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Three Smart Girls [VHS]

4.6 out of 5 stars 160 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Binnie Barnes, Charles Winninger, Alice Brady, Ray Milland, Mischa Auer
  • Directors: Henry Koster
  • Writers: Adele Comandini, Albert R. Perkins, Austin Parker, Boyce DeGaw, Isabel Dawn
  • Producers: Charles R. Rogers
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Universal Studios Ho
  • VHS Release Date: January 17, 1995
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303328164
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,357 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Universal wasted no time in exploiting 14-year-old Deanna Durbin's star power; after screening the dailies from her feature debut, Three Smart Girls, studio execs expanded Durbin's supporting role and doubled the budget. Their investment paid off: this breezy comedy-musical, about a young singer determined to reunite her parents, earned a then-extraordinary $2 million and three Oscar nominations (including Best Picture).

Durbin's charm, good songs, and a solid supporting cast (including Alice Brady, Mischa Auer, and Charles Winninger) make Girls a delight many decades later. It's also a notch above the affable sequel, Three Smart Girls Grow Up. --Steven Smith

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bobby Underwood VINE VOICE on May 2, 2005
Format: DVD
Deanna Durbin is one of the most fondly remembered stars in the history of American movies. Perhaps it is because we never think of her as part of Hollywood, and neither did she. Though MGM may have changed the name of this young and happy girl with the beautiful voice to Deanna, she was always Edna May Durbin on the inside, a real person. That warmth and sincerity came across on the screen and gave her something no one else had.

It was lucky for us that MGM unceremoniously dropped Durbin in favor of Judy Garland. What happened to her would never have succeeded with Durbin due to Deanna's personality, her closeness to her big sister Edith, and her parent's watchfulness. But she certainly would have walked away from Hollywood long before she did, so we can all be grateful MGM let her get away.

When Universal signed her it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Only when they saw the rushes from Three Smart Girls did they expand her role, and the rest as they say, is screen history. The film broke box office records, earning over 10 million dollars for the studio and putting them firmly back in the black.

It was really radio star Eddie Cantor who had made this possible. After Jack Sherrill brought Deanna in for an audition, Cantor took the young Durbin under his wing and gave her a three year contract at one hundred dollars a week. Cantor knew talent when he saw it, and his hundreds of thousands of listeners came to love the golden voice of this Canadian born songbird.

Deanna Durbin grew up in front of the entire country, and they continued to love her, because they could tell she was real. She appreciated her fans, but loved music more than the movies. At 15 she had a 7-year contract with Universal and received 9,000 fan letters a week.
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Format: DVD
The four star rating is for the somewhat pedestrian quality of the transfers, not an indication on Durbin's alleged lack of singing/acting ability or appeal as the following commentary will demonstrate....

Deanna Durbin was one of the most influential and popular Hollywood stars of all time. As the world's first "Teen Idol" and the first child star to make the heretofore unsuccessful transition from child to adult roles while retaining her public and critical popularity, it was Deanna Durbin who first proved that an adolescent, even one with an astonishingly mature operatic lyric soprano, could be a potent and enduring box office attraction. The only performer in film history to be publicly credited with singlehandedly saving her studio (Universal) from bankruptcy and sustaining it as a Hollywood player for several years with the wildly successful grosses of her films, as film historians such as William K. Everson, David Shipman and Ethan Mordden have stated, Durbin remained, throughout her thirteen year tenure at Universal, the studio's most lucrative and valuable asset and its only consistently ranking box office star.

It was the great critical and popular acclaim accorded Durbin's debut in THREE SMART GIRLS and her subsequent vehicles (both THREE SMART GIRLS and Durbin's second film 100 MEN AND A GIRL received Oscar nominations for Best Picture) over the next several years that prompted MGM and other studios to begin assembling and promoting their own stable of charismatic and talented young performers.
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Format: DVD
Deanna Durbin is a well-kept secret, but a secret with which you should become well acquainted. Her movies have great entertainment value, both from a comical standpoint, as well as Deanna's great singing skills. Not too many movies were able to combine these two factors and succeed.

Universal has done a decent job on these movies, something which is a bit of a surprise considering they have so many quality control problems with their Abbott & Costello series. I made it through all five movies without any stalls or skips.

The transfer for "Three Smart Girls" definitely could have used some attention. It is full of grain and film damage. The rest of the movies rate from average to excellent in their transfers. None of the movies are visually poor enough to be unwatchable, and that is a great thing, because these are movies you will want to watch over and over.

Universal's biggest problem with this set is the packaging, which is horrendous. A loose flyer is inserted in the package, which undoubtedly will become lost or damaged over time. The package itself has no sleeve in which to insert it, so it springs open unless placed between other packages on a shelf. All in all, a very poor design.

It is doubtful these movies will ever see another release on DVD, so don't pass up the opportunity to see them. They are delightful, and getting six movies for this price is still a bargain, even if the packaging is poorly designed and the transfers aren't perfect.
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Format: DVD
First of all I have to admit that although I'm an ardent "classics" movie buff, I had never seen any of Deanna Durbin's movies, mainly because they were never shown on TV, at least in my country. Since I had read a lot about her persona, amazing voice, her status as Universal's prime superstar, etc., I was eager to watch her on film.

I got this wonderful package last year as a gift and sincerely, after watching the first of six feature films, I had to watch them all, as soon as possible, because I fell completely under the spell of Durbin's lovely screen persona: unaffected, sincere, pretty, down-to-earth, sweet, etc.

The films included in this collection are at least good and most of them very good. In spite of what I've read from other customers, I have to say that almost all the copies of the films are in very good condition, with the only exception perhaps, of "Three Smart Girls", which is somewhat grainy and not so sharp as the others, but then, it is the oldest of the lot (1936), and anyway is in pretty decent conditions.

"Three Smart Girls" is her best known film included here, because it was her breakthrough film, the one which made her a star, as a young girl-she is not even top billed here- who helps her elder sisters to try to bring their estranged parents together. There's some fine comedy, nice songs and expert supporting players.

In my humble opinion, the best films of the bunch are "First Love" (1939) and "It Started with Eve" (1941), both lovely Cinderella-type tales in which her natural talent and unaffected acting shine thoroughly.

There's also a "whodunit"-mystery film, "Lady On a Train" (1945), directed by her second husband, French director Charles-David, a fine and absorbing movie.
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