Three on a Match (1932)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Starring - Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, Lyle Talbot, Humphrey Bogart, Allen Jenkins, Edward Arnold, Warren William
Glenda Farrell plays a small part which is uncredited as Vivian’s friend in prison. Jack La Rue, Ann Shirley and Jack Webb are also in the film in small parts.
Gowns by Orry-Kelly
The little girl with the best grades winds up in the worst circumstance in later life. Her two friends try to help her.
This is a pre-code drama with Ann Dyvorak as a married woman, not only running away with Lyle Talbot, but taking her child with her. She becomes a coke addict and eventually commits suicide to save her child.
Dvorak was the last of the women to be cast. At the time of the realease of the film, the Lindbergh kidnapping was in the news and the kidnappers had not been caught. The film did not do very well however, and cinema owners were told to focus on the cast in their marketing and not to even mention the kidnapping. The reviewer for the NYT called the film “tedious and distasteful” as well as “unintelligent.”
This was Bogart’s first released film as a bad guy. You can understand why they kept casting him as such. He has a murderous stare and tries to get the other bad guys to kill the kid as just a part of doing business.
The film uses young actors to portray the three girls in grammar school (this is where Ann Shirley comes in). And then there is repeated use of news footage montages to mark the passage of time. Some people found these montages clever, but I thought they got a bit tedious.
According to an article in TCM
· This film was made at a time when Warner Brothers was basically running a factory assembly line of movies in the early thirties.
· Blondell, Davis and Bogart were relative newcomers who only became famous later.
· Davis and Blondell had only supporting roles.
· Davis later complained that the director, LeRoy, spent the entire shooting talking about what a great dramatic star Blondell was going to be and virtually ignored Davis. She also experienced unwanted sexual advances from Williams who was known for such behavior.
· Davis resented this “bland sister” part and felt that she was never going to get away from these roles. It’s almost tempting to wonder why her character was even included in the story.
· LeRoy later wrote an autobiography and admitted having told the press that he didn’t think Davis was going to make it as an actress. “She’s been cold to me every since.” He said.
· It was three years after this film before Davis gave her breakout performance in “Of Human Bondage.”
· It would take Bogart until 1936 and “Petrified Forest” before he got any critical acclaim.
Sources: TCM, Wikipedia, IMDB