Universal was in deep trouble until Durbin came along. Her popularity is what saved the studio as she made one picture after another and became one of the biggest stars of her era. From 1936 when she made THREE SMART GIRLS until 1947 when she retired after appearing in 21 pictures, she was
the undisputed queen of the San Fernando Valley lot. In SPRING PARADE, producer Pasternak altered her all-American image to remake a movie he'd done in Hungary in 1934, a sweet Viennese story that was as close to being an operetta as a movie could get without Nelson Eddy or Jeanette MacDonald.
Durbin is seen at a fair in Austria where Gargan, a fortune teller, sells her a card that says she will meet an important person and have a happy marriage. The young Hungarian gets a job as a baker's assistant to Sakall (who had just come to the U.S. and was in his second film, after IT'S A DATE).
She next meets Cummings, a drummer corporal with the army who yearns to compose and conduct his own music. He is not allowed to write music due to certain military restrictions, but Durbin sends one of his waltzes to the Emperor, Stephenson, along with the standing royal order of baked goods.
Stephenson is a benevolent monarch, and, when he learns what she's done, he orders a command performance with Durbin singing while Cummings conducts. The picture ends happily as the young lovers are united, and Cummings is acknowledged as a brilliant composer. It's a throwback to days of yore,
long before Hitler marched back into Austria to take it over on behalf of Germany. There is not a shred of reality to the story, but it's so light, engaging, and tuneful that audiences were willing to forget the newspaper headlines and settle back to watch the way it used to be in Vienna. Although
technically a musical, there weren't that many songs. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Score and Best Song--"Waltzing in the Clouds" by Robert Stolz and Gus Kahn. Other musical numbers included "Blue Danube Dream" (music by Johann Strauss, words by Gus
Kahn), "When April Sings," "It's Foolish but It's Fun" (Stolz, Kahn), "In a Spring Parade" (Charles Previn, Kahn), and "The Dawn of Love" (Previn, Ralph Freed), all sung by Durbin. Lyricist Kahn was the subject of a movie, I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, which starred Danny Thomas.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Universal was in deep trouble until Durbin came along. Her popularity is what saved the studio as she made one picture after another and became one of the biggest stars of her era. From 1936 when she made THREE SMART GIRLS until 1947 when she retired after… (more)