Monday, June 15, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Longtime readers know I'm a huge fan of Deanna Durbin -- she's even been my Twitter avatar for the entirety of the past decade.

I watched almost all of Deanna's films on VHS a decade or more ago; I've rewatched several favorites in the years since, but I'm really thrilled to now be revisiting more of her films on Blu-ray thanks to Kino Lorber.

Last week Kino Lorber released the three-film Deanna Durbin Collection I, consisting of ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (1937), THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP (1939), and IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941). My understanding is that two more Durbin sets will follow later in the year.

I first saw THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP in 2009, and I can't express the great pleasure it gave me to see it again.

The movie is a loose sequel to Deanna's first huge hit THREE SMART GIRLS (1936). The first time I saw THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP I was a bit baffled by the changes which took place in the second film; Barbara Read was replaced by Helen Parrish as one of Deanna's older sisters, and her sisters' love interests (including handsome Ray Milland) have disappeared.

This time around I knew to expect that, and instead I delighted in the presence of Parrish, an actress I've always liked, and the charming story featuring handsome young William Lundigan and Robert Cummings.

Deanna, as youngest sister Penny, spends most of the movie trying to fix the love lives of sisters Kay (Parrish) and Joan (Nan Grey). Joan has just become engaged to Richard (Lundigan), which breaks Kay's heart, as she's secretly in love with Richard herself; meanwhile Joan is confused by her powerful attraction to Harry (Cummings).

I confess that as the film's 90 minutes came to an end, my eyes filled with tears of joy; I was tremendously moved by the combination of Deanna's lovely singing and the story's happy ending. Perhaps it's the stressful times we're experiencing, but this movie was precisely what I needed right now. I can't wait to watch the other two films in the set!

Deanna continues to impress me as one of the most unique and special screen stars in movie history. She exudes charisma and confidence and could do it all, playing comedy and drama with equal skill; most importantly, when she sings it's simply magic.

It's curious to me that today she's not quite as well known as other stars, and I hope these new Blu-ray releases will win Deanna enthusiastic new audiences. She more than deserves it.

THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP was directed by Henry Koster. It was shot in black and white by Joseph Valentine. The script was by Bruce Manning, who wrote several of Deanna's films, and Felix Jackson, who was later married to Deanna from 1945 to 1949. The movie was produced by Joe Pasternak.

As a side note, a few years later Deanna would play the adult Penny in a third film, HERS TO HOLD (1943), which has not had a home video or DVD release in the United States.

The top supporting cast of THREE SMART GIRLS GROW UP also includes Charles Winninger, Nella Walker, Ernest Cossart, Felix Bressart, Charles Coleman, Mary Treen, Milton Kibbee, Grady Sutton, Thurston Hall, Mary Forbes, Doris Lloyd, Bess Flowers, and the Reverend Neal Dodd.

The Kino Lorber print has a beautiful picture and sound. The disc includes the trailer along with two additional trailers for films available from Kino Lorber.

It's worth noting here that the other two films in this set both have commentary tracks. I'll be reviewing both those movies here at a future date.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Thank you for letting me know what has been missing in my life these days. I need Winnipeg's Sweetheart. She may have gotten bored after a while, but we're lucky she played "Little Miss Fixit."

4:42 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you can watch Deanna very soon!!

Best wishes,

9:54 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

I've seen three Deanna Durbin pictures. LADY ON A TRAIN wasn't bad and her performance was fine. I was very impressed by her performance in CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY. She even manages to do the femme fatale thing. And FIRST LOVE was a delight. So yeah, I'd have to count myself as a bit of a Deanna Durbin fan. THREE SMART GIRLS is currently on my shopping list.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

DforDoom, I'm always happy to hear when someone else has enjoyed Deanna Durbin! LADY ON A TRAIN is a favorite of mine. CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY is one of just a couple Durbin films I haven't seen yet. Looking forward to it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Best wishes,

5:17 PM  

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