Skip to content

The Mad Movie Challenge……… Three Smart Girls (1936)

For my inaugural mad movie challenge from Kristina at Speakeasy I have been assigned the debut film for Edna Mae Durbin. Soon to be world famous as Deanna Durbin and according to legend, rescuing Universal Pictures from bankruptcy. She had previously appeared in a musical short with fellow child star about to make good Judy Garland for MGM studios where she was on a 6 month contract. Upon her release she found herself at Universal going before the cameras for her first of 21 feature films. Universal was obviously building her up for the star treatment as she is billed in the opening credits as Universal’s New Discovery.

deanna

The film itself plays like an earlier version of The Parent Trap at times with Durbin and her two sisters played by Nan Grey and Barbara Read attempting to put their long divorced parents back together when it is learned that Father is engaged to a much younger woman. Slapstick ensues when Mother/Daughter team Alice Brady and Binnie Barnes set out to land the girls Father played by Charles Winninger for his money. The girls with the help of young and handsome Ray Milland set about stopping the nuptials and hopefully get Mom and Dad back together again.

Durbin herself was already singing on radio by the time this film was released and her appearance here is as a feisty young teenager who isn’t one to sit back when she wants to set things in motion. Almost comparable to our friend at MGM, Andy Hardy. Unlike the Hardy films, this one only produced one sequel in 1939, Three Smart Girls Grow Up.

three girls grow up

Both films were directed by Henry Koster who is perhaps best known for filming the sentimental Harvey and the popular Biblical epic The Robe. As for Deanna’s singing voice, it is beyond her years and seems to be that of a much more mature woman. The film begins with her singing as if to showcase her right from the opening frames and she’ll sing twice more before the fadeout.

ray milland

Like so many other leading men of the 40’s and 50’s, Ray Milland got his start playing young romantic minded men in the 30’s and it’s easy to see that he would be around for years to come. Some good laughs come at the expense of Mischa Auer as a would be suitor to Barnes and Superman fans will be sure to recognize Perry White from the George Reeves series, John Hamilton.

The film is an easy going screwball comedy/musical with some genuine laughs along the way. For me this viewing is a discovery as opposed to  a rediscovery and I thank fellow film fan Kristina for the challenge. Be sure to head over to the Speakeasy to check out her challenge movie.

6 Comments »

  1. nice! so I’m curious: knowing this genre is a little out of your wheelhouse (partly why I picked it), would you say Deanna is someone you would watch or enjoy watching again?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: