Three on a Match (1932)

 “She’ll probably go to reform school.”

threeThree on a Match is the story of three schoolgirls who lose touch with each other, but reunite by chance a few years later. Mary (Joan Blondell) is the wild one who gets in trouble and ends up in a reform school. Ruth (Bette Davis) is the serious, quiet one who becomes a stenographer. Vivian (Ann Dvorak) is the popular, pretty girl. With just a few brief scenes, the plot establishes the basic character of each girl, and then shows how each girl is essentially still the same in adulthood.

When the three women–now adults–meet in New York, Vivian is married to the highly successful lawyer Robert Kirkwood (Warren William). While Ruth and Mary envy Vivian’s social position, her chauffeur driven car etc., they also feel that she’s incredibly lucky to have such a nice husband. Vivian, however, is bored to tears by her husband and her lifestyle. She’s the sort of person who never appreciates the good things in life because they fall into her lap so easily. Vivian’s pouting results in her husband suggesting that she needs a holiday. Vivian packs up the couple’s only son and heads for a ship sailing to Europe.

Unfortunately, Vivian meets a lowlife gangster Michael Loftus (Lyle Taylor) and jumps right into disaster….

Three on a Match is a pre-code film made in 1932. It’s a bit sentimental, but well acted. A tight plot, and a stellar cast create a delightful film. Bette Davis has only a tiny role, and Humphrey Bogart also stars in a small (but memorable) role as gangster, Harve.

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