Review: ‘Three Smart Girls’

Film is a sentimental comedy and has that rare quality of making an audience feel better for having seen it. In 14-year-old diva Deanna Durbin, U has an engaging girl who - established via Eddie Cantor's radio programs - more than matches expectations.

Film is a sentimental comedy and has that rare quality of making an audience feel better for having seen it. In 14-year-old diva Deanna Durbin, U has an engaging girl who – established via Eddie Cantor’s radio programs – more than matches expectations.

Both director Henry Koster (Herman Kosterlitz) and Joseph Pasternak, the associcate producer, were a U production team when Laemmle was making films in Germany. But when Nate Manheim, U’s foreign sales chief, shut up U’s shop over there Manheim insisted that the Koster(litz)-Pasternak team be given a crack in Hollywood.

Story merely tells of three girls’ attempts to reconcile their estranged parents. Durbin is the prime schemer, the other two daughters find future husbands as the action progresses and it all ends on a happy tear as the younger reintroduces her mother to her dad. As presented it’s wholesome, funny, and very satisfying.

Durbin stands out not only as ‘a darling child’ personality, but as a winsome little dramatic actress whose talents do not end with an ability to hit the high registers. This is also one of Charles Winninger’s best performances while Binnie Barnes’ light vamp is not overdone. Alice Brady, as the mamma with an eye to a bankroll, just skirts dangerous shoals in overplaying.

1936: Nominations: Best Picture, Original Story, Sound

Three Smart Girls

Production

Universal. Director Henry Koster; Producer Joseph Pasternak; Screenplay Adele Comandini; Camera Joseph Valentine; Editor Ted J. Kent; Music Charles Previn (dir.)

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1937. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Deanna Durbin Binnie Barnes Alice Brady Ray Milland Charles Winninger Mischa Auer
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