It Started with Eve

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.[3] The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Music Score (Charles Previn and Hans J. Salter).[4] 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.

It Started with Eve
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHenry Koster
Produced byJoe Pasternak
Screenplay by
Story byHanns Kräly
Starring
Music byHans J. Salter
CinematographyRudolph Maté
Edited byBernard W. Burton
Production
company
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • September 26, 1941 (1941-09-26) (USA)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1,166,000[1] or $1,250,000[2]
Box office$2,264,300[1]

Plot

The millionaire Jonathan Reynolds is dying. His son Johnny returns from Mexico City to the deathbed of his father. From Dr. Harvey, he learns that his father does not have much time to live and that his last wish is to get to know Johnny's future wife. Johnny drives quickly to his hotel to find his fiancé, Gloria Pennington. But there he learns that Gloria has left with her mother. Desperate to fulfill his father's wish, he asks the young Anne Terry if she could play Gloria for an evening. She agrees and goes with Johnny.

On the contrary, the old Jonathan feels much better than expected the next morning. He asks if he can see his son's fiancé once again. Dr. Harvey is concerned about the health of his patient and asks Johnny to continue playing with the wrong Gloria. But Anne Terry wants to leave for her hometown in Ohio. Johnny catches her at the last minute at the station. When he comes home with Anne, Gloria and her mother have suddenly appeared there. Johnny tries to explain the situation. The opera singer, Anne, learns that old Jonathan has good contacts with the New York opera world and wants to take advantage of this opportunity. She makes the suggestion to give a party for the old Jonathan, where she can give a sample of her vocal ability. Johnny agrees but wants to introduce his father the right Gloria. He wants to tell the father that he and Gloria (Anne) are separated and his new girlfriend is the right Gloria. Anne asks him to wait until after the party; however, Johnny refuses.

The next evening, Johnny informs his father about the separation. At this moment, Anne falls in and asks Johnny's forgiveness. Johnny is almost forced by his father to forgive her. When Jonathan leaves the room, he learns the true story through the ensuing loud dispute between Anne and Johnny. Gloria and her mother are now fully satisfied. Again, they see Johnny with Anne, and Johnny's mouth is covered by lipstick marks. Now, it is enough for mother and daughter, so they leave again.

Finally comes the party. Jonathan is back in good health, and Johnny comes to the party with Gloria and her mother. He tells his father that Anne has a headache and cannot attend. Jonathan then sets off for Anne. He tells her that he knows the true story but wants to go out with her one last time. They go to a nightclub where they drink and dance together. When Johnny and Dr. Harvey come to the nightclub, she pours Johnny's drink in his face and leaves the pub.

The next day, Johnny catches Anne once again at the station to tell her that his father had once again had a heart attack and wanted to see her. When they arrive to the Jonathan's mansion, they realize that the heart attack was only pretended. He just wanted to bring Johnny and Anne back together. The two recognize their true feelings for each other, the fact that Jonathan takes with pleasure. He draws back enjoyably and smokes a forbidden cigar.

Cast

Production

Development

The film was originally known as Almost an Angel. Joe Pasternak announced he would make Almost an Angel in 1938 as a vehicle for Danielle Darrieux. Ralph Bock and Frederick Kohner wrote a script.[6] Then in 1939 Franciscka Gaal was announced as star.[7]

The film was eventually never made - the title was transferred to another project by Pasternak in December 1940 which would become It Started with Eve. Henry Koster was directed and L Fodor and Norman Krasna wrote the script.[8]

In February 1941 Charles Laughton signed on.[9] The following month Deanna Durbin agreed to co-star; plans to put her in Ready to Romance with Charles Boyer were abandoned.[10]

Shooting

Filming started 27 May 1941, just after Durbin returned from honeymoon for her first marriage.[11]

Pasternak announced during filming that he would be leaving Universal after 16 years.[12] He later wrote about it in her memoirs:

