Three on a Match (1932)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Oct 29, 1932 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 64 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hans J. Wollstein

Although she figures prominently on the cover art for the video release of Three on a Match, a very young and very blond Bette Davis has very little to do other than fill out Swedish industrialist Ivar Kreuger's infamous prophecy. By the end of this typical pre-Production Code drama, we know very little about Davis' character, other than she is a most competent woman who, through no fault of her own, loses her valuable charge to a gang of kidnappers. In contrast, we have learned a great deal more about Joan Blondell, who does her usual chorus girl-turned-society wife routine, and Ann Dvorak, the two other girls sharing that notorious match. The latter, an unfairly neglected actress, remains the drama's focal point and although we suspect that she won't stay that way, is quite believable as the bored wife of a busy attorney. There was always something disturbing about Dvorak, whatever character she was given to play, and her fall from grace here is not quite as surprising as screenwriter Lucien Hubbard may have hoped. The dark-eyed Dvorak was really more "street" than "parlor" and she plays her descent into cocaine addiction with little or no vanity. Said addiction is almost shockingly commented on by gangster Humphrey Bogart, who dismisses Dvorak's ill temper by gesturing to his nose, a "bit of business" not permitted after July of 1934 when the Code became strictly enforced.