Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, March 3, 2016
THREE SMART GIRLS
Dorothy Craig (Nella Walker) has been divorced from her wealthy husband, Judson (Charles Winninger) for years, when she discovers that he's keeping company with a marriage-minded gal named Donna (Binnie Barnes). Her three daughters, who haven't seen their father in ten years, jet from Switzerland to New York City -- along with nanny-maid Martha (Lucile Watson) -- to break Judson and Donna up and reunite their parents. Three Smart Girls sort of glosses over the fact that there's no excuse for a father not to see his own daughters in a decade, but as he's played by the "lovable" Winninger, it's made more palatable, if not quite excusable. You have to wonder why Judson would have the slightest interest in seeing his wife again let alone remarrying her. The three sisters are Joan (Nan Grey of Dracula's Daughter), who falls for her father's associate, Bill (John King of Charlie Chan in Honolulu); mousy Kay (Barbara Read), who is unaccountably pursued by Lord Michael Stuart (Ray Milland); and Penny (Deanna Durbin), who is the youngest and most high-spirited of the bunch. Universal obviously put the publicity push strictly behind Durbin, giving her several song numbers to showcase her glorious voice, and letting the other two gals sink or swim. Grey had quite a few credits before Three Smart Girls, while this was the first picture for Read, who had a few later credits. Except for a short, this was also Durbin's first movie. Whatever its flaws, Three Smart Girls is amusing, entertaining and well-acted by all, with Barnes especially good as Donna, and Alice Brady [Beauty for Sale] scoring as her mother. Mischa Auer is quite funny as a man hired by the girls to romance Donna. Followed by Three Smart Girls Grow Up.
Verdict: Cute picture with a winning Durbin and others. ***.