What a lovely little comedy! Three sisters, Joan, Kay and Penny, live in Switzerland with their mother, who’s been divorced from their father for ten years. When they hear that their father may be getting remarried, the girls run off to New York in an attempt to stop the marriage and reunite their parents. With a little help, they concoct a zany plan to have a poor man steal away the gold-digging Miss Lyons from their father, but identities are mistaken and love stirs up where it wasn’t planned.
This is such a well worked comedy; it’s not over-the-top, not too much slapstick and is full of witty zingers and one-liners. The comedy works so well, partially because there is good chemistry between the actors. The three sisters fight and argue just like real sisters and can rally together just as well. Just as the title suggests, they’re smart. They think on their feet, stick to their plan as best they can and deliver some witty dialogue naturally.
My only complaint is the amount of pointless singing. Well, I guess the point was to show off the new talent, Deanna Durbin and her beautiful voice. Kudos to her, but she just slips a song in for the sake of taking up five minutes to sing. It completely puts the story on hold while the camera just watches her face sing. Had her songs even commented on the plot, I’d try to appreciate them more.
Besides the pointless singing, I truly enjoyed this film. There were some real duds in ’36, but this wasn’t one. Three Smart Girls is surprisingly funny without letting the romance ruin any of the fun. It’s short too (only 84 minutes) so there isn’t that fear of commitment, like you might get with The Great Zeigfeld.
“-Do you realize that I have guests downstairs, that Miss Lyons was singing? I thought the ceiling would come down!
– Why didn’t you stop her?”