One Hundred Men and a Girl

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One Hundred Men and a Girl is a 1937 musical comedy film, written by Charles Kenyon, Bruce Manning and James Mulhauser from a story by Hanns Kräly and directed by Henry Koster. It was the first of two motion pictures featuring the famed orchestra leader Leopold Stokowski, and is also the film for which Deanna Durbin is best remembered as an actress and a singer in film.



Patsy Cardwell (Deanna Durbin), the daughter of struggling musician John Cardwell, (Adolphe Menjou) forms a symphony orchestra made up of his unemployed friends following a chance encounter with a society maven (Alice Brady). When the maven realizes that Patsy took her blandishments seriously, she flees to Europe. This forces her husband, John R. Frost (Eugene Pallette), to break to John and his friends the harsh reality: that he cannot sponsor them, as they had supposed, unless they attract a well-recognized guest conductor to launch them on their opening night.

Patsy, undaunted, sets out to recruit none other than Leopold Stokowski to be that conductor. Stokowski at first definitely refuses—though when Patsy sings as the orchestra is rehearsing Mozart's Alleluia, he strongly suggests that she seek professional training and eventual representation.

Patsy's campaign seems to have ended—except that while dodging the doorman and hiding in Stokowski's office, she has taken a telephone call from the local music critic and informed him that Stokowski would conduct an orchestra of unemployed musicians, and that John R. Frost would broadcast the concert on the radio! When this utterly false story breaks, an outraged Frost protests his embarrassment to his friends—who then suggest to him that he ought to make it real, because of the valuable publicity it would bring to his other businesses. Frost immediately signs the one-hundred-man orchestra to a contract, though Patsy tries to tell them that Stokowski has not agreed! Frost then calls Stokowski to verify his engagement and is shocked to hear of Stokowski's refusal. Frost visits Stokowski at his house and leaves suspecting that one of his friends has played a trick on him.

But Patsy has also entered Stokowski's house surreptitiously—along with the entire orchestra. After telling them to "set up" on the stairs of Stokowski's balcony, she enters his studio to apologize to him. When he protests that he would like to hear her reason for planting such an outrageous story in the newspaper, she signals the orchestra to perform. Stokowski at first tries to ask them to leave, but is so moved by their performance of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody that he postpones a European tour and agrees to the engagement. The concert is a rousing success for everyone, especially when Patsy, called upon to make a speech, instead agrees to sing the number titled "Brindisi" from Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata.

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