Can't Help Singing

Can't Help Singing is a 1944 American musical Western film directed by Frank Ryan and starring Deanna Durbin, Robert Paige, and Akim Tamiroff.[2] Based on a story by John D. Klorer and Leo Townsend, the film is about a senator's daughter who follows her boyfriend West in the days of the California gold rush. Durbin's only Technicolor film, Can't Help Singing was produced by Felix Jackson and scored by Jerome Kern with lyrics by E. Y. Harburg.[3]

Can't Help Singing
Can't Help Singing FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Ryan
Screenplay by
Story by
  • John D. Klorer
  • Leo Townsend
Based onGirl of the Overland Trail
by Samuel J. and Curtis B. Warshawsky
Produced byFelix Jackson
Edited byTed J. Kent
Music byH.J. Salter
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 25, 1944 (1944-12-25)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States

The movie was one of the most expensive in Universal's history.[1]


Set during the early years of the California Gold Rush, the film tells of the adventures of Caroline Frost, the wilful and spoilt daughter of a US Senator. He does not approve of her beau, Lt Robert Latham, of the US cavalry, and persuades President James K. Polk to post Latham to guard gold shipments from the California mines owned by Jake Carstair.

Caroline travels by train and steamboat and manages to join a wagon-train about to trek overland to the West. She shares a wagon with Johnny (Robert Paige), a debonair but ruthless gambler with whom she falls in love, and two comically inept opportunists, Prince Gregory Stroganovsky and his much put-upon servant Koppa.

At first, she tells Johnny she is engaged to Carstair. However, no unattached women are allowed to join the wagon train, so Johnny tells everyone she is married to the Prince and she is forced to go along with the ruse.

Eventually, she eventually reaches Sonora, California. Here, her problems are quickly sorted out. After some confusion between Carstair and his real wife, Caroline decides that she really loves Johnny. Her father, who has followed her, is reconciled.



The film was known as Caroline.[4] Jerome Kern signed to write music in September 1943.[5] In October, Frank Ryan was assigned to direct.[6]

In December Jack Yellen signed to do the script.[7]

In March 1944 the title was changed to Can't Help Singing. David Bruce was cast the same month.[8] Universal had traditionally borrowed leading men to appear opposite Durbin but for this film they used contract players Bruce and Robert Paige.[9]

Filming locationsEdit

  • Johnson Canyon, Cascade Falls, Duck Creek, Strawberry Point, Navajo Lake (Utah), and Cedar Breaks in Utah.[10]: 287 
  • Big Bear Lake, Big Bear Valley, San Bernardino National Forest, California, USA
  • Lake Arrowhead, San Bernardino National Forest, California, USA[11]


Critical responseEdit

The Los Angeles Times called it "delightful".[12] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times said of Durbin's singing as "thoroughly pleasing" and the film "gaudy".[2]

Home mediaEdit

Can't Help Singing was released on VHS on January 25, 1997, by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.[13] The film was released on DVD on September 6, 2016, by Universal Studios Home Entertainment.[14]

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • 1946 Academy Award Nomination for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture (Jerome Kern and Hans J. Salter)
  • 1946 Academy Award Nomination for Best Music, Original Song (Jerome Kern and E.Y. Harburg)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "U's 1944–45 Production Budget". Variety. July 12, 1944. p. 21.
  2. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (December 26, 1944). "THE SCREEN; 'Can't Help Singing,' in Which Deanna Durbin Goes West to Find Her Man and Music, Is New Feature at the Criterion". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  3. ^ Speed, Maurice F. Film Review 1945. MacDonald, 1945.
  4. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (January 16, 1944). "Deanna Durbin Grows Up; She'll Wed Killer in Next: Youthful Star Begins Adapting Herself to Role Durbin Joins Adult Ranks". Los Angeles Times. p. C1.
  5. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: International Picture Corp. to Star Gypsy Rose Lee in 'The Belle of the Yukon' RUSSIAN FILM HERE TODAY 'The City That Stopped Hitler' Opens at Victoria Under Theatre's New Policy". THE NEW YORK TIMES. September 4, 1943. p. 14.
  6. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. October 22, 1943. p. 21.
  7. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. December 14, 1943. p. 31.
  8. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD". New York Times. March 21, 1944. p. 16.
  9. ^ Schallert, Edwin (March 23, 1944). "Borrowing Spree Fills 'Hunter Girl' Roster: Universal Selects Robert Paige, David Bruce as Leads for Deanna Durbin". Los Angeles Times. p. 17.
  10. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: A history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  11. ^ "Filming locations for Can't Help Singing". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
  12. ^ Schallert, Edwin (January 6, 1945). "Deanna Durbin Delights in Musical Trek". Los Angeles Times. p. 5.
  13. ^ Can't Help Singing. Universal Studios Home Entertainment (VHS). Universal City, California: Universal Pictures. January 25, 1997. ASIN 6304296991. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  14. ^ Can't Help Singing. Universal Studios Home Entertainment (DVD). Universal City, California: Universal Pictures. September 6, 2016. ASIN B01LTHMWQ2. Retrieved August 26, 2020.

External linksEdit