29 user 15 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.


Henry Koster


Adele Comandini (original story), Adele Comandini (screen play)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Binnie Barnes ... Donna Lyons
Charles Winninger ... Judson Craig
Alice Brady ... Mrs. Lyons
Ray Milland ... Lord Michael Stuart
Mischa Auer ... Count Arisztid
Ernest Cossart ... Binns
Lucile Watson ... Martha
John 'Dusty' King ... Bill Evans (as John King)
Nella Walker ... Dorothy Craig
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Wilbur Lamb
Nan Grey ... Joan
Barbara Read ... Kay
Deanna Durbin ... 'Penny'


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


The Radio Brought Her to Your Home-The Screen Brings Her to Your Heart! (Print Ad- Spartanburg Herald, ((Spartanburg, SC)) 10 February 1937) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


It was reportedly when viewing the rushes that the decision was made to increase Deanna Durbin's screen time in the picture. 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 »


Penny Craig: [after the waiter delivers her lunch in the restaurant, she feistily exclaims] Muffins and milk! That's no food for fighters!
See more »


Referenced in Start Cheering (1938) See more »


Someone to Care for Me
(1936) (uncredited)
Music by Bronislau Kaper and Walter Jurmann
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Performed by Binnie Barnes (piano and vocal)
Reprised by Deanna Durbin
See more »

User Reviews

Turn off your brain and enjoy.
13 June 2014 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

While "Three Smart Girls" has some very nice moments, the film will probably be received less enthusiastically than it was back in 1936. Back then, the film received three Oscar nominations and Deanna Durbin received a special Oscar for her performance. However, now it just seems awfully formulaic and ordinary...though still worth watching.

The film begins with the three young ladies at home with their mother. They learn that their jerk-faced father is remarrying. Apparently, the parents divorced many years earlier and now the daughters want to see if they can break up this marriage and get their parents back together. However, and this is a HUGE problem with the film, the father (Charles Winninger) is a horse's butt. This is because he apparently hasn't seen them at all since the divorce--and why would the girls want to be involved with him? And, how could they ever expect such a self-centered guy to even care what they think? Still, the ladies somehow want to bring Daddy back to the bosom of his loving family.

So why do I STILL give this movie a 7? Ray Milland. He was WONDERFUL in the film--and how he gets involved with these goof-ball girls is awfully funny. See the film--you'll see what I mean.

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Release Date:

20 December 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Smart Girls See more »


Box Office


$326,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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