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Three Smart Girls(1936)

Sometimes everything just comes together at the right time. Producer Joseph Pasternak and director Henry Koster had just returned from Europe to Universal Studios, which was on the brink of bankruptcy. They were assigned a low-budget comedy about three daughters plotting to reunite their divorced parents and end their father’s engagement to a gold digger, all they needed was the right girl to play the youngest daughter. Pasternak heard that MGM had dropped a pretty young singer named Deanna Durbin. He snapped her up, threw in some songs to show off her classically trained soprano voice and had a new star on his hands. It helped greatly that the teenager made her feature debut in the kind of “Little Miss Fix It” role that had turned Shirley Temple into a top moneymaker at Twentieth Century-Fox. It also helped that he surrounded her with some top character actors including: Charles Winninger as the father; Binnie Barnes and Alice Brady as his fiancée and her mother, Mischa Auer as a drunken, penniless count and Ernest Cossart as daddy’s sympathetic valet. The film’s success saved the studio, made Durbin a star and led to her re-teaming with Pasternak for nine more films, five of them directed by Koster. (d. Henry Koster, 84m)

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