Three Smart Girls [1936]

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

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