I called her into my office and told her why it had to be and why I was leaving. It was the only time in our years together I saw her weep. "You can't," she said. "You can't do this to me." But I had my personal reasons, and they did not all concern her and I said I must. It was not easy to talk to her because a lot of water had flowed under the bridge. She had her life to live now and it could not be the same as before. She said some nice things and ran out of the office. [13]

In October 1941 Koster said this was the toughest film he had ever worked on. He had an argument with Norman Krasna which resulted in Krasna quitting the film with 40 pages still to be written. Richard Carle died after working in the picture for three weeks. He was in every scene and they all had to be shot again with Walter Catlett in the role. Then Durbin became ill for four weeks; the shot around her for five days then had to stop production. When she came back Laughton fell ill and there was another delay. An electrician fell from a scaffolding on the set and broke a leg and another was burned. Pasternak signed to go to MGM and Koster was getting divorced.[14]

Koster later said he thought Durbin looked at her most beautiful in this film because of Rudolph Mate's photography.[15]

Filming did not finish until September. Cummings had to go work on King's Row during the shoot.[16]

Reception

In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther called the film "light and unpretentious fare" and "should please—as they say—both young and old. It's the perfect '8-to-80' picture."[17] Crowther singled out the performances of Charles Laughton, who plays cupid, and Deanna Durbin. Crowther wrote:

Henry Koster, who directed the picture and has directed most of Miss Durbin's better films, certainly knew how to get the best out of Mr. Laughton, that man of great renown. For this is one of the sharpest performances the old boy has given in years ... Mr. Laughton plays with flavor, mischief, humor and great inventiveness. He knows how an old man would behave—and he never carries it too far. Under a perfect make-up, you'd hardly know it was Mr. Laughton—which is saying a lot.[17]

Regarding Durbin's performance, Crowther wrote, "Miss Durbin is as refreshing and pretty as she has ever been and sings three assorted songs—including a Tchaikovsky waltz—with lively charm."[17]

Durbin later said the film "was handed to Charles Laughton. He was marvellous in the picture and the fact that we remained very close friends even though we were both aware of "Eve" being a Laughton not a Durbin film, shows how fond we were of each other."[18]

Awards and nominations

References

  1. Three smart guys: How a few penniless German émigrés saved Universal Studios Asper, Helmut; Horak, Jan-Christopher. Film History; New York Vol. 11, Iss. 2, (Jan 1, 1999): 134.
  2. "United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit - Universal vs Cummings 1944". Internet Archive. p. 94.
  3. "It Started with Eve". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  4. "Awards for It Started with Eve". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  5. "Full cast and crew for It Started with Eve". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  6. Schallert, E. (1938, Aug 23). "Almost an angel" set for danielle darrieux. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/164823856
  7. Schallert, E. (1939, Jul 05). DRAMA. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/165047685
  8. By DOUGLAS W CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1940, Dec 12). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105324518
  9. Universal plans program including 61 major offerings. (1941, Feb 11). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/165231082
  10. By DOUGLAS W CHURCHILLSpecial to THE NEW,YORK TIMES. (1941, Mar 21). Deanna durbin to appear with charles laughton in 'almost an angel' at universal. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/105520415
  11. Schallert, E. (1941, May 28). Koster will continue as durbin film guide. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/165141421
  12. By DOUGLAS W CHURCHILLS (1941, Jun 07). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/106040730
  13. Pasternak, Joe (1956). Easy the Hard Way. Putnam. p. 182.
  14. "Koster Who Used to Be a Painted Will Make Them in Color from Now On". Variety. October 8, 1941. p. 4.
  15. Davis, Ronald L. (2005). Just making movies. University Press of Mississippi. p. 10.
  16. "United States Court of Appeals For the Ninth Circuit - Cummings vs Universal 1944". Internet Archive. p. 567.
  17. Crowther, Bosley (October 3, 1941). "'It Started With Eve,' Featuring Durbin and Laughton". The New York Times. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  18. "Letter from Deanna Durbin". New York University. April 1990.
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