Oscar Movies: Mad About Music (1938)–Musical Comedy Starring Deanna Durbin

In this musical comedy, popular star Deanna Durbin plays a girl with a lively imagination, who gets in trouble when she tries to realize her fantasy tales.

This was the third of Universal’s star vehicles for Deanna Durbin, which also include “One Hundred Men and a Girl,” in 1937.

Durbin’s Gloria Harkinson is the teenage daughter of Gwen Taylor (Gail Patrick), a Hollywood actress who has sent Gloria off to a boarding school in Switzerland to keep the girl out of the public eye.

The motivation is not so pure: It’s partly for Gloria’s well being, but mostly because Gwen would prefer people not to know that she’s old enough to have a teenage daughter.  (Which is one reason why movie star Norma Shearer had never played an onscreen mother…)

Meanwhile, Gloria amuses herself, earning the adoration of her schoolmates when she begins spinning remarkable tales about the adventures of her millionaire father.

However, in reality Gloria has no father, and after some time, her friends become skeptical and demand evidence that he exists—or else expose her as a liar.  After meeting Richard Todd (Herbert Marshall), a British composer, she asks him if he wouldn’t mind posing as her dad so that her friends could meet her father. Richard agrees, but, of course, the scheme goes wrong.

“Mad About Music” was remade as a non-musical drama, “The Toy Tiger” (1956), in which Gloria became a young boy named Timmie.

Oscar nominations:

Original Story: Marcella Burke and Frederick Kohner

Cinematography: Joseph Valentine

Interior Decoration: Jack Otterson

Score: Charles Previn and Fred Skinner

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Original Story Oscar was “Boys Town,” co-written by Dore Schary and Eleanor Griffin.

Joseph Ruttenberg received the Cinematography Oscar for ”The Great Waltz,” and Carl J. Wehl the Art Direction for “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”

Alfred Newman won the Score Oscar for “Älexander’s Ragtime Band.”

Running time: 98 Minutes.

Directed by Norman Taurog

DVD: February 6, 1996