Despite the number of scenes set on bicycles / coaches / trains, overall this is not one of her better vehicles. (sorry…) On the plus side, the songs are catchy, especially its theme I Love To Whistle (which I'm still humming as I type this). The acting is charismatic too, particularly from Herbert Marshall as her tremendously helpful stand-in dad (he works hard at that piano), and Arthur Treacher as his long-suffering comedy-valet Tripps.
Also I did like the use of Durbin's singing ability as a super power. When she gets locked-up on a train, she escapes by simply opening her mouth and warbling… and it works!
Even the plot has some tremendous drama to it, scrutinising the heartbreak caused by all manner of lies being told, all with good intentions of course.
Unfortunately though, this is exactly what makes the film so cringeworthy for me, nearly all the way through. I'm sorry, but I just cannot get on board with and root for the success of a lead character who is such a compulsive liar. It's impressive that when Richard figures out how to tell when Gloria is lying, rather than confront her, he wisely keeps his observations to himself sooner than flag to her the need to disguise her subterfuge better.
What does provide some sense of push-back though is the heartbreaking scene when Gwen's manager - Dusty Turner (William Frawley) - gently explains to Gloria why his own elaborate lie has to be protected, even at the cost of her getting to meet her own A-list mother in the next room.
Dusty: "You see, everything a big star does, everything about her, makes people talk. They guess, and gossip, and watch every move she makes, everything she does. Then they tell the newspapers, and the newspapers print it. She's got to be different. Why she's almost like a princess in a fairy tale."
Gloria: "I see. And a princess in a fairy tale can't have a daughter as big as I am, can she."
Dusty: "Oh but next year, she's gonna be with you - all the time."
Gloria: "Good bye."
See what happened there? Two things:
1. Dusty told one lie, which made it impossible for Gloria to believe the second thing he said either. Or indeed anything else that Dusty says for... well, maybe the rest of his life.
2. Gloria has spent the whole film up until this point lying, so she understandably suspects others may be treating her in the same way. The person who tells the truth shouldn't suffer from that paranoia. (as much)
By the end of the film, it's still unclear whether Gloria's own enormous scam has yet been exposed to all her friends or not.
I mean it looks as though it has, but I can't help feeling that they've all been told yet another big whopper that we're not in on either.
(available here) (would I lie to you?)