Three Wise Fools (1946) Poster

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Magical fantasy; Margaret O'Brien at her best
penncress6 January 2002
This is one of the best fantasy/comedies I can recall. I would love to see it released on VHS or DVD so that I can add it to my collection. Margaret O'Brien's acting and her interaction with the "wee folk" has never been equalled. The entire cast is great and this movie should not be forgotten.
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Fantastic fantasy
artzau9 November 2005
Maggie O'Brien was one of my favorites when I was a kid. Her delicate pixie looks and intensity, plus her flexible ability to mimic dialects at an early age made her a choice favorite in kid roles in the 40s. Born in 1937, the same year as Dyan Cannon, Natalie Woods and Jane Fonda, she never made it beyond a few potboilers in her late teens and a few TV spots. In this film as an immigrant Irish orphan who is able to see fairy folk attached to an old tree, she plays well off of the original grouch, Lionel Barrymore, perennial villain, Edward Arnold and veteran character actor, Thomas Mitchell. Add to that Henry Davenport and the host of MGM vets and you have a great kid feel-good classic on your hands.

I remember seeing this film at that time when WW2 was over and we all were full of hope about the future. I was born the same year as Maggie and those previously maintained women and she has always connected me with those times during my youth when fantasy was as important as the future.
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heart warming,wisecracking,wonderful
baccaridj5029 January 2007
Yet another movie that needs release. I have amassed a huge movie collection over the years,and have been a movie buff since I was a child. I am very aware of movies as they are released;there are some of the most trashy,cheap movies ever made that are on DVD and some truly wonderful films that remain in limbo. If it were not for TCM{truly the best channel for true movie buffs that exists}, we wouldn't see half of these lost treasures. Anyone who reads this keep asking,and asking,and asking... Three wise fools a truly enjoyable,heartfelt film. Once again BRAVO to T C M.............. if anyone has any additional information as to the why and wherefores of how it is decided when and how old movies are released, I would truly appreciate it Thanx David B.....
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MGM Classic
aberlour367 December 2003
This deserves a ten on the IMDB scale. It's a superb film about hope, love, and blarney. This is Margaret O'Brien's finest film effort, and she is backed by skilled MGM veterans. Why on earth this isn't available, is beyond me. Watch for showings on TCM and get out your video recorder.
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What a cast!
Movie_Palace15 January 2010
A wonderful, entertaining film with an all-star cast. Every scene seems to introduce another classic movie star. While the story centers around Margaret O'Brien, Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, Edward Arnold and Thomas Mitchell, other familiar faces include Harry Davenport, Jane Darwell, Ray Collins, Cyd Charisse, Warner Anderson, Barbara Billingsley, Billy Barty and Jerry Maren. Humorous and fun, Margaret works her endearing charm on the three crusty old birds who have become the new men in her life.

I agree that films such as this deserve to be made available for DVD purchase, most likely in a best of Margaret O'Brien set. Unfortunately for us classic film buffs, the sales numbers would pale in comparison to those for the latest CGI fantasy-action product that can be cross-marketed to toys, video games, theme parks, TV series' and numerous movie sequels. Thus the expectation for a DVD release by the corporation owning the film rights is minimal. They are only interested in profit margins. Long live TCM. And may there some day be a TCM II!
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Excellent, 5 Stars
anuhea19 October 2002
A classic movie. Margaret O'Brien is wonderful as Sheila O'Monahan. Along with Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone, Thomas Mitchell and Edward Arnold, all great actors this movie is a winner. Hopefully one day this classic movie will be forever in everyone's home on VHS or DVD.
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"God sit on your pillow."
utgard1419 December 2014
Three crusty old bachelors (Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Lewis Stone) are among the most successful men in town but have no loved ones. One day they are approached by the granddaughter (Margaret O'Brien) of the woman who rejected them in their youth. The little Irish girl, now an orphan, tells them her grandmother's last wish was for her to come live with them. The three old cranks reject her but then realize that her name is on the deed to some property they want. So they reluctantly take her and her manservant (Thomas Mitchell) in. But they find she won't give up the property easily because she believes a tree on the property is home to fairies and leprechauns.

When I first saw this movie listed on TCM's lineup I was hesitant to get too excited. Despite having a phenomenal cast, it's not a well-known film and it appears to have mixed reviews from critics, professional and otherwise. This made me concerned that it would be a disappointment. Well it wasn't! This is a charming, fantastical little film with lots of humor and heart. The cast is perfect. Margaret O'Brien brings all of the adorable tools in her little bag out here. She hits all her comedy notes right without overplaying it and is her usual melodramatic self with the weepy stuff. She could be an over-actor, no doubt, but so was Bette Davis and everybody loves her for it. She has wonderful chemistry with all of the older actors, especially the terrific Thomas Mitchell. For their parts, the three lead actors are all great. It might amuse some fans of their respective MGM series that Barrymore plays a cantankerous doctor (as he did in the Kildare movies) and Stone plays a judge (as he did in the Hardy series). In addition, there is wonderful support from Harry Davenport (wearing Yoda ears), Jane Darwell, Charles Dingle, Ray Collins, and Henry O'Neill. Also Cyd Charisse appears briefly near the beginning.

