Three Smart Girls Grow Up (1939)

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Released 7-Nov-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1939
Running Time 83:45
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Henry Koster

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Deanna Durbin
Charles Winninger
Nan Grey
Helen Parrish
Robert Cummings
William Lundigan
Nella Walker
Ernest Cossart
Felix Bressart
Bess Flowers
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Charles Previn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action and dialogue in credits.

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The fifth movie in Roadshow's local release of the nineteen disc The Deanna Durbin Collection is Three Smart Girls Grow Up, released by Universal in March 1939. The young star had turned seventeen at the end of 1938 and had achieved enormous popular success, with audiences clamouring to see this sequel to Deanna's initial hit, Three Smart Girls. Not up to the standard of her "debut" movie, nor the intervening other three, Three Smart Girls Grow Up did deliver the maturing young star doing what she did best - which evidently included whistling - and that was more than enough for her ever increasing multitude of fans.

    The movie opens with a truly delightful and imaginative behind credits sequence, which has the camera dollying along a hallway of the Craig mansion in front of the three girls who are striding eagerly along, dressed in full party gear. Here once again are the three Craig daughters, Penelope/Penny, the youngest (Deanna Durbin), Joan (Nan Grey) and Kay (Helen Parrish replacing Barbara Read). Their parents Judson and Dorothy (Charles Winninger and Nella Walker) are announcing the engagement of Joan to Richard Watkins (William Lundigan), much to the distress of Kay who is also in love with the handsome Richard. Little Miss Fixit, Penny, seeks a "tall, dark and handsome" young man for Kay and finds a prospect in fellow music student, Harry Loren (Robert Cummings). Penny invites Harry to dinner - an amusing lesson sequence with their music teacher played by Felix Bressart - and here he meets her two sisters. Penny repeatedly tries to manoeuvre Kay and Harry together, but there's a major problem. It is not Kay that Harry is attracted to but Joan, and Joan reciprocates! Penny is outraged at Richard's flirting with her engaged sister, and orders him out of the house. As he is indignantly storming out the door there is a truly hilarious sequence involving two coats, two hats, Richard, Mr Craig and Binns the Butler, played to perfection by Ernest Cossart. This becomes a welcome running gag through to the end of the movie.

    Despite the calamitous end to the dinner party everything is resolved happily at the final fadeout, due to the constant meddling of Little Miss Fixit - a stereotype Deanna Durbin came to loathe. This should be the lightest fluff and nonsense, but the screenplay by Bruce Manning and Felix Jackson dwells a little too long on the romantic angst of the girls. The star acquits herself well and injects as much bounce and verve as the screen will contain, but the scenes with the three girls do let the film down. Nan Grey is a very attractive blonde, but Helen Parrish,  normally cast as a very glamorous vixen, here is distinctly drab for most of the film's length. Deanna seemed to work better in her earlier films with an older, more experienced male partner, such as Herbert Marshall, Adolphe Menjou and the wonderful Melvyn Douglas. Indeed, her most effective scene in this film is with the then fifty-five years young Charles Winninger to whom she sings The Last Rose of Summer. Winninger is at his best in his reactions to her. This is a very touching scene, and Deanna is once again beautifully photographed by Joseph Valentine. Robert Cummings injects some considerable humour into the proceedings - as well as playing piano admirably. William Lundigan just stands around and looks handsome. Nella Walker partners Winninger effectively , and Bess Flowers, The Queen of the Hollywood Extras, appears as a secretary, even getting lines, six of them! (78:35)

    For this film no new songs were commissioned, the producer, for the fifth time Joe Pasternak, falling back on the light classical repertoire. As well as the truly beautiful The Last Rose of Summer (Thomas Moore / Richard Alfred Milliken) we are offered Invitation to the Dance (Weber / Henderson), La Capinera (The Wren) (Sir Julius Benedict) and, for the finale, Because (Edward Teschemaker / Guy D'Hardelot). I found Because spoilt by the continual cutting away to action in order to resolve the plot. A strange production decision which must have aggravated audiences in 1939. The musical experience is rounded out by the always attractive score by Charles Previn and the usual accomplished arrangements of Frank Skinner.

    Progressing through this mammoth - though not complete - collection, it is fascinating to watch the talented soprano maturing from film to film. Three Smart Girls Grow Up is a mild disappointment after the exceptional pleasures of the four previous films, but the star herself does not disappoint. In 1939 young girls were buying Deanna Durbin dress-up dolls and the movie-going world was still in love with its lovely teenage soprano.


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Transfer Quality


    This film is almost seventy years old and the transfer looks exceptionally good making for a very satisfactory viewing experience.
    The image is presented in a 4x3 transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the original presentation having been 1.37:1.
    The image is mostly sharp and clean  with no low level noise, a very small amount of grain and a very pleasing grey scale. Blacks are deep and there are no flaring whites.
    There is the occasional dark scene in the girls' bedroom at night (17:00 for example) when the image does become distinctly murky, but these are rare and brief.
     I was not aware of any film-to-video artefacts. No aliasing, even on Venetian blinds.
    Film artefacts are limited to the intermittent white fleck, but there is nothing that is distracting.
    There has been very slight damage with in the last reel maybe one or two frames lost (71:30).This is very minor and I had to go back to check that my eyes weren't playing tricks.

    There are no subtitles and the disc is single layered.


Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The sixty-nine year old audio track is in very good condition.
    There is only one audio track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 reproduction of the original mono Western Electric Noiseless Recording.
    The dialogue is clear and sharp with not one syllable indistinct and no sync problems. Deanna Durbin's visuals match the pre-recorded vocals perfectly.
    There appears to be no doctoring of the soundtrack at all. There is at times a very slight background rumble which is barely audible. There is also the occasional crackle or pop. These comments aside, the quality of the sound is extremely good, sharp and vibrant, the original musical scoring sounding most attractive. There is very slight distortion on the loudest vocal passages, but I would rather have these very slight "imperfections", which are in no way distracting, than lose the dynamism of the sound as a whole.
     There are no dropouts.


Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The box set contains a Sixteen Page Souvenir Booklet.
    Apart from this booklet and the Stills Galleries on five of the titles - no gallery on Three Smart Girls Grow Up - there are no other extras on the entire nineteen discs, not even a trailer. The reverse of the slick for Three Smart Girls Grow Up contains small reproductions of eight stills and one poster.
    The picture disc reproduces the title's cover.


    All menu screens are 4x3.

    The main menu design is extremely basic. The screen comprises two stills from the film, with orchestral music from the credits of the film.
    The options are :
        Play Film
        Scene Index: Selecting this option gives a new screen with two further stills and a list of ten scenes. No thumbnails, no sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


    There is no current release of Three Smart Girls Grow Up in Region 1.
    The nineteen title box set is available in Region 2 where it is more than double the Australian price. Three Smart Girls Grow Up is also available separately, as well as being included in the five disc set The Deanna Durbin Collection : Box 2 along with First Love, Can't Help Singing, The Amazing Mrs Holliday and For the Love of Mary.


     Three Smart Girls Grow Up is a bit of a disappointment after the outstanding quality of the four preceding movies. Nevertheless, this is still great entertainment with enough high spots to make you forgive the occasional dull patches. Deanna Durbin continues to delight and Robert Cummings and Charles Winninger add to the enjoyment. A very good transfer with good sound.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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