Three Smart Girls (1936)

Three Smart Girls (1936)

Cute comedy with music that served as the screen debut-showcase for the talented teenage singer-come-actress Deanna Durbin who’d gone on to work at Universal Pictures after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer chose to make a star of Judy Garland instead; the two had more or less auditioned in the MGM short Every Sunday (1936). It was directed by Henry Koster and written by Adele Comandini who earned her only Academy recognition with an Oscar nomination for her original story; Austin Parker adapted it. The film and its Sound Recording were also nominated.

The titled Craig sisters – Joan (Nan Grey) Kay (Barbara Reed) and Penny (Durbin) – live in Switzerland with their mother Dorothy (Nella Walker); their father Judson (Charles Winninger) lives in New York. Even though they’re divorced Dorothy gets depressed when she learns that Judson is about to remarry. The girls with funding from their housekeeper Martha (Lucile Watson) decide to travel to New York to prevent their father’s pending nuptials. They discover that Daddy is about to marry a social climbing gold digger named Donna (Binnie Barnes) whose mother Mrs. Lyons (Alice Brady) is the conniving brains behind the scheme. Bill Evans (John ‘Dusty’ King) suggests that the best way to redirect the Lyons’ efforts would be to find a richer potential groom and the penniless Count Arisztid (Mischa Auer) is hired for the job. However a real Lord Michael Stuart (Ray Milland) is mistaken for the would-be suitor and complications arise when he and Kay fall for one another. But never fear as is always the case all will work out in the end including a reunion between the Craig sisters’ parents.

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