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Posted November 09, 2010 to photo album "Father-Daughter Movies"
Inspired by Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, resident film historian David Parkinson looks back over the history of films that focus on father-daughter relationships.
Slide 2: The Father in Need - Three Smart Girls (1936)
Henry Koster's musical comedy Three Smart Girls revolves around the relationship between a father and his three daughters, who race from Switzerland to Manhattan in order to rescue him from the clutches of a seductive gold-digger. Ultimately, however, the focus falls on one daughter – Deanna Durbin, a teenage singing sensation who proved such a hit with moviegoers that she saved the struggling Universal Studios from bankruptcy. At the time, Variety wrote, “Miss Durbin stands out not only as a `darling child' personality, but as a winsome little dramatic actress whose talents do not end with an ability to hit the high registers.” Durbin's debut feature established her with the public as a Little Miss Fix-it. Yet she also played a similar role offscreen, albeit with the help of the studio publicity department. James Durbin had married his wife Ada in Lancashire, England and they already had one daughter, Edith, by the time the emigrated to Canada. Edna Mae was born in Winnipeg in 1921, but she was raised in Southern California, where James worked as a machinist. However, this solid trade wasn't chic enough for the Universal front office and the newly christened Deanna's dad was described as a blacksmith in her first press releases. Unsure what to say if he was approached by a reporter, Durbin was informed "you're a real estate broker. Everyone in Los Angeles is.” Yet when Deanna became a star, he was billed as a stockbroker, who had been forced to relocate to sunnier climes because of his health. In fact, he lived into his nineties and Deanna remained a devoted daughter long after she ceased fixing things for her on-screen fathers.