Three Smart Girls Grow Up

THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP—the 1939 sequel to Deanna Durbin’s first picture, Three Smart Girls, which propelled Durbin to stardom in 1936. Rejoining her as sister ‘Joan’ was Nan Grey, while Helen Parrish replaced Barbara Read as ‘Kay’. Coming back for seconds were Charles Winninger as the father, Nella Walker as mom and Ernest Cossart as the family butler. As in the first one, the director was Henry Koster, with Joe Pasternak again producing, his $810,000 investment reaping $3,300,000, #61 in the ’39 rollout. It also propelled a new star in the form of Robert Cummings. *

‘Penny Craig’ (Durbin) and her two sisters get into bruising competition with one another when Kay falls for Nan’s fiancé and Nan’s attention strays from her intended to a charming guest, ‘Harry Loren’ (Cummings), who also strikes a spark with Penny. Penny then goes on matchmaker mode, but her emotions get the best of her intentions and the audience can only hope the right sis ends up with the correct fella. Since it’s a comedy with songs attached, of course they do.

Fun fluff with a bit of light drama for seasoning, expertly played by all, photographed with a warm sheen by Joseph A. Valentine, who gets the most out of the stars winning closeups and the plush sets they lark in. At 17, Durbin’s comic timing blooms, Grey, 21, is pretty as the proverbial peach (she married Frankie Laine) and ill-fated Parrish, all of 15 (she passed away at 35 from cancer) is soulful. Winninger is always a treat and Cummings makes a bright foil for the love-struck girls.

Written with snap by Felix Jackson and Bruce Manning. With William Lundigan, Felix Bressart and Grady Sutton. 90 minutes.

* The picture put 28-year-old striver Robert Cummings on the map after six years of fetch & carry roles, mostly in B-flicks. Koster on Cummings: “brilliant, wonderful… I made five pictures with him. I thought he was the best leading man I ever worked with. He had that marvelous comedy talent and also a romantic quality.” Cummings and Durbin reteamed to great silly effect in Spring Parade and It Started With Eve.

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