It Started with Eve is a 1941 American musical romantic comedy film directed by Henry Koster and starring Deanna Durbin, Robert Cummings, and Charles Laughton. Based on a story by Hanns Kräly, the film is about a man whose dying father wants to meet his son's new fiancée, but she is unavailable, so he substitutes a hatcheck girl. Complications arise when the father unexpectedly recovers. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Music Score (Charles Previn and Hans J. Salter). The film is considered by some critics to be Durbin's best film, and the last in which she worked with the producer (Joe Pasternak) and director (Henry Koster) that groomed her for stardom. It Started with Eve was remade in 1964 as I'd Rather Be Rich.
Directed by: Henry Koster
Genre: Comedy, musical
Running time: 90 minutes
IT STARTED WITH EVE directed by Henry Koster, stars popular singer Deanna Durbin in one of her finest movie roles. Not quite a Biblical tale about Adam and Eve and the apple as the title might imply, nor is there any character in the story named Eve, but actually a comedy of errors in the screwball comedy tradition providing Durbin, still in her late teenage years, an opportunity in a more adult performance, with fine support by the diverse Charles Laughton in a character role that's both funny and touching, and Robert Cummings as a young man caught in the middle of a series of situations and having a difficult time coming up with suitable explanations.
The scenario revolves around Jonathan Reynolds (Charles Laughton) a middle-aged millionaire on his death bed whose final request is to meet the young lady engaged to his son, Johnny (Robert Cummings). To make his father's last days on Earth a pleasant one, Johnny rushes out into the rain to get his fiancé only to learn from the desk clerk that she and her mother are not available. Not wanting to waste any more valuable time, Johnny encounters a hat check girl (Deanna Durbin) and offers her $50 to return home with him and pose as his fiancée for about an hour. Explaining the circumstances at hand, she agrees. Masquerading as "Gloria Pennington," the girl, Anne Terry, meets the ailing Mr. Reynolds, who takes an immediate liking to her. After their union, the old man finds his son to be in good hands, and can now die in peace. The following morning, Jonathan miraculously recovers from his illness, gets out of bed demanding a large breakfast from his servants and for Johnny to bring "Gloria" back to visit with him. Complications ensue when Johnny not only has to locate Anne, who's about to take the next train back home to Shelbyville, Ohio, but to explain to the real Gloria (Margaret Tallichet) and her mother (Catherine Doucet), having returned from their trip, the situation that has occurred. Things become even more complex when Johnny tries to prevent his father from learning Anne is not his fiancée, and keeping Anne from attending his father's dinner function where she wants to audition for his theatrical agent friends in hope to land a singing career.
A highly enjoyable comedy with an original premise done at a leisurely pace with a couple of classical songs thrown in for good measure making use of Deanna Durbin's singing talent, including Peter Tchaikowsky's "The Tchaikowsky Waltz" and Antonin Dvorak's "Going Home." Supporting players consist of Guy Kibbee as Bishop Maxwell; Walter Catlett as Dr. Harvey, the nervous family physician; Dorothea Kent as Jackie Donovan, Anne's roommate; Clara Blandick as The Nurse; and comedian Mantan Moreland adding humor as the harassed train station baggage man.
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