review for Three Smart Girls on AllMovie

Three Smart Girls (1936)
by Craig Butler review

A mere footnote to most modern day viewers, in her day Deanna Durbin was a tremendously popular star, whose appeal is often credited with pulling Universal out of a sea of red ink. Her debut feature, Three Smart Girls, established her as a cute, wholesome teen-ager who also happens to have a truly impressive operatic voice. Durbin was never an especially imposing actress, but rarely was she asked to be. Girls certainly doesn't tax her, but it does showcase her very engaging personality and presents a lightweight story that makes up in charm what it lacks in significance (or believability). Henry Koster directs in a fluid, easygoing style that makes the material seem simple rather than simplistic, and there's a genial air to the whole enterprise which is hard to resist. Durbin is in very good voice, with a marvelous "My Heart is Singing" and a stunning "Il Bacio." She is well supported by Nan Grey and Barbara Read- they have a rapport makes them credible as sisters -- and Charles Winninger, Alice Brady and Binnie Barnes are all in good form. A delightful film, Girls has aged much better than many other family-themed films from the same era.