It Started With Eve (1941)

Film Review

IT STARTED WITH EVE

Release Date: 26 December, 1941

Studio: Universal

Director: Henry Koster

Starring: Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton, Robert Cummings

Synopsis

Jonathon Reynolds is dying, and he wants to meet his son's fiance before he dies. Jonathon Jr. cannot find her because she has gone shopping. Desperate to gratify his father's last wish, he asks a hat check girl, Ann Terry, to come home with him and pose as his fiance. Anne, sweet and pretty, charms Mr. Reynolds. The next morning Mr. Reynolds health has improved, and he wants to see the young woman. Johnny stops her from boarding a train to Ohio and takes her to his father. The doctor says Mr. Reynolds' condition is too delicate to handle the disclosure of the true fiance. After she sings for Mr. Reynolds, he plans a party to announce the engagement and allow her to sing for important musical guests. Johnny does not want her to appear at a party and be introduced as his fiance. He gives her money and says he will tell his father that they had an argument and separated. However, Ann wants to sing for the people who can aid her career. She comes to the Reynolds' house and pretends to plead with Johnny to take her back. His father is delighted, but Johnny is angry. When she sits on the sofa with him pretending to make up, he grabs her and kisses her ardently. She responds by biting him, he bites her back and pinches her, and soon he is chasing her around the room. During the chase, she says that she will tell Mr. Reynolds the truth after the party. Ann and Johnny do not know that Mr. Reynolds overhears her. Immediately sorry for continuing the deception, she goes to tell him the truth, but cannot. Anne and Johnny agree she will not come to the party and will tell his father that she has a headache.

The day of the party, Mr. Reynolds talks to her on the phone, and she says she does not want to see him again. He goes to her apartment and says he wants to see her again before she goes home. He tells her they will go to a place where nobody knows him to say goodbye. She goes, but he takes her to a nightclub where everyone knows him. They are dancing when Johnny and the doctor come. The doctor tells Mr. Reynolds that he must go home to bed, and Johnny accuses Ann of taking advantage of his father. She throws a large drink on him. The next morning Ann is about to board the train when Johnny comes running up saying that his father is really dying now. They rush back to find the doctor collapsed and the father healthy. Johnny's fiance has returned to Mexico in disgust. Johnny and Ann start to fight, then apologize to each other and make up. Johnny is sorry he pinched her in front of his father and promises not to pinch her again. They start to kiss, and she jumps hollering "Johnny" as he pinches her. His father grins happily.

Discussion

This pleasant comedy pairs Deanna Durbin with Robert Cummings for comic romance. Cummings was an experienced and engaging light comedian who compliments and enhances Durbin's character. Laughton's character acts as a matchmaker Cummings and Durbin. Durbin plays the straight man to Laughton's seriocomic old man. Laughton in aging makeup progresses from the verge of death to doing the mambo. Part of the comedy involves Laughton's doctor (played by veteran actor Walter Catlett) attempting to prevent him from doing things (such as smoking a cigar, eating rich food, or dancing) that would harm his health, and Laughton doing them anyway but hiding the actions from doctor and son.