His Butler's Sister (1943)

Film Review

HIS BUTLER'S SISTER

Release Date: 26 November, 1943

Studio: Universal

Director: Frank Borzage

Starring: Deanna Durbin, Franchot Tone, Pat O'Brien

Synopsis

Martin Murphy has a pleasant job as butler to famed composer Charles Girard. Ann Carter, Martin's sister, unexpectantly arrives to visit him. She expects to stay with him as she auditions for jobs as a singer. As he is trying to get her to go home, his boss comes in and thinks she is the new maid. She accepts the position. Ann wants to audition for Girard, but when she gets a chance to sing he thinks it is a singer on the radio. Girard's girlfriend, Elizabeth, wants him to leave songwriting and come with her to Maine. Ann convinces him that he would never be able to compose again if he left now.

Ann meets other butlers employed in the apartment complex. They are enamored of her and follow her around. She goes to a birthday party for Popoff, one of the butlers. She sings several songs for them. Girard, who is also enamored of her, follows her to the party but is too late to hear her sing. They dance and walk home holding hands. As they walk they admit their love, and by the time they are home, they are kissing ardently. Martin is angry that she left with Girard whom he feels is using her. When she refuses to go home, he plots to force her to go. He lies to Girard and tells him that Ann was using him to get ahead. Girard, who does not know their relationship, believes that Ann is carrying on with Martin and rebuffs her. She is preparing to go home but decides to go to the Butler's Ball first. Girard cannot reject her and goes to the ball where his cook enlightens him about the true relationship between Martin and Ann. After finally hearing her sing, he realizes that hers is the voice he heard and admired previously. They happily embrace.

Discussion

This charming comedy nicely showcases Deanna Durbin's talents. In addition to her fine singing voice, she was a talented and engaging comedienne. She holds her own, not only with expert comedians Pat O'Brien and Franchot Tone, but also with an array of experienced character actors (including Akim Tamaroff and Alan Mowbray) who play butlers attracted to the pretty, young maid. Her romantic interactions with Tone are delicate and sweet. Two years earlier in Nice Girl? (1941), Tone was the older man to whom she was attracted, but she ends up with the much younger Robert Stack. Presumably by 1943 Durbin had matured sufficiently to match up with him.