Nice Girl? (1941)

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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 1941
Running Time 93:42
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By William A. Seiter

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Deanna Durbin
Franchot Tone
Walter Brennan
Robert Stack
Robert Benchley
Helen Broderick
Ann Gillis
Anne Gwynne
Elizabeth Risdom
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Charles Previn
Stephen Foster

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 Yes, Walter Brennan delivers mail in 90 second take.

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

Plot Synopsis


    By 1940 Universal had established a regular pattern of releasing two Deanna Durbin features per year. Sadly the two offerings for 1940, It's A Date and Spring Parade, the latter containing two of the sopranos biggest hits Waltzing In The Clouds and It's Foolish But It's Fun, are not included in Roadshow's local release of the nineteen disc The Deanna Durbin Collection. It's A Date, which also featured Walter Pidgeon and Kay Francis, was purchased from Universal by MGM and remade in 1950 as Nancy Goes To Rio with Jane Powell and Ann Sothern. I suspect that there is a similar explanation for the absence of Spring Parade, the movie which reunited the soprano with two men with whom she had previously worked so well, Robert Cummings (Three Smart Girls Grow Up) and Mischa Auer (100 Men And A Girl). These are unfortunate holes in the Durbin catalogue, but we pick up again with Nice Girl?, released in February 1941, a piece of joyous light entertainment which has Deanna, no longer a bouncy teenager, blossoming finally into lovely young womanhood. Deanna was out of the mansions of most of her previous films, living in small town USA, older, more knowing, ready for the 40s ... and ready for a man.

    The movie opens with a ninety second take, behind the credits, of the postman, Hector Titus (Walter Brennan), walking through the main street of  "small town" USA delivering the mail. This single take is very nicely executed and introduces us to the parochial setting of the screenplay, by Richard Connell and Gladys Lehman, based on Phyllis Duganne's play of the same name. In the grand tradition of American cinema, the plot concerns three young females, this time three sisters, Deanna Durbin, Anne Gwynne and Ann Gillis, daughters of Professor Oliver Wendell Holmes Dana (Robert Benchley). The Professor is visited by a New York representative of a Scientific Foundation, Richard Calvert (Franchot Tone), much to the delight of the three girls. Calvert is soon to return to "the wilds of Australia" to complete his studies there, and entertains the girls with stories of his previous encounters with the Australian pygmies !?! Deanna decides to test her newly found womanly charms on the older man, and potentially risqué situations develop, to the embarrassment of Calvert and the potential destruction of Deanna's small town reputation. The modern young woman ultimately comes to her senses and returns to the brawny arms of her small town beau (Robert Stack),  reuniting the star with her waltzing/kissing partner from First Love. William A. Seiter, who had directed It's A Date the previous year, handles everything with the lightest of touches, and this, combined with the charm and ingenuousness of Durbin, partnered beautifully by the urbane sophistication of Francot Tone, resulted in a delightful, insubstantial entertainment. Released prior to the USA's entry into World War II, there are one or two references in the script that reflect the state of the world in 1939, such as when Benchley looks down the lens and meaningfully says "we are a free people". This, and the patriotic finale, aside, the general tone is as light as a cloud.

    Every cast member is first rate, with Brennan - in 1941 to win his third Oscar - nicely teamed with Helen Broderick as the object of his affections. Excellent work also from Elizabeth Risdon, Nana BryantAnn Gillis as the youngest man-hungry sister and famed radio and literary wit Robert Benchley ( father of Jaws author Peter Benchley) as Professor Dana. Robert Stack successfully modified his glamour boy looks by getting greasy and handsomely wearing a singlet. Franchot Tone's scenes with Miss Durbin are sharp and funny, and anyone who persists in believing that she "can't act" should take a look at one little instance from this film, from around 38:34. She is so fresh and seemingly spontaneous. Was it written? Directed? Improvised? It is impossible to tell.

    The musical offerings are exceptional. There is the cute Perhaps, when we first see Deanna as she tends to the animals, Beneath the Lights of Home, corny, but the soprano looking great with her 1940s Betty Grable curls on her forehead, Old Folks at Home, most beautifully sung, staged and photographed - Joseph Valentine again -with Deanna singing from a pontoon, and the patriotic finale I Give My Thanks to America. In the UK an alternate ending featured There'll Always Be An England, photographed in extreme close-up. Happily this print of the film features both songs. What an impact this ending must have had on English audiences. From 1939 to 1942 Deanna Durbin was the number one female box office star in the UK. She was also Winston Churchill's favourite actress, the English wartime leader regularly requesting private screenings of her films prior to their release.

    In Nice Girl? Deanna Durbin blasts into the 40s. The movie is a refreshing combination of family and romantic comedy with Deanna moving effortlessly into young adulthood. With a moving nod to then current world events, Nice Girl?  provides ninety minutes of pure escapist entertainment.

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Transfer Quality


    Nice Girl? was made approximately sixty-eight years ago. This transfer looks exceptionally good making for a very enjoyable viewing experience.
    The image is presented in a 4x3 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the original presentation having been 1.37:1.
    The image is steady, very sharp and clean  with no low level noise.
    There is a very small amount of grain and a very pleasing grey scale. Blacks are deep and there are no flaring whites.
    The image is not quite up to the excellent quality of First Love, but it is still extremely good.
    The only film to video artefact I observed was some aliasing on Franchot Tone's tie (25:55).
    Film artefacts are limited to the intermittent white fleck, but there is nothing that is distracting.
    Reel cues are still evident, so this appears to be a print that just happens to be in very good condition.

    There are no subtitles and the disc is single layered.

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


    The audio is also in very good condition.
    There is only one language, English, in a Dolby Digital 2.0 reproduction of the original mono Western Electric Noiseless Recording.
    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 which is barely audible and does not intrude at all.
     There is also the occasional crackle or pop, but these comments aside, the quality of the sound is extremely good, sharp and vibrant, the original musical scoring by Charles Previn sounding most attractive. There is only the slightest 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 as a whole.
     There are no dropouts.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The box set of nineteen movies on nineteen discs contains a Sixteen Page Souvenir Booklet.
    Apart from this booklet and the Stills Galleries on five of the titles - no gallery on Nice Girl? - there are no other extras on the entire nineteen discs, not even a trailer. The reverse of the slick for Nice Girl contains small reproductions of four stills.
    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 audio of Deanna Durbin singing a few bars of There'll Always Be An England from the film's finale.
    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 Nice Girl? in Region 1.
    The nineteen titles box set is available in Region 2 where it is more than double the Australian price. Nice Girl? is also available separately or in The Deanna Durbin Collection : Box 3, which also includes Hers to Hold, Up In Central Park, It Started With Eve and His Butler's Sister.


     Nice Girl? has the freshly "grown up" Deanna Durbin as the predatory young woman, after older man Franchot Tone, with hunky young Robert Stack back home waiting for her.A joyful romantic comedy plus musical entertainment for a world under the cloud of war. An extremely good transfer with good sound.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Thursday, March 13, 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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