EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|HIS BUTLER'S SISTER (aka: MY GIRL GODFREY) (director: Frank Borzage; screenwriters: Samuel Hoffenstein/Betty Reinhardt; cinematographer: Woody Bredell; editor: Ted Kent; music: H.J. Salter; cast: Deanna Durbin (Ann Carter), Franchot Tone (Charles Gerard), Pat O'Brien (Martin Murphy), Akim Tamiroff (Popoff), Alan Mowbray (Jenkins), Hans Conreid (Reeves), Florence Bates (Lady Sloughberry), Sig Arno (Moreno), Walter Catlett (Kalb), Evelyn Ankers (Elizabeth Campbell), Frank Jenks (Emmett), Elsa Janssen (Severina), Andrew Tombes (Brophy), Iris Adrian & Robin Raymond (Sunshine Twins); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Felix Jackson; MCA Home Video; 1943)|
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Frank Borzage ("7th Heaven"/"A Farewell to Arms"/"Moonrise")
directs this trivial musical
comedy without distinction. It's never funny and never smart, and the
script is a mess. Writers Samuel Hoffenstein and Betty
Reinhardt mold it into an adult
Cinderella tale for Universal's most popular star Deanna Durbin, but can't decide until it's
too late if she should be a careerist or romantic.
Durbin's songs include "In the Spirit of the
Moment," "When You're Away,"
the "Nessun Dorma" aria from Turandot with
music by Puccini
and a medley of Russian folk songs.
The "Sunshine Twins"
sing "Is It True
What They Say About Dixie?", as they give an impromptu tryout for a
role in a famous composer's show while on a train to NYC (actually the
liveliest scene in the pic).
Aspiring young singer Ann
Carter (Deanna Durbin) is from a small town in Indiana and goes
by train to Manhattan in the hopes of auditioning for acclaimed
Broadway musical composer Charles Gerard (Franchot Tone). Ann's arrival surprises half brother Martin Murphy (Pat O'Brien), someone his kid sister hasn't
seen in years. He in turn surprises her that his Park Avenue residence
is owned, by coincidence, by music composer Charles Gerard and that
he's the butler and not the millionaire he led her to believe he was.
The ambitious Ann talks her way into being the maid, and schemes to get
the composer to hear her sing. But
brother foils all her attempts to sing, telling her Charles gets upset
with all those who try to take advantage of him when he's relaxing at
home and are not auditioning by his request at the studio.
Though Ann obeys her brother's
orders, things change when Charles instead develops a romantic interest
in her and she suddenly forgets her career ambitions and falls madly in
love with him. Complications
develop in this budding romance and before the predictable outcome
comes about of true love winning the day, things are suddenly resolved
in such a rash way that it leaves one wondering what the writers were
thinking when they had the love birds jump through such absurd hoops to
come together again.
This is a second-rate Durbin
vehicle that's poorly written (its biggest fault) and suffers because
O'Brien and Tone are too stiff for their jovial calling parts.
Nevertheless it should please Durbin fans because even if the story is
a dud at least she gets a chance to showoff some of her charms, which
are indeed magnificent to behold.
REVIEWED ON 2/19/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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