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Subject: Re: Deanna Durbin's box office supremacy: was: Re: Lily Pons
From: Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Rich Lowenthal <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 10 Nov 2018 20:36:09 +0000

text/plain (135 lines)

It's not quite accurate to describe the original release of Wizard of Oz 
as a complete box office failure--it's true that the film's revenues 
were less than the costs, primarily because MGM spent a lot on the film, 
but fantasy was considered a risky genre (as it would continue to be, 
pretty much until Star Wars), and the film actually did far better than 
was expected. The economics of the film business were very different 
then since the studios owned the distribution networks (the theaters). 
Box office receipts were often reported as compared to "normal" 
business; Wizard of Oz did 156% of a normal film and was the #9 movie of 
the year. Most importantly from MGM's perspective, it helped turn Judy 
Garland into a star; her salary was increased afterwards, turning her 
into one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. Obviously over time 
the film turned into a huge success; it's been estimated that it is the 
most viewed film ever.

As far as Deanna Durbin goes, James is quite right that she was a huge 
star--even more popular than Shirley Temple. There were Deanna Durbin 
dolls and clothing--but she hated the life of a star and chose to leave 
show business, probably one reason she's no longer well remembered.

------ Original Message ------
From: "donald kane" <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 11/10/2018 6:42:17 AM
Subject: Re: Deanna Durbin's box office supremacy: was: Re: Lily Pons

>It would not have been the first time a "timeless masterpiece"
>had to wait to earn full recognition, would it?  Besides, the director
>of WIZARD, Victor Fleming, who may have been moonlighting from
>his duties on another 1939 blockbuster starring one of the  real Kings
>of Hollywood at the time, (no not Mickey Rooney) must have been on to
>something with Miss Garland.
>I was a movie nut at the time, with juvenile admission at ten cents,
>I had no trouble seeing 5 or 6 pictures a week - double features
>being the established norm at the time.  But I can't tell you how 
>off  I was every time Deanna Durbin turned up; even 100 MEN AND A
>GIRL made me cringe - she shrieked her dialogue and she shrieked
>her songs; the Philadelphia Orchestra  under Leopold Stokowski
>couldn't drown her out.  I had a slightly older friend who loved her, 
>he died a long time ago.
>BTW, there were two Oscars  for the music of WIZARD OF OZ, one for
>"Over the Rainbow" by Harold Arlen, well deserved, and the other for
>Score" by Herbert Stothart.  The latter is an eternal stain on the 
>of the
>Motion Picture Academy Awards, in the year that Max Steiner's 
>masterpiece was nominated.  That stain was actually only half of the
>the other being recognition of Robert Donat's silly posturing instead 
>Gable's  triumphant Rhett Butler.
>I hear the outcry - Back to Opera!
>On Sat, Nov 10, 2018 at 2:57 AM James Camner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>The Wizard of Oz - a timeless masterpiece, it must have been instantly
>>successful, right?
>>Ah, but The Wizard of Oz was a complete box office failure in 1939. It
>>would not be
>>successful for twenty years until it played on television:
>>"The irony is that the movie was a box-office failure when it was 
>>released by Metro-
>>Goldwyn-Mayer in August 1939. Budgeted at an immense $2 million - the
>>average big
>>budget M-G-M movie cost $1.5 million in 1939 - ''The Wizard of Oz''
>>actually cost
>>$2,777,000. It didn't make its money back for nearly 20 years.Mar 16, 
>>Deanna Durbin's films were much more successful than Garland's. 
>>with "Three
>>Smart Girls" in 1936, Durbin had hit after hit and was among the  
>>paid women in
>>Hollywood throughout her prime in the 1940s. Durbin made so much money 
>>that she is credited with saving the studio from Bankruptcy.
>>According to Wikipedia referencing Variety: "In 1946, Durbin was the
>>second-highest paid
>>woman in the United States, just behind Bette Davis,and in 1947, she 
>>the top-salaried
>>woman in the United States. Her fan club ranked as the world's largest
>>during her active
>>Unquestionably Garland had better new songs to sing than Durbin; 
>>the box office
>>disaster that "The Wizard of Oz" was, "Over The Rainbow" won the 1939
>>Academy Award.
>>But none of that stopped Durbin from being a far bigger star even 
>>she had to
>>content herself with such drivel as "Nessun Dorma" :)
>>James Camner

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