Three working girls in Budapest pool their resources to get a better apartment and impress their dates. One dates a nobleman and, learning of her rejection by him, considers poison. Another...
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Three working girls in Budapest pool their resources to get a better apartment and impress their dates. One dates a nobleman and, learning of her rejection by him, considers poison. Another drinks the poison by mistake and lands a physician for herself. The third marries a businessman. The first girl gets a shop of her own. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
While the onscreen credit states the movie is "based on the play" by Ladislaus Bus-Fekete (Leslie Bush-Fekete) and Hollywood Reporter production charts stated the play was called "Three Girls," no performance of that play has been found. Another Hollywood Reporter news item in December 1935 stated that Fox purchased Bus-Fekete's novel, "Ladies in Love" to be published in England in 1936. The book was published in the United States in 1937. See more »
Star-studded cast with three complete story lines make this tiny gem a fast-paced and absorbing flick. Bennett commands all her scenes with her trademarked regal assurance, Young does her gushing little girl routine, with one quick quip about being independent of men at the beginning, almost as if there was a coded assumption that she was a feminist at heart who had to be proved wrong by the overwhelming righteousness of patriarchal adherence to the masculine preferences inherent in the typical happy ending. Gaynor does her variation on Young's innocent routine, only mixing in the eager submissiveness of the thoroughly indoctrinated practitioner of standard femininity.
The stories are set in Budapest, harnessed together by one of old Hollywood's most beloved artifices, the "three girls rooming together in poverty searching for husbands" plot. We are instantly thrown into the three romantic story lines, with the astonishing economy of old Hollywood that I fervently wish were still practiced today.
Bennett is engaged in a open, sensible affair with Paul Lukas, and is showily worldly and cynical, while using subtle cues to clue us into the real state of her heart. Young has a storybook romance going with a young nobleman, played by the preternaturally handsome Power, who could have used a bit more screen time, or so many of us might wish. Gaynor is in love with a irascible, jealous control freak doctor, Ameche, but is discharged by him when she starts to work for the pompous, self-centered Alan Mowbray, who is a conceited magician and who does a wonderful character turn in the typically delightful Mowbray style, which is to say, as gay as pink ink on scented paper.
I expected absolute fidelity to the standard Hollywood tropes and was pleasantly surprised to find the ending quite mixed. Young and Bennett reprise Young's comments about independence after being properly chastened by the absolute freedom enjoyed by the men in their lives, and Lukas is boldly tempted away from Bennett's side by Simon, playing a French schoolgirl who steals every scene she is in with her precocious grasp of the values of sexual audacity. There is a priceless moment, after she gets him to kiss her, a lingering kiss fraught with expectation and lacking in any visible restraint, where she looks at him in delight and barks a little laugh of knowing disdain and triumphant glee. Excellently put together and directed with great timing and sensitive performances, this film greatly exceeded my modest expectations.
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