Three Smart Girls

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Comedy/Musical/Romance, USA, 1936, 84 min.

Synopsis Joan, Kay and Penny Craig run away to New York from Switzerland with their housekeeper, Martha, after their mother tearfully informs them that their estranged father, Judson Craig, a New York banker, is marrying again. Judson is shocked when he receives the cable advising him of the arrival of his daughters, whom he has not seen in ten years, and sends his secretary, Wilbur Lamb, to meet the girls at the boat and take them to his house in Newport. He then meets his girl friend, golddigger Donna Lyons, for lunch and tells her about his children. The girls arrive at Judson's apartment without the help of Wilbur, and confess to Judson's valet, Binns, that they have come to prevent their father's marriage to Donna. Binns is secretly pleased and informs them of their father's whereabouts. The three girls cause a ruckus when they enter the elegant restaurant, and their shouts of delight at the sight of Judson embarrass Donna, who has no fondness for children and is as surprised as Judson to see that his little girls are now young women. Disgusted, Donna leaves the luncheon and returns home to her mother, who tells her she should have flattered the girls. At dinner that night, Donna takes her mother's advice, and although Penny is sent to bed early, Donna entertains the rest with a song. Judson's business assistant, Bill Evans, comes in and is amused to hear Joan and Kay whispering venomously about Donna. When Penny starts moving her bed around upstairs, interrupting Donna's song, Judson goes up to reprimand her, but instead ends up enjoying a joke with her. Judson's renewed interest in his daughters distresses Donna and Mrs. Lyons, who privately ask him to send the girls home immediately. Judson reluctantly agrees to this plan, but finds himself unable to tell his daughters of his decision after listening to Penny's beautiful singing voice. Late that night, Wilbur finally arrives to tell Judson that he could not find the girls at the dock, and Judson fires him. The next day, with the girls' approval, Bill hires the penniless, alcoholic Count Arisztid to impersonate a wealthy aristocrat and lure Donna away from Judson. That evening, the count goes to a nightclub to meet the girls as arranged, but sees an old friend and drops the magazine that was to signal the girls of his arrival. The magazine is picked up by Lord Michael Stuart, a wealthy banker, who, unknown to Kay, had seen her earlier at a hotel and fallen in love with her at first sight. Kay mistakes Michael for the count, and to please her, he goes along with her instructions to woo Donna and arranges to meet Donna the next day for lunch. Meanwhile, the count has become hopelessly drunk and leaves the club. In the morning, Michael sends flowers to both Kay and Donna, and asks Kay to come to his apartment as he will need money and instructions on how to behave toward Donna. In reality, Michael just wants to see Kay, who is also falling in love with him in spite of the fact that she still believes he is an unemployed lush. Michael and Kay go for a walk in the park, and he stands Donna up. Judson calls Donna at home, and when Mrs. Lyons says that Donna is ill, Judson goes for a surprise visit. Mrs. Lyons tries to make excuses for Donna, who is waiting at the restaurant for Michael, but Donna suddenly appears, and Judson proposes that they marry the next day in Atlantic City. Mrs. Lyons ensures that the wedding is announced in all the newspapers, and Joan and Penny dejectedly tell Bill that the count has been too busy flirting with Kay to be effective with Donna. Bill becomes enraged, as he has just given the count more money and is unaware that it is Michael, not the count, who has been working for them. He beats up the count and enjoys Joan's concerned and tender ministrations to his wounds. Kay rushes to Michael's apartment, as she believes he has been hurt by Bill, but he is unscathed, and she finally realizes that he is not the count. When she discovers his lie, Kay angrily blames him for her father's impending marriage and leaves. Michael immediately meets with Donna and protests that she went to the wrong restaurant. Then after telling her his happiness depends on her, he gives her two tickets for a cruise on which he will be sailing. That night, having heard that Mrs. Craig is due to arrive soon, Penny tearfully tells Judson she cannot bear to see her mother made unhappy by his marriage, and he kindly consoles her. In the morning, Penny runs away, and Judson frantically phones the police. When he tells Donna that their marriage must be delayed, Mrs. Lyons begins to argue with him, driving him to rescind the engagement altogether. Donna and Mrs. Lyons board the ship just before it sails, only to discover that Michael never had any intention of joining them. The police return Penny to Judson, and Penny is overjoyed to hear that Donna is gone for good. After Michael arrives to prove his love for Kay, everyone meets Mrs. Craig as she disembarks from her voyage, and as Penny looks on approvingly, Mr. and Mrs. Craig hold hands.

Directed by Henry Koster  

Starring Binnie Barnes, Charles Winninger, Alice Brady, Ray Milland, Mischa Auer, more...

Movie awards
1936, Nominace na Oskara, Best picture

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