Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Deanna Durbin's Last Hurrah: Film review of Lady on a Train (1945)

Deanna Durbin known affectionately as "Winnipeg's Sweetheart" charmed audiences from 1936 till her retirement in 1948. She was known for her beautiful singing voice and vivacious personality.

She is credited with an impressive 23 films in her short 12 year career. Why you may ask did she retire after only 12 years in film? Despite her success Deanna was never comfortable with the praise and adoration of her fans. At the young age of 27 and at the height of her career she walked away from it all. She married her third husband director Charles David (David directed Durbin in Lady On a Train) on the condition that she could one  day leave all the success and fame to live a quiet normal life in France and she did just that.  I applaud Ms. Durbin for being willing to cast off all her fame and fortune for a simple, quiet life.  Although, I do wonder if she had continued in Hollywood how far would her stardom have risen?
I"m glad that some of Ms. Durbin's films are still available for movie buffs like me to experience and enjoy.

Deanna made the classic, somewhat zany, whodunit comedy, Lady on a Train in 1945. She traded her trademark dark locks for blonde proving that blondes do have more fun!  This is one of my favorite roles of hers. Durbin plays Nikki Collins, a socialite traveling to New York via train who witnesses a murder from  her window seat on the train.  Determined to discover who was murdered she tried to involve the police, but they think she's crazy due to the fact that there's no body. She convinces a reluctant mystery writer, Wayne Morgan (David Bruce) to help her solve the murder.  Lady On a Train is a witty, fast-paced mystery that'll have you second guessing yourself until the very end.

The three numbers that Durbin sings in Lady on a Train really showcase her singing talents. When she sings she's displays a variety of emotions. Deanna's hauntingly beautiful rendition of Silent Night almost brings you to tears, but then when she's singing Gimme a Little Kiss she shows a fun and playful side. The third and final song she sings is Night and Day and this song seems perfectly suited to her vocals.  

If you're a fan of Durbin's work or simply want to watch more of her films, I urge you to watch Lady On a Train. It'll be of the most pleasant 94 minutes (movie's running time) you spend.

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