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    Three Little Girls in Blue DVD Review

    DVD Fox

    Sep 28 2013 04:18 PM | Matt Hough in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    Unmarried, penniless girls on the prowl for millionaires: it was a plot that 20th Century Fox used for at least four major films, and H. Bruce Humberstone’s Three Little Girls in Blue, while maybe not as famous as the later How to Marry a Millionaire, emerges as perhaps the most charming cinematic incarnation of the story. With top flight talent, a lovely and inventive score, and the kind of high gloss glitz that only the major Hollywood studios could provide at the time, Three Little Girls in Blue has much to recommend it.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Fox
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 480I/MPEG-2
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Audio: English 2.0 DD
    • Subtitles: None
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: 1 Hr. 30 Min.
    • Package Includes: DVD
    • Case Type: Amray case
    • Disc Type: DVD-R
    • Region: All
    • Release Date: 08/23/2013
    • MSRP: $19.98

    The Production Rating: 4/5

    Sisters Pam (June Haver), Liz (Vivian Blaine), and Myra (Vera-Ellen) Charters take their $3,000 inheritance from an aunt and use it to pose as a high society lady, her secretary, and her maid in Atlantic City in the hopes that Pam can catch an eligible millionaire for a husband and then find suitable matches later for her sisters. Two men immediately make a beeline for Pam: Steve (Frank Latimore) and Van (George Montgomery), but while Steve is really the millionaire, Van is the one Pam really flips for. Liz has a secret crush on Steve herself, but she says nothing and doesn’t act on it for fear of ruining the plan. Meanwhile Myra falls for the hotel bellhop Mike (Charles Smith), and since they’re both on the same social plane, make no pretense about being attracted to one another.

    The score this time around was furnished by Mack Gordon (who also produced) and Josef Myrow, (Moon Over Miami with basically the same plot five years earlier used a different songwriting team), and they turned out a few memorable standards: “On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City” (which became a kind of unofficial theme song for the city), “Somewhere in the Night” (given a heartfelt, dreamy rendition by Vivian Blaine), and “You Make Me Feel So Young,” the film’s crowning achievement spotlighting as it does the absolutely stupendous dancing talents of Vera-Ellen (who’s dubbed in the film by Carol Stewart, a simply amazing voice double for the star). In this dream ballet, Vera executes tap, ballet, and acrobatic jazz and proves herself peerlessly versatile even if the script does give her only the unexceptional Charles Smith as a vis-à-vis. Vera-Ellen also has another spotlight moment: a lively song and dance “I Like Mike” as she dresses for a date (the choreography is by Seymour Felix). The other two star “sisters” get only one big moment apiece to show their musical gifts: Miss Blaine in the above mentioned ballad and June Haver and George Montgomery (dubbed by Ben Gage) in the flirty up tempo “Oh, My Love.” Celeste Holm, fresh from Broadway triumphs in Oklahoma! and Bloomer Girl, makes her film debut in the last half hour as the man-eating sister of the groom-to-be-Steve. Her “Always a Lady” allows the soon-to-be Oscar winner a chance to mimic some of her Ado Annie comic inflections from Oklahoma! with a surprisingly effective soprano extension which she used in some of her Bloomer Girl numbers (but never this impressively). With spirited direction by Bruce Humberstone and an impressive physical production (the costumes by Bonnie Cashin are especially eye-catching), the movie offers many pleasures that supersede the superficial, over-familiar plot.

    After making such a hit in The Dolly Sisters the year before, June Haver was obviously on track to become the heiress apparent to Betty Grable at Fox, but it just never really happened in a big way for her. Her singing is more than adequate, and she can handle the dialogue well enough, but there’s not much sparkle there. Vivian Blaine, who had also had a big hit the year before with State Fair, offers a smooth, easygoing contralto, but her comic chops wouldn’t be exploited until Guys and Dolls on the stage in a few years. George Montgomery and Frank Latimore (dubbed by Bob Scott) offer nice looking but fairly empty beaux for the two ladies, neither one being given much in the way of comedy or real romance in parts that are more set dressing than flesh and blood characters. Celeste Holm completely steals the show once she appears, but the film is more than two-thirds over before she graces it with her presence.

    Video Rating: 2/5 3D Rating: NA

    The film is presented in its theatrical 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Like another Fox Archive release Wabash Avenue, much of the imagery is too dark making certain scenes shot in darkened rooms almost indecipherable with their crushed blacks. The original Technicolor elements had long since been junked and now are a very pale (and often washed out looking) imitation with the Eastmancolor materials which are left to work with. Sharpness is well above average, but the lack of clean-up for these MOD films means there are plenty of specks, a scratch here and there, occasional debris, and the reel change markers in full view. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so there are 10 chapters.

    Audio Rating: 2.5/5

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix is decoded by Dolby Prologic into the center channel. Though it’s a little on the loud side in terms of volume levels, it’s not quite as system threatening as previous Archive releases. The dialogue, music, and sound effects mix well enough without intruding on each other’s territory, but there is some hiss on occasion and more than a few loud pops and some noticeable hum later in the film.

    Special Features: 0/5

    The Fox Archive titles as a general rule have no bonus features, not even a trailer.

    Overall Rating: 3/5

    Three Little Girls in Blue, a typical frothy confection from Fox of the postwar period, is a musical that deserves better handling than it has been given in this slapdash Archive release. With only adequate sound reproduction and video quality that leaves much to be desired, this is not a release one can recommend even for fans of the movie.

    Reviewed by: Matt Hough
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    • Doug Bull likes this


    5 Comments

    Thank you Matt for the great review of this forgotten gem of a movie and the accuracy in describing the abysmal quality of the disc.

     

    Will we ever see a decent version of this very enjoyable musical?  I fear not.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Photo
    Clyde's Place
    Sep 28 2013 05:53 PM

    On the one hand we have the AFI wanting us to contribute to film preservation.

    On the other hand we have Fox continuing to trash it's own library.  I guess I shouldn't blame the AFI for Fox Archive shortcomings which seem to get worse with every forum and review I read.

    If the picture quality had been half-way decent I would have bought this disc.

      • Everett Stallings likes this

    If the picture quality had been half-way decent I would have bought this disc.

    Great review Matt, but I am very disappointed to learn the video/ sound reproduction is so poor. I agree with Robin9 and would have bought this if it had been half-way decent. Another beautiful song written for this movie, but cut was This is Always. I know the soundtrack recording by June Haver still exists. I wonder if the footage is extant in Fox's vaults if it was filmed.

    I'll wait for TCM to air it.  Then I can make a DVD-r and have as good as this MOD.