It’s a Date (1940)

Georgia (Kay Francis) and her daughter, Pamela (Deanna Durbin), are both performers. Georgia is an aging actress who is losing her popularity, while young and peppy Pamela is just getting started in her stage career.

Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin are mother and daughter in this musical. (Image via kayfrancisfilms.com)
Kay Francis and Deanna Durbin are mother and daughter in this musical. (Image via kayfrancisfilms.com)

Desperate to find success as an actress, Pamela gets a hold of director Sidney Simpson (Samuel S. Hinds) and writer Carl Ober (S. Z. Sakall) at the closing party of her mother’s latest play. She convinces them to watch her perform, in hopes that they’ll cast her in something.

Impressed with Pam’s skill as an actress and her determination to succeed, Georgia’s colleagues decide to offer Pam the title role in their new play, St. Anne.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)
(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Little does Pam know, she’s stealing this role from her mother. And without that knowledge, Pam travels to Honolulu to be coached by her mother, who is spending six weeks there in preparation for the role of St. Anne.

On her way to Honolulu via ocean liner, Pamela catches the eye of John Arlen, the pineapple king (Walter Pidgeon), and the two become fast friends. But when John begins to fall for Georgia upon arrival in Hawaii, Pamela and her mother will be fighting over stage roles and men.

William A. Seiter directs 1940’s It’s a Date. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures and was written by Norman Krasna. Nancy Goes to Rio, released in 1950, is a remake of this film starring Ann Sothern and Jane Powell.

I’ve seen shamefully few of Deanna Durbin’s films but have always liked her in the films I have watched from her filmography, so I jumped at the chance to see this when it popped up on TCM’s streamig service in January.

Her performance here is very good. She’s spunky and has fantastic screen presence. It’s a bit difficult to buy her and Kay Francis and daughter and mother, but both actresses are fun to watch in It’s a Date.

(Image via fanpix.net)
(Image via fanpix.net)

As charismatic as Durbin is, something I always notice when I watch her films is that her songs me incredibly sleepy. Her voice is undeniably beautiful,  but something about it just makes me want to tumble down into snoozetown. Perhaps it’s too pretty, too relaxing to listen to compared to what I usually assault my ears with. I came close to nodding off a few times during the musical numbers. (Mind you, I did watch the film after a long day of coursework, so perhaps Durbin’s voice can’t take all of the blame.) The film is peppered with quite a few songs and they’re all nice to listen to, despite my own tendency to doze.

I expected more dramatic flair and sass from the story here, since Pamela and her mother are facing off both in their careers and in their personal lives. Still, It’s a Date is a decent watch. The cast is full of talented folks and they make the film worth watching for the purpose of light entertainment. The score: 3.5/5

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3 thoughts on “It’s a Date (1940)

  1. I’ve seen a handful of Deanna Durbin films, and have liked her all of them, but I can’t remember if ‘It’s a Date’ was one of those few I’ve seen (if it is, I saw it years ago, back when AMC was cool, and remember nothing about it). I did like ‘Lady on a Train’, though…less music, more noir!

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