Musical Mondays: “Three Smart Girls” (1936)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.

In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Three Smart Girls” (1936) Musical #132


Universal Pictures

Henry Koster

Deanna Durbin, Ray Milland, Charles Winneger, Binnie Barnes, Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, Nan Grey, Barbara Read, Lucile Watson,

Three sisters (Read, Gray, Durbin) living with their mother in Switzerland hear that their father (Winneger) is remarrying. The sisters travel to New York to see their father- who they haven’t seen in 10 years- to stop the wedding so their parents can get back together. The sisters scheme to make the new, gold-digging bride (Barnes) turn her attention to a wealthier fellow

Babara Read, Deanna Durbin and Nan Grey as sisters in "Three Smart Girls"

Barbara Read, Deanna Durbin and Nan Grey as sisters in “Three Smart Girls”

-Opera singing actress Deanna Durbin’s first film
-Louis B. Mayer had Durbin and Judy Garland both tested for MGM Studios. Garland was signed with MGM while Universal signed Durbin. Garland cried when she saw Universal had faith in Durbin to lead in her first films, and MGM was sticking Garland into supporting roles, according to the 2010 book “The Songs of Hollywood” by Philip Furia and Laurie Patterson.
-“Three Daring Daughters” (1948) is not officially said to be a remake, the movies are very similar. Opera singing Jane Powell is similar to the Deanna Durbin role and the daughters are trying to get their newly married mother back with their father. The films end differently, though.
-The plot can also be compared to the Hayley Mills Disney film, “The Parent Trap” (1961).
-Followed by “Three Smart Girls Grow Up” (1939) and “Hers To Hold” (1943)
-Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture of 1936 against films such as “The Great Ziegfeld,” “Libeled Lady,” “Anthony Adverse,” “Mr. Deeds Goes To Town,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “San Francisco.” “The Great Ziegfeld” was the Best Picture winner that year.
-The film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Recording and Best Writing for Original Screenplay.

Notable songs:
None of the songs are terribly familiar or familiar, other than “Il Bacio,” but they all showcase Durbin’s beautiful voice. Aside from a brief song from Binnie Barnes, the four songs sung in the comedy are all by Durbin.

My review:

Young Ray Milland (Screencap by Michael Troutman at I Shoot the Pictures

Young Ray Milland (Screencap by I Shoot the Pictures)

Though I’m not sure how the movie was nominated for Best Picture, I really enjoy “Three Smart Girls” (1936).
The film would have catered to both adult and child audiences in 1936 with the adult and child stars in the film.
It’s also a joy to see young Ray Milland early in this film career. Though he started in films in the early 1930s, “Three Smart Girls” was around the time when he started playing credited roles.
This is not your average musical full of singing and dancing in the middle of the street. “Three Smart Girls” is a comedy serving as a vehicle for up and coming star Deanna Durbin. The plot tells that she is taking singing lessons to become an opera singer, and she will break into song when asked.

Check back next week for Musical Monday.

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2 thoughts on “Musical Mondays: “Three Smart Girls” (1936)

    • Yep! It’s called “Three Daring Daughters” with Jeannette MacDonald and Jane Powell. It’s a little different than this one but the plot line is very similar


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