frederick Kohner, the film is about a girl at an exclusive boarding school who invents an exciting father. When her schoolmates doubt his existence, she has to produce him. Mad About Music received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Music, and Best Original Story.
It Started with Eve is a 1941 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin, Robert Cummings, and Charles Laughton. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Music Score. The film is considered by some critics to be Durbin's best film, and the last in which she worked with the producer and director that groomed her for stardom. It Started with Eve was remade in 1964 as I'd Rather Be Rich.
I'll Be Yours is a 1947 American musical comedy film directed by William A. Seiter and starring Deanna Durbin. Based on the play A jó tündér by Ferenc Molnár, the film is about a small-town girl who tells a fib to a wealthy businessman, which then creates complications. The play had earlier been adapted for the 1935 film The Good Fairy by Preston Sturges.
That Certain Age is a 1938 American musical film directed by Edward Ludwig and starring Deanna Durbin and Melvyn Douglas. Based on a story by F. Hugh Herbert, the film is about a dashing reporter who returns from covering the Spanish Civil War and is invited to spend time at his publisher's home, where his adolescent daughter develops a crush on him. The family does their best to sway the young girl's feelings away from the reporter, but it is a challenge, as she is at "that certain age". Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Music and Best Sound Recording.
It's a Date is a 1940 American musical film directed by William A. Seiter and starring Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, and Walter Pidgeon. Based on a story by Jane Hall, Frederick Kohner, and Ralph Block, the film is about an aspiring actress who is offered the lead in a major new play, but discovers that her mother, a more experienced actress, was hoping to get the same part. Their lives are complicated further when they both get involved with the same man. Distributed by Universal Pictures, It's a Date was remade in 1950 as Nancy Goes to Rio.
Nice Girl? is a 1941 American musical film directed by William A. Seiter, and starring Deanna Durbin, Franchot Tone, Walter Brennan, Robert Stack, and Robert Benchley. Based on the play Nice Girl? by Phyllis Duganne, the film is about a young girl who finds herself attracted to one of her father's business partners who comes to town to give her father a scholarship for his dietary studies.
The Amazing Mrs. Holliday is a 1943 American comedy drama film produced and directed by Bruce Manning and starring Deanna Durbin, Edmond O'Brien, and Barry Fitzgerald.
Something in the Wind is a 1947 American musical comedy film directed by Irving Pichel and starring Deanna Durbin, Donald O'Connor, and John Dall.
For the Love of Mary is a 1948 American romantic comedy film directed by Frederick de Cordova and starring Deanna Durbin, Edmond O'Brien, Don Taylor, and Jeffrey Lynn. Written by Oscar Brodney, the film is about a young woman who takes a job at the White House as a switchboard operator and soon receives help with her love life from Supreme Court justices and the President of the United States. For the Love of Mary was the last film by Deanna Durbin, who withdrew from the entertainment business the following year to live a private life in France.
Felix Jackson was a German-born American screenwriter and film producer.
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