Monday, April 24, 2017


Young farm girl Ilonka (Deanna Durbin) brings her goat to market and while there has her fortune told: she will find her true love in Vienna; he will be an artist; and love will "hit you with a stick." She doesn't really believe the prediction, but when she lies down for a nap in a hay wagon, the wagon driver takes off for Vienna, not realizing she's asleep in back. The driver Latislav (S.Z. Sakall) is a baker who dreams of becoming the royal baker—he already bakes salt bread rolls for the Emperor—and he lets Ilonka stay and work at the bakery with his two very young nephews and Jenny (Anne Gwynne), his assistant. When the Army band goes marching by in the mornings, Jenny flirts with a handsome drummer named Harry (Robert Cummings), even though she's practically engaged to Count Zorndof. Through a comedy of errors, Harry winds up on a date with Ilonka rather than Jenny. He's embarrassed by her "country hick" ways in the big city, so they don't exactly hit it off right away, though later, when Ilonka realizes that Harry is an aspiring composer, she begins to think that he might be the artist she is destined to be with. Thanks to Ilonka's meddling, comedies of errors continue until the Emperor himself has to straighten things out.

I'm not a big Durbin fan, though to be fair I've only seen a couple of her movies. She doesn't bring much to the table except pleasantness—she has pleasing looks, a pleasing voice, and, generally, a pleasant persona. She's not bad but she leaves a bit of a personality hole in the middle of this operetta-ish tale. Actually, her character is fairly obnoxious in her single-minded drive; she seems more in love with the idea of fulfilling her fortune than with Harry. I've always found Cummings to be rather bland as well, though he's more fun here than usual. Sakall (pictured with Durbin) is Sakall—if you like his cuddly Germanic grandpa shtick (and I generally do), you'll like him here. Gwynne is fine, and good support is offered by Henry Stephenson (as the Emperor), Franklin Pangborn, Reginald Denny and Allen Joslyn. There are a few songs, including a fun dance number in the opening with Durbin and Mischa Auer and a song based on the Blue Danube Waltz. The two nephews are played by child actors Billy Lenhart and Kenneth Brown, who were known professionally as Butch and Buddy, and they are fun—when Sakall introduces them to Durbin, one of them asks, "Did you win her at the fair?" Fluffy and light and painless. [TCM]

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