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Three on a Match (1932)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 29 October 1932 (USA)
Although Vivian Revere is seemingly the most successful of a trio of reunited schoolmates, she throws it away by descending into a life of debauchery and drugs.


Mervyn LeRoy


Lucien Hubbard (screen play), Kubec Glasmon (story) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Virginia Davis ... Mary Keaton as a Child
Joan Blondell ... Mary Keaton
Anne Shirley ... Vivian Revere as a Child (as Dawn O'Day)
Ann Dvorak ... Vivian Revere
Betty Carse ... Ruth Westcott as a Child
Bette Davis ... Ruth Westcott
Warren William ... Robert Kirkwood
Lyle Talbot ... Michael Loftus
Humphrey Bogart ... Harve
Allen Jenkins ... Dick
Edward Arnold ... Ace


Mary Keaton, Vivian Kirkwood (née Revere), and Ruth Westcott have just run into each other having not seen each other in ten years since they graduated from Public School 62 together, and become friends of sorts in their re-acquaintance. Their intervening lives went much as probably would have been predicted when they were in public school: Mary, the troublemaker who almost didn't graduate with her class, spent some time in a reformatory but went straight and became a showgirl; Vivian, the popular beauty with a charmed life, married wealthy and renowned lawyer Robert Kirkwood, the two with an adolescent son, Robert Jr.; and Ruth, the quiet, hard-working, smart one, who became a stenographer. While Mary's life took a positive turn since her reformatory years, Vivian has come to the realization that she is unhappy with her life, its path a little too easy in its predetermination. She realizes she probably never loved Robert. Her quest for pleasure, with a blessing of sorts from Robert ... Written by Huggo (updated by R.M. Sieger)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Romance


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Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Director Mervyn LeRoy disliked Bette Davis's acting in this film. She, in turn, hated his directing and called him a "hack", feeling that her talent was being wasted playing supporting roles and dismissing the film. Le Roy said during an interview after the film release that Davis would not become a star. Davis remained cool toward him thereafter. This rift came back to haunt LeRoy when Davis' star began to ascend. See more »


When Mary is smoking a cigarette in the restaurant with Vivian and Ruth, she is holding the cigarette in her right hand as the waitress approaches the table. But immediately on the following cut as the waitress leaves, the cigarette is now in her left hand. Then the cigarette keeps going back and forth between the right and left hand with each successive cut. See more »


Mrs. Keaton: Thank you, Mr. Gilmore. I'm sure Mary will not disappoint you. She's not a bad girl, Mr. Gilmore. She's just not serious enough. She's too full of fun.
Mr. Gilmore: I am the last person to disapprove of fun - at the right time. But, there is also a time for work.
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Featured in Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (1997) See more »


The Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Played during opening scene at the playground
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User Reviews

Short Film Full Of Surprises
26 August 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This was a fast-paced 63-minute story that was a combination women's film and film noir. With a cast that included Joan Blondell, Warren William, Ann Dvorak, Lyle Talbot, Bette Davis, Edward Arnold and Anne Shirley, you know it isn't going to be boring.

Dvorak has the principal role, playing a "dame" who is bored with her husband and her life and flies the coop. She winds up with a petty crook who needs money to pay off off his evil crime boss. The couple winds up in a kidnapping scheme which goes bad in a scene that is quite shocking.

The lingo of the day is interesting to hear as is Davis' youthful face. Arnold also looks really young, far more than I remember seeing him in other movies. Speaking of young, did I mention Humphrey Bogart and Glenda Farrell were also in this? Yes, it's full of surprises for classic film buffs. In another note: Shirley is billed under the name "Dawn O'Day."

I am glad this is now available on DVD. It looks great!

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Release Date:

29 October 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

3 on a Match See more »


Box Office


$444,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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