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Edna May Oliver
The three Craig sisters, in Switzerland with their ten-years-divorced mother, run away to New York to prevent their father from marrying calculating socialite Donna Lyons. The overpowering vivacity of the Smart Girls (nominal ages 14-20) sweeps all before it, but a romantic complication between middle sister Kay and their accidental ally, Lord Michael Stuart, threatens shipwreck to their schemes... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
MGM's loss was Universal Studio's gain when Louis B. Mayer sold Deanna Durbin's contract to Carl Laemmle and Universal gave her a grand debut in Three Smart Girls. The three are the Craig sisters played by Nan Grey, Barbara Read, and Durbin as the youngest and the one with the musical talent. But all three are on a mission to bring their mother and father back together.
The girls are vacationing in Switzerland when word comes that dear old dad who's been divorced from mom for years is about to be married again. Back to New York come the sisters to save father Charles Winninger from the clutches of mercenary Binnie Barnes and her even more mercenary mother Alice Brady.
While on the mission Grey and Read get themselves some romantic involvement also with Dusty King and Ray Milland. It gets a bit complicated though when Read thinks that Milland is a no account count that King hired to woo Barnes away from Winninger. Actually Milland is a titled gent, the guy that King hired was Mischa Auer.
In the first of her many roles in the guise, Deanna Durbin plays little Miss Fix-it and solves everybody's problems in the end with a few songs to go with it. It was a formula that worked well for Universal, pulling the studio back from inherent bankruptcy. Abbott&Costello would later make it turn a profit.
Three Smart Girls got Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Sound and Best Original Story. The fashions and mores of the time place it firmly in the Depression Thirties. I doubt it could ever be made today again.
Where would you find a voice like Deanna Durbin's?
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