20 user 13 critic

Three Smart Girls (1936)

Approved | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 20 December 1936 (USA)
Three sisters scheme to reunite their divorced parents before their wealthy father marries a conniving gold digger.



(original story), (screen play)

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


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Complete credited cast:
Bill Evans (as John King)
Dorothy Craig
Wilbur Lamb


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 <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tri zlate deklice  »


Box Office


$326,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was made at one of the many times when Universal Pictures Corporation was on the brink of bankruptcy. It was Universal's big Christmas release for 1936. It became a critical success and a box office sensation It led to a string of highly popular Deanna Durbin pictures that helped keep Universal in the black through the war years. See more »


In the 'long shot', Penny dives headfirst into the lake, getting thoroughly drenched, but in the nearly immediate 'medium shot', she has dry hair, hat, and face as she swims to shore. See more »


Mrs. Lyons: I thought you were a gentleman!
Judson Craig: I'm not a gentleman, I'm a father!
Mrs. Lyons: You're an old fool!
Judson Craig: And you're an old
[pauses to think]
Judson Craig: buzzard!
See more »


Referenced in Booky Makes Her Mark (2006) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Charming & Funny
14 July 2004 | by See all my reviews

This charming, funny movie combines Deanna Durbin's numerous talents with a far-fetched but enjoyable story, a set of interesting characters, and a cast and settings that make it all work. It combines the feel of the old screwball comedies with a little of the pace of a vintage musical, and a dash of commentary on family life. The combination works well, and is not as easy as it looks, as is so often demonstrated by the numerous gauche, hammy "family comedies" of more recent years.

Although she was quite young at the time, Durbin already had quite a singing voice, and she also had the kind of stage presence that allows her young character to take command of a scene in ways that would otherwise seem forced. She and the other two of the "Three Smart Girls" make a winning and energetic set of heroines. The rest of the cast members do well, too, and several of them have some very good moments. Charles Winninger makes the indecisive father very believable, Ray Milland's smooth, slightly exaggerated performance fits in nicely, Mischa Auer steals a number of scenes, and Binnie Barnes keeps her "other woman" character from being a stereotype.

Despite having a short career, Deanna Durbin left behind several very pleasant, enjoyable pictures that are worth the trouble to find for fans of classic cinema. This early feature is particularly charming.

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