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Mismatched WomenThe Siren's Song Through the Machine$
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Jennifer Fleeger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199936892

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199936892.001.0001

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Opera in Synch

Opera in Synch

Deanna Durbin and Musical Playback

(p.78) Chapter 3 Opera in Synch
Mismatched Women

Jennifer Fleeger

Oxford University Press

Beginning in 1936, teenaged Deanna Durbin made twenty-one features for Universal Pictures before retiring from the screen in 1948. Durbin’s second feature, One Hundred Men and a Girl, used multiple-channel recording and lip-synching, belying the image of a young girl standing in front of an orchestra full of men at symphony hall. The ideal sound of the resulting track paired with this scene that perfectly illustrates Durbin’s youth and the strange maturity of her voice lurks behind every film she made thereafter, attesting to the standardization of prerecording and refusing to let the little girl grow up. The chapter analyzes Durbin’s career in relation to American conceptions of adolescence and the nation’s entry into the Second World War, both of which shaped how the star was received by the public and the value of the mismatched woman for classical Hollywood cinema.

Keywords:   Deanna Durbin, opera, playback, adolescence, Universal Pictures, classical Hollywood cinema, One Hundred Men and a Girl

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