Other reviewers have complained that the movie should not have included the fantasy elements. They say that the simple story of the little girl melting the hearts of the old men would have been good enough. I can see where it would still be a fine film without the leprechauns but I fail to see how the addition of these things hurts the film. To me, it adds an extra bit of charm. Unless you're an old fusspot who likes everything grounded in reality as much as depressingly possible, then I don't really get the beef. You're either going to welcome a movie like this with open arms on its terms or your not. If not, you'll probably be put off by just about everything in this because it's very sentimental and delightfully corny.
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A wonderful cast but a rather dim film...
MartinHafer17 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This film has an amazing cast. MGM took some of its finest character actors and starred them in a film with the usually adorable Margaret O'Brien. Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold and Lewis Stone star as three greedy old bachelors who live in the same home. While they have amassed a fortune over the years, they also have been selfish jerks. One of them has an idea to donate some property in order to buy themselves a good name (sort of like Carnegie) but it turns out the property they want to give away actually belongs to O'Brien. And, since she's an orphan, they volunteer to be her guardians so they can give HER property away and look like great philanthropists.

There also is a goofy subplot involving fairies--led by the wonderful character actor Henry Davenport. And, since O'Brien is Irish (as evidenced by her outrageous accent), she and the little people make up much of the plot. Frankly, I absolutely hated this portion of the film and wished they'd just dropped it entirely. Instead, the story could STILL have been about sweet Margaret melting the mean old men's hearts--this would have worked. But...the "little people"?!? Sheesh! Overall, the actors try very, very hard but the silliness of the plot and the deadly earnest way they tried made me cringe. I noticed a lot of people liked this film--I guess I'm just an old grouch! I found the film horrible difficult to watch.
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The Vidiot Reviews...
capone6668 April 2016
Three Wise Fools

Deforestation is beneficial to the Fay because it means barista jobs aplenty.

And while the fairy-tree in this fantasy isn't becoming a Starbucks, it's about to be uprooted.

Determined to leave a legacy that'll allude to their generosity, three misers (Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Lewis Stone) donate land to the university.

But their vanity project is put on hold when they learn the property actually belongs to an Irish orphan (Margaret O'Brien) whose grandmother all three had courted.

But the waif is unwilling to sell on account a tree on the parcel is refuge to the wee-folk.

Despite its unfortunate casting of little people as the forest imps, this 1946 adaptation of the stage-play does capture the enchantment of Irish folklore, and the transformative effects it has on the disillusioned.

However, if we saved every tree based on fairy tales all we'd have to show for it would be stupid oxygen.

Green Light
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songsofeden15 January 2010
this movie i caught the last 15 minutes of . . . i am just delighted what an ending! I can only say this has to be released after 64 years. its' really beautiful and timeless, the cast seemed to be enchanted and enjoying the grand finale. I have no doubt this fantastic film could be remade with great success, What a wonderful and thoughtful lesson about money and nature coming together in the end in mutual agreement turning the faeries realm into a park for everyone to enjoy. a very wholesome and encouraging comedy. I look forward to watching the entire movie from the beginning already knowing the ending is very funny just believing that the wee folk share our love of the great forests they call home
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Terrific Ensemble With Little To Do
Paul-2711 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Count me in as the curmudgeon of the reviewers here. The problem is that this terrific cast is let down by a story which doesn't either get fantastic enough to be, well, fantastic, but which is instead just silly. That said, just watching this superb character group in action, led by the wonderful Margret O'Brien, is worth at at least a view or two.

The problem for me was the overlay of some sort of Irish superstitious fairy tale upon what could have been just a fine tale of a young bright girl coming to live with three crusty bachelors. To get her in the house, instead we get some sort of muddled mess about an Irish curse or blessing, a princess-like character running off with her fair prince-like character and all dying while being buried standing up - or something. I don't even think that a spoiler because I didn't get enough of it to really be able to make a spoiler.

Once in the household, O'Brien plays well against the three old crusts despite affecting a silly Irish accent and pitching her voice so high that I had to ask my dog for a fill in of at least some of the dialog.

Seeing this cast in action was a treat. Too bad the story wasn't stronger. They deserve better.
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