LADY ON A TRAIN. Universal Pictures, 1945. Deanna Durbin, Ralph Bellamy, Edward Everett Horton, Allen Jenkins, David Bruce, George Coulouris, Patricia Morison, Dan Duryea, William Frawley. Based on an original story by Leslie Charteris. Director: Charles David. Shown at Cinevent 16, Columbus OH, May 1984.

   If She [reviewed here ] satisfied our taste for romantic adventure, several films were of interest to the crime addict. The first film of the weekend was Universal’s Lady on a Train, a somewhat ill-fated at tempt to create a sexier, more adult image for Deanna Durbin.

   She’s a rich girl from California who sees a murder from the window of her train and spends the rest of the movie tracking down the victim and then, the killer. Universal kept a number of good contract players busy trying to distract the audience from the fairly irritating Nancy Drewhistronics of star Durbin, but the chief distinction of the film is probably the fine score by Miklos Rosza and the handsome photography.

   This is a classy production, and it’s never classier — and phonier — than in the carefully staged musical interludes, one of which accomplishes the not inconsiderable feat of eroticizing a performance of “Silent Night” by Durbin.

   The plot is devious, and there are several boxes to be opened in this Chinese puzzle before the final revelation. Add a mystery writer with a tin ear for language, Edward Everett Horton looking puzzled at finding himself playing second-banana to Durbin, and Dan Duryea and Ralph Bellamy as candidates for unlikely suitors of the year. Neither one of them approaches his role with any conviction, but Duryea displays an appealing off-hand, casual charm. The script is based on a story by Leslie Charteris.