Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Post #100

So, we reach an "odometer" post. It's hard to believe just how much stuff I've written these past few months. Anyhow, having reached 100 posts, I figured my 100th post should highlight an appropriately titled classic movie: One Hundred Men and a Girl.

Child star Deanna Durbin stars as Patricia Caldwell, a girl whose father (played by Adolphe Menjou), is a struggling, unemployed classical musician. One day, she comes into possession of a purse that was lost by a wealthy woman, and so she tracks down this woman to return the purse to her. Thanks to a series of misunderstandings, Patricia comes to believe that she's got a patron, Mrs. Frost (played by Alice Brady) for her father and his fellow unemployed musicians; one who will help her get the famed conductor Leopold Stokowski to conduct the orchestra of unemployed men. Of course, things don't quite work out as planned. Our benefactress sails off to Europe, and poor little Patricia is left to use her considerable moxie and chutzpah to try to convince Stokowski to take on the task of conducting the orchestra.

If you enjoy classical music, this is a really delightful movie. It's wonderful to have Stokowski on film as a testament to his work, and the music is a joy to listen to, even if the score is filled with choices that are "safe" in the sense that they'd have to appeal to a broader audience that don't know so much about classical music. Deanna Durbin also shines as the daughter and driving force behind the orchestra. Despite the presence of bigger names, you can't help but believe that the drive and ingenuity her Patricia Caldwell displays is just enough to convince Stokowski, even outside the make-believe world of Hollywood, to take a chance on these unemployed musicians. (Despite the movie being of the Great Depression, it's not a Warner Bros. movie, and so makes unemployment out to be much less unglamorous than it really would have been.) The supporting cast is fun to watch, too; not only do we get Adolphe Menjou, but veteran character actor Mischa Auer provides comic relief for the orchestra, while Eugene Pallette plays Mr. Frost.

One Hundred Men and a Girl was released by Universal, which means that it's a rarity on TCM, or any channel for that matter. However, IMDb lists it as being available on DVD. A movie with a similar theme, They Shall Have Music, was made two years later; in the later movie, a bunch of Dead End Boys-type kids rope Jascha Heifetz into playing with their pal's music school orchestra. Sadly, this latter movie is not on DVD.

No comments: