Three for the Show (1955) Poster

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....Betty Grable's last full scale musical
Richard-237 May 1999
..and with Marge and Gower Champion and Jack is lots of fun. Fun is what Betty Grable was about...and this film is at its best during those sequences aimed at amusing. ...These days people do not understand Betty Grable very well. In her day she was everyman's and every womans ideal. Indeed no woman has broken Betty's box office record (eleven years in the top ten). And, in the forties and early fifties, women still dominated the box office to an amazing degree--Mom chose the films the family was going out to see. Though it was a bit early to be obvious, Betty in many ways represented a manifestation of what we would now call a liberated woman. She was nearly always working (in revealing clothing!), and she was self supporting. In real life she was a very successful working mother--and particularly during WWII she was an inspiration to women manning the homefront as much as an inspiration to the armed forces fighting overseas. She was pretty, talented, popular, and the highest salaried woman in the United States. Now she is remembered primarily as a 'pin up'--which she also was, but the title tends to diminish the many other factors that created her popularity. One thing is certain, in "Three for the Show" or any other of her starring films--she will entertain you royally within the limitations of the material she was given.
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Sad to see Grable doing a Monroe.
David-2402 July 1999
Betty Grable was 39 when she made this film, her last to be released, and her constant references to herself as a girl seem peculiar. Even more disturbing is the way she imitates the singing style of Marilyn Monroe in her numbers. She had just made "How To Marry a Millionaire" with Monroe and had commented that she felt she was handing her crown on to Monroe. But to see the great star Grable trying to be Monroe is a little sad.

The film itself is a mess of a thing - some good dance numbers featuring Marge and Gower Champion (Marge's fantasy sequence is very fine) and some good songs ("I've Got a Crush On You", "Someone to Watch Over Me")sit uncomfortably with the plot and the director never seems sure which style he is aiming for. It looks like an attempt to cover the breezy free style of the Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen musicals, with characters bursting into song all over the place and elaborate dance dream sequences. But the result is a confusion of styles and a plodding pace.

The plot concerns married Grable discovering her presumed dead first husband is still alive. She must then choose between new husband Gower Champion and old husband Jack Lemmon (who also happen to be a show writing team). This potentially serious situation, that probably occurred a lot after the war, is treated completely flippantly - and with Gower's real life wife hanging around it's not hard to guess how things will turn out. Lemmon is good, but looks uncomfortable singing and dancing. See this for the numbers - but make sure you see it in Cinemascope.
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"The Original Two For One Girl"
bkoganbing1 December 2011
What an interesting pedigree Three For The Show had, dating all the way back to 1920 when W. Somerset Maugham's play Too Many Husbands debuted on Broadway with a long forgotten cast. It had a military background instead of a show business one, though the military does figure prominently in the plot.

Collaborators Jack Lemmon and Gower Champion have a hit show on Broadway for producer Myron McCormick that stars Betty Grable. Lemmon goes into the Air Force during the Korean War and goes MIA. He's reported killed and Grable who was married to Lemmon, now marries Champion. Then of course Lemmon returns and they've a situation the reverse of My Favorite Wife.

In the meantime poor Marge Champion is champing at the bit because she's got a thing for Gower. I think you can figure out where this one is going.

The numbers come from a variety of sources, some original, some Broadway, some classical. Betty Grable in what proved to be her next to last film did more serious type dancing here than in any other. But next to the Champions, she really did not look that good. It was unfair to cast her with them.

Grable also did not like working for Harry Cohn, she was used to another imperious studio mogul over at 20th Century Fox who had kind of eased her out of her number one spot for the fast rising Marilyn Monroe. But she thought he was a pussycat next to Cohn. Two For The Show was Betty's first outside film after 14 year at Fox.

Jack Lemmon proved to have a couple of good singing notes as he does accompany the rest on a number or two. He liked working with Grable because he felt she was unpretentious with a good sense of humor as apparently a lot of her colleagues did.

As a film though, Three For The Show will never rank first rate in the work of either Lemmon or Grable.
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betty grable queen of technicolor
lindalahughs10 April 2004
Betty grable was 39 when she made Three For The Show, She looked fabulous, sung wonderful songs and outdanced the reigning blonde Marilyn Monroe who Grable handed the Fox Blonde crown to in 1953, this movie made in 1955 shows what a glamorous movie queen Grable could have continued to be. this movie was made at Columbia and Grable should have put down roots there, she was offered Pal Joey but turned it down, silly Grable . anyway as movie historys most successful moneymaker Grable reigns supreme. she outperformed Marge Champion and her then husband Gower, who 10 years later ignored Grable when she headlined in Broadways Hello Dolly his show, he sent his assistant to oversee Grables rendition of Dolly Levi. shame Gower! Grable the No.1 Star! No Columbia did not cheaply hire Grable, they paid her $200,000 for this movie, marilyn was still getting her $125,000 per film at fox.Other comments about being old and fat are vicious, Betty was stunning in this movie check youtube and see the clips from "Three for the Show".
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She's got it. Yeah baby, she's got it!
mark.waltz3 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In one of her last movies 20 years into a film career as one of the great movie musical leading ladies, she could still wow an audience. Unfortunately, there are too many music video style dream sequences that are trying too hard to be artistic, giving nothing to the plot of this remake of "Too Many Husbands". Grable's a Broadway musical star who believes book writer husband Jack Lemmon is dead, having gone into the military and ending up stranded on a desert island. She has now married his dancer best friend Gower Champion and on the closing night of her big hit which Lemmon wrote for her, she gets the shock of her life when he brings her flowers at curtain call right after she made a speech memorializing him. Now she's got a choice to make which delights her seemingly sweet dancer pal Marge Champion who at one point or another has been in love with both men herself.

Some Gershwin standards and a few minor new songs flesh out the musical program here, utilizing dream sequences in an unsuccessful attempt to emulate the intelligent similar themes of "Lady in the Dark". Champion, who would direct Grable on Broadway in "Hello, Dolly!", is a great dancer, but it's obvious where this plot is going. Lemmon, a fine singer, remade three Columbia comedies which added songs, and his easy charm is perfect for musical comedy. It's too bad he only did three or never got to star in a musical on Broadway. I could easily see him as Harold Hill in "The Music Man". As for Ms. Champion, her character seems all too eager to break the news to Lemmon, making her a bit of a troublemaker and not really sympathetic.

So the major praise here goes to Ms. Grable, surviving through three decades of changing musical tastes and remaining fresh and lovable. Her female run harem sequence (with strains of "Stranger in Paradise" attached) is the best of the fantasies. Champion's rendition of "Someone to watch over me" leads to a very weird number that had me in disbelief over what I was seeing. Lemmon has a acrobatic semi-dance number where he prepares for time alone with Grable that seems like something out of a silent movie. It's a mixed bag with much to admire. I just wish it wasn't trying to be so high brow.
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Mid-Fifties desperation
marcslope9 October 2007
Musicals are dying, you're Harry Cohn, you have all those expensive sound stages and wide-screen cameras lying around... what do you do? He remade one of Columbia's not-first-rate-to-begin-with screwball comedies, "Too Many Husbands," outfitted as a very splashy and very insubstantial musical with an oddball cast. Good it's certainly not, but for students of the evolution of the '50s musical, it's interesting. Betty Grable, legs as spectacular as ever, has married Gower Champion when first husband Jack Lemmon, thought dead in the war, returns. It's a standard plot, silly and overstaged, with Lemmon and Gower throwing a lot of fake punches at each other. But the filmmakers do try to retrofit it in musical ways. The score, mostly Gershwin standards, isn't well sung, and Grable and Lemmon are a terrible match -- she just seems too much woman for him, and she was nearly a decade his senior. But he does warble passably and even dances and tickles the ivories a little. Most striking are a couple of extended, wordless sequences, not exactly dancing and not exactly not, but choreographed, to classical chestnuts: They show the makers' desperation at trying to do something, anything, new, to keep musicals alive. Marge Champion, not a singer, surprisingly has to sing a lot. She and Gower have the best sequence, a falling-in-love pas de deux filmed practically in one take, like the good old Fred and Ginger duets. But the movie feels underpopulated -- these four and Myron McCormick, as an unappealingly avaricious agent, are practically the whole cast -- and Gower, though lean and graceful, looks impatient to jump out of the Cinemascope frame and go direct.
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Enoch Arden yet again -- the last and least
grizzledgeezer27 February 2015
"Enoch Arden" has been made as a sound film four times, all comedies. (Tennyson's poem is, to say the least, tragic.) The Grant/Dunne version ("My Favorite Wife") is generally considered the best treatment. It was remade as "Move Over, Darling", with Doris Day and James Garner.

Somerset Maugham's play was filmed as "Too Many Husbands", a reasonably good film (with a "suggestive" ending) that suffers next to "Favorite". "Three for the Show" is a musical remake. At best, it's lame. At worst, it's stupid.

Either way it's a mish-mosh of mostly uninspired dance numbers, songs borrowed from other musicals, and nothing whatever that would convince us we should have the least bit of interest in the characters and their predicament. It doesn't work as comedy, drama, or spectacle.

The only good thing is an extended dance sequence in which Betty Gable and Marge Champion fight. (No mud or Jell-O, though.)

It's not only boring, but irritating. A dud all around.
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Betty does Marilyn, while the Champions dance
weezeralfalfa14 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I didn't think this much maligned "minor" musical was all that bad. In addition to the story about Betty currently having 2 husbands, a number of imaginative musicals, and stand alone singing are featured. This is a musical remake of the 1940 B&W comedy "Too Many Husbands", which suffers from a lack of musicals to break up the constant bickering between the 2 husbands of Jean Arthur, which became tedious after a while.........This(1955) was the last year of many musicals produced by Hollywood. It was also the last year for Betty and Marge Champion to be in a film, and the last for Gover Champion to be in films until a few in the '60s. In contrast, this was only the 3rd film for the 4th star: Jack Lemmon, who would go on to be in many more, mostly non-musicals..........Gover and Marge were a good athletic dance team, included in the occasional musical, either as a specialty act, or as major characters in the screen play.........Reviewer David-240 pointed out that , in her musical numbers, Betty usually more resembled Marylin Monroe's more sexy style of singing and body movements. The reviewer thought it sad that Betty thought she had to imitate the then popular style of musical comedy divas. However, in the Trivia section at this site, it states that the choreographer, Jack Cole, had worked with Marylin in several pictures, and wanted to turn Betty into another MM. I'd say Betty did a pretty good job for a beginner...........In the screenplay, Betty has to decide whether her first husband, played by Jack Lemmon, and thought dead until recently, or his, too soon, replacement, played by Gover Champion, was to be her husband of the future. She took her time deciding, enjoying the extra attention showered on her by the 2 men. In fact, she remarked that she would like even more husbands. In her daydream, she is a Middle East queen, and has maybe 20 men who stay in individual cages, until she beckons them: an imaginative musical production, singing "You gotta stay down".........A bit later, Marge has quite a long daydream, in which she apparently is a princess, wearing a tiara, interacting with a bunch of men, often dressed in formal Georgian style, and eventually forced to fight with a rival princess. Quite imaginative! In her real world, she would be happy with the husband Betty discards. See it as YouTube.
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Complete Rubbish except for one song
DavidW123421 October 2011
Betty Grable extracts the maximum seductive charm out of "I've Got a Crush On You". The Gershwins really could write. Worth watching the film up to that point; but don't bother thereafter. Does Jack Lemmon have a pianist double for the early part of the song or could he play? The dance sequences are tedious, especially the show within a show's finale. The plot is ridiculous, the use of classical music for attempts at comic dance was a flop. It was all just a bit embarrassing. Ironic that one of the plot lines is a musical that is in danger of bombing. Ah well. Only watched this because Jack Lemmon was in it, but now I'm wondering if that's enough of a reason to watch a film.
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Wide-scream at Columbia
ptb-826 March 2004
In a decade of great musicals from all studios, Columbia, in 1955 managed to make a truly terrible one....and it is this one...and was their first film in Cinemascope. Harry Cohn must have bellowed orders at someone to re make every Marilyn Monroe dance number so far on film at Fox but 'blondly' hire Betty Grable instead. It also might be Jack Lemmon's first film too. Either way, this embarrassing musical is a mish mash of MGM's Kiss Me Kate, Give A Girl A Break, The Bandwagon and Fox's How To Marry A Millionaire. I guess Columbia just wanted to make a splashy musical as their first Cinemascope spectacular ......but forgot to create they just copied the best bits of box office hits from the previous few years. It is really awful. If you like awful films like I do you might find it strangely fascinating...the musical numbers especially. Don't show it to anyone though, just watch it yourself.
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Blah Betty
drednm22 June 2007
This is a remake of TOO MANY HUSBANDS, which had starred Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray, and Melvyn Douglas. Here, we get a tepid musical with Betty Grable and Jack Lemmon and Gower Champion as the male leads. The plot has been dismissed in favor of some musical numbers oddly built around decades-old Gershwin songs. Marge Champion and Myron McCormick co-star.

Lemmon has been proclaimed dead in the war (which war?) so Grable marries Champion. Lemmon returns, and the guys battle over the hefty star while Marge look on is distress. In the original film, the ending is ambiguous with both guys still in Arthur's life. Here, she pairs off with Lemmon. Bleh.

Gower Champion might have been a good dancer and director but he's a zero as a romantic lead. So is Lemmon. Marge Champion (a terrific beard) looks like Bea Benaderet in corsets. The MGM darlings (the Champions) were a total bust in films. Grable was long past her prime and even though she's only 39 here, looks OLD and FAT.
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