Up 9,096 this week

Three Smart Girls (1936)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.9/10 from 715 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 12 critic

Three sisters scheme to reunite their divorced parents before their wealthy father marries a conniving gold digger.



(original story), (screen play), 5 more credits »
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 22 titles
created 23 Oct 2011
a list of 24 titles
created 01 Apr 2012
a list of 21 titles
created 09 Jun 2012
a list of 43 titles
created 18 May 2013
a list of 33 titles
created 11 months ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Three Smart Girls (1936)

Three Smart Girls (1936) on IMDb 6.9/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Three Smart Girls.

User Polls

Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

It's a Date (1940)
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An aspiring actress is offered the lead in a major new play, but discovers that her mother, a more seasoned performer, expects the same part. The situation is further complicated when they both become involved with the same man.

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, Walter Pidgeon
Alice Adams (1935)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The misadventures of two social-climbing women in small town America.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Fred Stone
Action | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The O'Leary brothers -- honest Jack and roguish Dion -- become powerful figures, and eventually rivals, in Chicago on the eve of its Great Fire.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

This send-up of ragtime song and dance begins in 1915 San Francisco when society boy Roger Grant decides to pursue popular rather than serious music.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Viva Villa! (1934)
Biography | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In this fictionalized biography, young Pancho Villa takes to the hills after killing an overseer in revenge for his father's death. In 1910, he befriends American reporter Johnny Sykes. ... See full summary »

Directors: Jack Conway, Howard Hawks, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Wallace Beery, Fay Wray, Leo Carrillo
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Young love is poisoned by a generations long feud between two noble families.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, John Barrymore
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A young femme fatale-type woman realizes that the wealthy man she married is an incorrigible wastrel.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Deanna Durbin, Gene Kelly, Richard Whorf
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

John has lead a solitary life for thirty years since the death of Moonyeen Clare. But now Owens, a close friend, insists that he care for his niece, Kathleen, orphaned when her parents were... See full summary »

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The queen of mythical Sylvania marries a courtier, who finds his new life unsatisfying.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Lupino Lane
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The title represents the hopeful, ambitious students at a hospital training school and is primarily a story of the stern discipline and laborious physical and mental toil they endure in ... See full summary »

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Loretta Young, John Boles, Dorothy Wilson
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A young woman who wants to break into the theater schemes to become the protege of a famous Broadway star.

Director: Richard Wallace
Stars: Deanna Durbin, Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

While waiting at a train station, Nikki Collins witnesses a murder from a nearby building. When she brings the police to the scene of the crime, they think she's crazy since there's no body... See full summary »

Director: Charles David
Stars: Deanna Durbin, Ralph Bellamy, David Bruce


Complete credited cast:
Binnie Barnes ...
Donna Lyons
Charles Winninger ...
Mrs. Lyons
Lord Michael Stuart
Count Arisztid
Ernest Cossart ...
Lucile Watson ...
John 'Dusty' King ...
Bill Evans (as John King)
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Wilbur Lamb
Nan Grey ...
Barbara Read ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Trois jeunes filles à la page  »

Box Office


$326,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Penny loses her shoes after she dives into the lake, but regains them a few seconds later. See more »


Judson Craig: I'm not a gentleman, I'm a father.
See more »


Followed by Hers to Hold (1943) See more »


Il bacio
(1860) (uncredited)
Music by Luigi Arditi
Lyrics by Gottardo Aldighieri
Performed by Deanna Durbin
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Craig's Daughters
18 April 2009 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THREE SMART GIRLS (Universal, 1936), directed by Henry Koster, gives indication as a movie set in a classroom revolving around three intellectual students competing in keeping their names on the honor roll or dean's list. Though it does present three school age teenagers as major attractions, it's basically an uplifting story serving as a promotion for three bright stars in the making: Barbara Read, Nan Grey and "Universal's Newest Discovery," Deanna Durbin. Aside from her special billing in the opening credits, Durbin acquires enough attention and close-ups to come as no surprise which one of the "three smart girls" is to become an overnight sensation.

The story introduces three teenage sisters, Kay (Barbara Read), Joan (Nan Grey) and Penny (Deanna Durbin) living together in the country home in Switzerland with their mother, Dorothy (Nella Walker) and housekeeper, Martha (Lucile Watson). Through a newspaper article, the girls find, to their displeasure, that their New York millionaire banker father, Judson Craig (Charles Winninger), whom their mother divorced ten years ago, intends to marry, Donna Lyons Binnie Barnes), a young socialite he affectionately calls "Precious." Donna, along with her mother (Alice Brady), it turns out, are actually fortune hunters after Craig's money. Because this news has hurt their mother, who still loves him, Penny suggests paying Daddy a visit to break up this union. With "Mummy" remaining in Switzerland, the girls, accompanied by Martha, take the next boat to New York, after which they surprise both Daddy and his future bride-to-be while dining in an exclusive restaurant. A series of schemes and mishaps follow, including the hiring of Count Arisztid (hilariously played by Mischa Auer), a drunken unemployed Hungarian gigolo, to woo Miss Lyons. Along the way, the elder sisters encounter young men of interest, Bill Evans (John King), who manages Craig's investments; and Lord Michael Stewart(Ray Milland).

Reportedly a huge success for Universal, earning an Academy Award nomination as Best Picture of 1936, it shows how important it was for both studio and 14-year-old Deanna Durbin. Being her feature film debut, with only the musical short, "Every Sunday" (MGM, 1936) opposite Judy Garland, to her credit, Durbin turned out to be one smart girl for this production. Energetic, vibrant and talented in the singing category, she opens the film singing "My Heart is Singing" while rowing the sailboat with her sisters. "Someone to Care for Me" (by Gus Kahn, Walter Jurman and Bronislau Kaper) started off earlier with Binnie Barnes attempt to sing while entertaining her guests, in turn serving Durbin to advantage singing it to her father (Winninger). Durbin's final number is the classical piece, "Il Bacio" where she sings in a police station for the police chief (John Hamilton).

With other capable performers in the cast, Ernest Cossart co-stars as Craig's manservant, Binns; Charles Coleman (Stevens, the butler); Franklin Pangborn (The Jeweler); and Hobart Cavanaugh (Wilbur Lamb, one of Craig's assistants).

One of the most revived Durbin films to air on commercial television during the 1960s, THREE SMART GIRLS turned up quite frequently on cable channel American Movie Classics (1993-1996) before shifting over to Turner Classic Movies where it premiered January 14, 2007. Prior to that, THREE SMART GIRLS did get further exposure when distributed to home video in the 1990s. Interestingly, when displayed to DVD a decade later, it became a companion piece with a much latter Durbin musical, SOMETHING IN THE WIND (1947) instead of its sequels, THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939) and HERS TO HOLD (1943). As popular as the original turned out to be, with its blend of music, comedy and sentiment, the sequels were equally successful, though virtually forgotten due to limited television revivals or hard to find VHS copies.

THREE SMART GIRLS not only opened a whole new career for Deanna Durbin, but marked the beginning of a whole new cycle of teenage movies later carried on by Judy Garland and others over where Durbin actually got her start, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. (***)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Muffins and Milk dandilion123
Delightful and enjoyable movie modo5472
three smart girls latin dance number fairjumper
Discuss Three Smart Girls (1936) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: