Lady on a Train (1945)

Lady on a Train (1945), directed by Charles David.

Looking out of her train window, a debutante who reads a lot of murder mysteries witnesses an actual murder. Since no one will believe her she has to be her own detective, which includes invading the dead man's mansion and pretending to be his club-singer fiancée. And sole heir, much to the chagrin of his relatives.

Years later Agatha Christie used exactly the same setup in her "4.50 from Paddington", a Miss Marple story.

It tries to be a wacky, screwball murder mystery and doesn't quite make it, but is still fun to watch. I review it because pretty silver-toned Deanna Durbin always makes me happy. She was 24 here and would retire three years later.

Although not explicitly a musical, she sings "Silent Night" to her father over the phone, and later at the club: "Give Me a Little Kiss" and Cole Porter's "Night and Day". The later two give her more spice than we are used to seeing from her:


Night and day, under the hide of me
There's an, ooh, such a hungry yearning
Burning inside of me
And this torment won't be through
Till you let me spend my life making love to you
Day and night, night and day

She is still very proper. The War years must have been good for her because she has a fabulous wardrobe, never the same outfit twice.

Also in the cast: bashful Ralph Bellamy as nephew #1, slippery Dan Duryea as nephew #2, Edward Everett Horton as the fussy factotum, George Coulouris as the sinister club manager with Blofeld's white cat, and David Bruce as a mystery writer dragooned into helping with the investigation.

A prize for you if you can guess the murderer.

It is a Christmas film in New York City but has pouring rain during the day with no one wearing winter coats, then heaps of snowdrifts that night. I can't explain it.

Miklós Rózsa score, lighter and more goofy than his work for more serious films.

Photographed by Elwood Bredell: The Killers (1946), Adventures of Don Juan (1948).

Available on a bare-bones Blu-ray from Kino which has been a fire-hose of deep catalog classics; I don't know how they do it. It is part of their box set "Film Noir: The Dark Side of Cinema IX".

Video quality is just ok, obviously no major restoration work done. Some online references list a commentary track: no sign of it on my disc.