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Sunday, April 15, 2012

IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941)

Teen vocal sensation Deanna Durbin is grown-up & fetching in this modest romantic farce that’s both harmless and too-cute-for-words. She’s a hat-check girl at a fancy NYC hotel who pitches in (for a hefty tip) when young scion Robert Cummings asks her to pose as his fiancée. Seems the real girl is out shopping, and Dad’s dying request is to meet the lady. Cue Charles Laughton, whispering his last in his sickbed, and generally making a meal out of it. The trouble begins when he’s not only charmed by Deanna’s substitute fiancée, but starts to recover. Fill in the blanks. Considering the circumstances, Norman Krasna’s script is less sticky than you might fear (even if Deanna does sing Laughton back to health) and Henry Koster gets some boyish charm out of Cummings while generally helming with brisk efficiency. More than that, there’s a crackerjack opening sequence set in a newsroom as the city editor holds back the deadline, hoping to scoop Laughton’s imminent death. For a moment, we might be watching lesser Frank Capra. Alas, there’s no follow up once Laughton recovers; maybe it’s the newspaper that croaks?

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