It's a Date (1940)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Musical, Romance


It's a Date (1940) Poster

An aspiring actress is offered the lead in a major new play, but discovers that her mother, a more seasoned performer, expects the same part. The situation is further complicated when they both become involved with the same man.


6.6/10
432

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  • Kay Francis and Walter Pidgeon in It's a Date (1940)
  • Deanna Durbin and Kay Francis in It's a Date (1940)
  • It's a Date (1940)
  • Deanna Durbin and Kay Francis in It's a Date (1940)
  • Deanna Durbin in It's a Date (1940)
  • It's a Date (1940)

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28 May 2001 | BrianDanaCamp
Deanna chases older man in hackneyed musical comedy
Six films and four years after her auspicious starring debut in THREE SMART GIRLS (1936), the luster of Deanna Durbin began to dim, but just a little. In IT'S A DATE (1940), she's saddled with two high-profile grown-up co-stars, Walter Pidgeon and faded 1930s star Kay Francis, both of whom considerably slow down the normally hyperactive Deanna.

The plot involves aspiring actress Deanna being offered a part that was originally promised to her stage diva mom (Kay). Then, in Hawaii, the plot shifts to a romantic triangle as the two women grapple, not for a part, but for the attentions of a pineapple tycoon, Pidgeon, who's more interested in the mother. The inherent drama in such a situation is jettisoned in favor of standard Universal Pictures sitcom antics. Kay Francis overacts but is never given any good lines, forced too often to simply react to the bubbly, aggressive Deanna.

The first section of the film offers the flavorful ambiance of a theatrical milieu, both Broadway and regional theatre, but then, after Deanna's offered the part of St. Anne, the action shifts to a cruise ship, where Deanna meets Pidgeon, and finally to Hawaii where she reunites with Mom. Once Deanna boards the ship, she leaves behind her quirky boyfriend Freddy, an aspiring actor played by the funny Lewis Howard, who then disappears from the movie. Freddy has a great bit early on where he tries to impress a casting director by acting like a 'dope fiend' which is what he thought Deanna said when she told him to try out for the part of the Dauphin. He starts going into withdrawal tics, rubbing his nose and scratching his arms, a daring bit at a time when the Production Code strictly forbade drug references.

Norman Krasna's script (from a 'story' credited to three writers) offers plenty of bright dialogue and funny bits, but the shifts in setting make it play like three movies crammed into one. William Seiter's heavy-handed direction seems more intent on showing off the lavish (for Universal) sets and less on showing off the actors, giving a bloated feel to the whole enterprise. Deanna's earlier films were leaner, zippier and bursting at the seams with youthful energy. The soundtrack is short on original songs and big on choral standards: Deanna's big numbers are 'Loch Lomond' and 'Ave Maria.'

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