Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) 720p

Movie Poster
Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) bluray - Movie Poster
Comedy | Musical
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
90 min
IMDB Rating:
6.8 / 10 
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Directors: Henry Koster [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Now that their parents are back together, the Craig girls think life is going to be easy. It is, until Kay falls in love with Joan's fiance! Complications arise when youngest sister Penny tries to find Joan a new boyfriend so that Kay and Richard can be together.


  • Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) bluray - Movie Scene 1
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  • Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) bluray - Movie Scene 1

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Depression Era Escapist Fluff for Teens

With high unemployment, long bread lines, and home foreclosures rampant outside the theaters, Depression-era teens sought light escapist entertainment on date nights. A sequel to 1936's "Three Smart Girls," "Three Smart Girls Grow Up" is about as light and undemanding a piece of fluff that audiences could ask for. The wealthy Craig family includes three marriageable sisters, Penny, Joan, and Kay. The film begins with Joan's engagement to a handsome blonde young man named Richard. All seems bliss, but the meddlesome Penny inadvertently discovers that Kay has been secretly in love with Richard all along and is distraught by her sister's upcoming wedding. Thus, instigated by the family butler, Penny becomes matchmaker, determined to find a beau for Kay. Unfortunately, the man that Penny finds, Harry, immediately becomes smitten with the already engaged Joan. Got that? Ah, the pain and agony of young love.

The rich high-society Craigs reside in a cavernous mansion with a mammoth foyer, a ballroom, and a sweeping grand staircase. However, despite the gargantuan abode, the three nearly mature young ladies must share a room, where secrets become common knowledge. A star vehicle for Universal's gold mine, Deanna Durbin, the film includes several opportunities for the young singer to musically shine. Dramatically, the young star plays the manipulative Penny with confidence, although viewers may want to give her a good smack and send her to her room without dinner well before the movie ends.

The supporting cast is competent, but, with the exception of Charles Winniger as Penny's addled father, none are memorable. Penny's two pretty sisters do not register, and the two young suitors, played by William Lundigan and Robert Cummings, are handsome enough to be convincing heartthrobs, but their roles are undemanding. The thin storyline is predictable from the first scene and generally plays out amusingly. However, occasional annoying patches surface as Penny becomes tiresome by intruding into the lives of her sisters and their suitors. "Three Smart Girls Grow Up" is not on a par with the best Deanna Durbin vehicles, but worthy entertainment nevertheless for fans of her voice and upbeat demeanor.

Not quite up to the original

Although it's meant to be a sequel to 'Three Smart Girls,' this film starts out with a clean slate, so to speak - we have the same family but there's no references to anything that happened in the earlier film, and to make way for the older sisters' romantic woes, their charming original love interests are completely out of the picture. The plot is entertaining, but seems just a trifle improbable in places - it may be only my personal opinion, but the sisters seemed to match better with the men Deanna originally tries to set them up with before the mix-ups begin! The scene during the wedding preparations bothered me a little bit too - why does no one have the nerve to call it off if they know they're not going to be happy? The brightest spot in the film is Robert Cummings, all of whose scenes just sparkle. He has great chemistry with Deanna, and some wonderfully hilarious scenes with the family butler. Charles Winninger as the father is also uniformly enjoyable throughout. Helen Parrish is a little bit subdued as the middle sister, but she has one very touching scene in which she tearfully advises her younger sister on not hiding her feelings for someone lest she lose him. It's a nice way to spend an hour or so and of course the musical numbers are great, but in my opinion the original 'Three Smart Girls' remains far superior.

Craig's Family Affairs

THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (Universal, 1939), directed by Henry Koster, is a continuing story about the trials and tribulations of New York City's daughters of high society, the three Craig Sisters, first introduced in THREE SMART GIRLS (1936). Three years later, the sisters, mature and vibrant, as portrayed by Deanna Durbin (the talented singer), Nan Grey (the attractive blonde) and Helen Parrish (enacting the role originally enacted by brunette Barbara Read), along with Charles Winninger and Nella Walker as their parents, this original screenplay by Bruce Manning and Felix Jackson, is almost reminiscent to the Fannie Hurst's based story, FOUR DAUGHTERS (Warners, 1938) that served as a star attraction for both the Lane Sisters and Gale Page in the title roles, where romantic problems revolve around two of the four sisters in love with the same man. For this well intentioned sequel, two of the "three smart girls" encounter similar situations, but less dramatically.

The story opens with the credit titles imposed over Kay (Helen Parrish) and Joan (Nan Grey) rehearsing their younger sister, Penny (Deanna Durbin), on how to address her birthday party guests with "How do you do?" and correctly pronouncing the name of the visiting Mrs. Kithaven (Kathleen Howard), a friend of the family who's not really "dead." As Penny entertains with her singing, Bostonian Richard M. Watkins II (William Lundigan) proposes marriage to Joan. While this is pleasing news for everyone, Kay, who is secretly in love with Richard, holds in her true emotions. Penny discovers something terribly wrong when she sees Kay placing her diary that expresses her true feelings for Richard into the fireplace and crying herself to sleep. The next morning, Penny stumbles upon an idea from Binns (Ernest Cossart), the family servant, by obtaining a new beau for Kay so she'll forget the one she loved and lost. Penny locates one in a music school she attends, Harry Loren (Robert Cummings), a flute player in the orchestra formerly from New Hampshire, whom she feels to resemble that of actor "Clark Gable." Inviting him over for dinner so she can play matchmaker, Penny finds Richard paying more attention to Joan than to Kay, and for this orders him from the house, much to the surprise the family. Plans continue to backfire for Penny as she intends to set things right, causing the embarrassed Kay to publicly give her intrusive sister a facial slap in front of Richard, thus, bringing some very hard feelings and unhappiness for all, especially on the eve of Joan's wedding.

While THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP gives indication of being a story devoted equally to the Craig sisters, which it actually is, the main emphasis is on Deanna Durbin as it was in her first starring role, THREE SMART GIRLS, as the kid sister making every effort getting her divorced parents together again. With the parents united again, they're hardly together this time around, with Mother busy with society functions and wedding preparations, and Judson, "The Wizard of Wall Street," keeping his absent-mindedness more towards business and long distance phone calls from Paris. The scene where Penny has her father realize how out of touch he is with family troubles is so well written that it comes close to ringing true, though much of the story is a screenwriter's notion of a rich American family.

Other highlights within the story include Durbin's singing of "Invitation to the Dance" (by Carl Maria Von Weber); "Faradoe" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; "The Last Rose of Summer" by Richard Allen-Miller and Thomas Moore; and "Because" by Guy D'Hardelot and Edward Techemoschler. Robert Cummings takes part with some piano playing to a composition by Johann Strauss. Supporting players consist of Felix Bressart (The Music Teacher); Thurston Hall (The Senator); along with familiar stock players as Grady Sutton, William B. Davidson, Charles Coleman, Jack Mulhall and John Hamilton assuming smaller roles.

As entertaining as THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP can be, which can't compete with other 1939 blockbusters, it certainly ranks one of the finer ones of the year. In spite of limited television revivals (on PBS) that turned up in the 1980s, and distribution to home video in 1995, this latest edition on the Craig sisters is as forgotten as its third installment, HERS TO HOLD (1943), with Durbin, Winninger and Walker once again playing the Craigs, but without her two older sisters. Overall, THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP is further indication of how a simple story can work itself to a fine motion picture. (***1/2)
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