That Certain Age (1938)

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Released 7-Nov-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1938
Running Time 96:47
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Edward Ludwig

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Deanna Durbin
Melvyn Douglas
Jackie Cooper
Irene Rich
Nancy Carroll
John Halliday
Jack Searl
Grant Mitchell
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Jimmy McHugh
Charles Adamson
Charle Previn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis


" I wish there was a navy for girls to join!"

    The fourth movie in Roadshow's local release of the nineteen disc The Deanna Durbin Collection is That Certain Age. When the film was released in the United States in October 1938 its star was still sixteen and on her way to being the highest paid woman in America. On paper That Certain Age sounds like any other "teenagers putting on a show plus adolescent crush" movie from the Golden Age. However Universal continued to present their blossoming young star in productions that were immaculate, and the result is a movie that is as fresh today as it was in 1938.

    Handsome glob-trotting star reporter Vincent Bullitt (Melvyn Douglas) has just returned from an overseas assignment, world weary and exhausted. The publisher of his newspaper, Gilbert Fullerton (John Halliday) insists that Vincent needs a good rest and invites the exhausted journalist to his country estate for peace, quiet and recreation. Gilbert and Elizabeth Fullerton (Irene Rich) have an adolescent daughter, Alice (Deanna Durbin), who is in the midst of rehearsals for the local teenagers' annual theatrical event, directed by  Kenneth Warren (Jackie Cooper), who has a crush on Alice. When the arrival of the tranquillity seeking Vincent threatens their show, a plan is devised to get rid of the guest. After a very amusing sequence in which the teenagers attempt to convince Vincent that his room is haunted, Alice develops a crush on the considerably older Vincent and what happens from then on is totally predictable, right through to the finale with the opening night of the show. But, as the song says : "It's not watcha do, it's the way that ya do it!".

    Starting with an original story by F.Hugh Herbert (Sitting Pretty), the fast moving screenplay resulted from a collaboration between Bruce Manning, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. The opening scene in the publisher's office reflects the state of the world in 1938 with references to The League of Nations, war and peace, culminating with Douglas saying "the world's getting old". After this bit of social and political comment the screenplay makes the occasional reference to the world situation, with Cooper joining the navy, but for the most part it is amusing, often funny and avoids being overly sentimental. The scenes between Douglas and Durbin are clever and amusing, while those between Durbin and Cooper are fresh and sweet.

    Under the guidance of a new director, Edward Ludwig, Deanna Durbin is at her most appealing, looking lovely and sounding fantastic. Has there ever been another soprano whose diction is so clear and natural? Just listen to My Own, which was a HUGE hit at the time. Every word is as clear as a bell! In addition, her acting talents have been vastly under appreciated. Perhaps in the 1930s her naturalness was regarded as gauche and awkward, but today it is just this underplaying, this often off handed delivery that makes her lines ring true. She was a very accomplished young actress - at least in this kind of fare.

    The remainder of the cast is excellent. Melvyn Douglas is flawless. What an actor he was, finally winning an Oscar twenty-five year later for Hud. Irene Rich, who had been a big star in the silent era, looks wonderful in the Vera West gowns and young Juanita Quigley is a great "Butch". Jackie Cooper is amazingly good as the love smitten Kenneth, the kind of role that in other movies of the 30s and 40s often turned into overplayed maudlin sentimentality. Then in the final minutes we get a glimpse of the still startlingly pretty Nancy Carroll, another much-loved star of the silents. Trivia: Bess Flowers, Queen of the Hollywood extras, once again appears in high society (73:20).

   Jimmy McHugh and Hugh Adamson returned to write the new songs for Deanna, which include the forgettable That Certain Age and Be a Good Scout as well as the two gems, You're As Pretty As A Picture and My Own, the last with exceptionally lovely closeups. Melvyn Douglas even does an a capella duet of Daisy with Deanna on a tandem! The classical offerings this time round are Juliet's Waltz from Romeo and Juliet (Gounod) and Les Filles de Cadiz (Delibes). There is even more musical pleasure in the original score by Charles Previn, beautifully orchestrated by Frank Skinner. Listen to the lovely underscoring of a short sequence for "Butch" (62:00 to 62:50) and the pool scene with Jackie Cooper's great shot - pre CGI (around 48:00).

     I had read the outline of this movie and thought : "Here comes the dud!" Was I wrong! Every ingredient of this family fluff is perfection. There is a nod or two to the clouds building on the horizon, but That Certain Age is wonderful, feel good entertainment.

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Transfer Quality


     This film is seventy years old and the transfer looks exceptionally good. A friend came into them room while I was watching the movie and said, "Wow! That looks good!"  
     The image is presented in a 4x3 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the original presentation having been 1.37:1
     There has been some cleaning-up of the image, as no reel cues are in evidence.
     There is the occasional white fleck (33:00) but it was difficult to find a film blemish.
     The image is very steady and has a pleasing "film" look, like seeing an "old"  black and white movie projected in a cinema.
     With the exception of slightly soft-focus close-ups, the image is pleasingly very sharp, clear and with little grain.
     Shadow detail is very good, there is no low level noise, and there is a very nice grey scale. There are no flaring whites and blacks are solid.
     This would be the best overall image yet seen in this collection, at times a pleasure just to look at.
    The disc is single layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The seventy year old audio track is remarkably good, allowing total enjoyment of the musical feast provided.
    There is only one audio track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 reproduction of the original mono Western Electric Noiseless Recording, which was Oscar nominated.
    The dialogue is clear and sharp with not one syllable indistinct and no sync problems. Deanna Durbin's visuals match the pre-recorded vocals perfectly.
    There appears to be no doctoring of the soundtrack at all. There is at times a very slight background rumble, only audible at high volumes. I was more aware of the rumble when it stopped. There is also the occasional crackle or pop.These comments aside, the quality of the sound is extremely good, sharp and vibrant, the original musical scoring sounding most attractive. There is very slight distortion on the loudest vocal passages, but I would rather have these very slight "imperfections", which are in no way distracting, than lose the dynamism of the sound on this disc.
     There are no dropouts.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The box set contains a Sixteen Page Souvenir Booklet.
    Apart from this booklet and the Stills Galleries on five of the titles - no gallery on That Certain Age - there are no other extras on the entire nineteen discs, not even a trailer. The reverse of the slick for That Certain Age contains small reproductions of five stills and a publicity sheet.
    The picture disc reproduces the title's cover.
    There are no subtitles.


    All menu screens are 4x3.

    The main menu design is extremely basic. The screen comprises two stills from the film, with orchestral music from the credits of the film.
    The options are :
        Play Film
        Scene Index: Selecting this option gives a new screen with two further stills and a list of ten scenes. No thumbnails, no sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


    There is no current release of That Certain Age in Region 1.
    The nineteen titles box set is available in Region 2 where it is more than double the Australian price. Individual titles, including That Certain Age, are available separately.


     A combination of "let's put on a show" and the teenager infatuated with the older man genres, That Certain Age is great entertainment. Deanna Durbin and Melvyn Douglas are perfect together and the rest of the cast are excellent, as are the production values. This is a definite ten and a "must see" for anyone who loves movies.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, March 10, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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