Weighing in at 63 minutes, Three on a Match packs enough pre-code “ripped-from-the-headlines” Warner Bros. modern society grit to make Stanley Kramer cry. I've only ever seen it tiny and loved it then, so when I saw Joan Blondell, 25 feet tall, take the stairs in the reform school scene I was in heaven. It’s not a great picture, but it’s an important one. The women are real, flawed, and sympathetic — even the bored socialite whose terrible decisions are redeemed by one terribly correct one.
It's the story of three classmates at a public school in New York who each grow up to carve out a life from the circumstances they're born in: a good-time girl (Joan Blondell, natch) who enjoys life, makes a few stupid choices, then finds her place on the stage; a practical girl (eventually Bette Davis), who heads straight for secretarial school and independence; and a well-heeled girl (first Anne Shirley, then Ann Dvorak), who has every advantage, but can't find happiness. The structure is very Dos Passos USA Trilogy, full of context-setting headlines and newsreel footage. I love it for it's sheer now-ness and for the fondness the women have for one another and the paths they take.
And in my humble O, it's Humphrey Bogart's most chilling, understated performance. He's thrilling, and is (dare I say) kind of hot in his shark-like coldness; something impossible for me to conceive of him after 1942.
Plus getting the book signed last night is the closest I’m ever going to get to Glenda Farrell.