Friday, May 03, 2019

Three Little Girls in Blue (1946)

Who's in it?: Vera-Ellen (Wonder Man, The Kid from Brooklyn, White Christmas) and a bunch of other people.

What's it about?:Three sisters leave their New England farm to try to snag rich husbands in turn-of-the-century Atlantic City.

How is it?: Exploring the Danny Kaye filmography this year has led to my wanting to also explore Vera-Ellen's career. I've always been amazed at her dancing in White Christmas and was super pleased to see her feet put to great use in Kaye's Wonder Man and The Kid from Brooklyn. I want more.

Kaye isn't in Three Little Girls in Blue, so it's all on Vera-Ellen and the women who play her sisters: June Haver and Vivian Blaine. They're great. Haver is the oldest sister, June, who comes up with the idea to use some inheritance money to pretend to be wealthy socialites and attract rich men. Unfortunately, the inheritance isn't as large as the women hoped, so only June can afford the pretense. The other two have to play her employees. Liz (Blaine) pretends to be June's social secretary while Myra (Vera-Ellen) plays a maid.

I don't have a lot of patience for gold-digging as a plot, but the sisters are sweet and charming, as are their prospective beaux. George Montgomery and Frank Latimore play a couple of bachelors who compete over June, which is another plot I never care for, because it makes it seem like the woman has no choice in the matter and is simply a prize to be won. But Three Little Girls adds more layer to that story than most films do by revealing that June does have a preference between her suitors. She just can't make her preference known because she's not sure how serious either man is. If she picks one and he turns out to be just talk, then she risks losing the other. This is explicit in the movie, so rather than being annoyed at June for encouraging the competition, I'm empathetic with her dilemma (even though I'm not crazy about the gold-digging scheme to begin with).

Things are complicated when Liz starts to fall for one of the guys, but Myra refreshingly becomes attracted to a bellhop. So even in this super mercenary plot there's a strong reminder that love and money are two different things (a point the film makes in other ways, too).

Outside the romantic politics, the songs are mostly really good (with a dull exception or two) and I was excited to learn that Frank Sinatra's "You Make Me Feel So Young" originated here. Most importantly, Vera-Ellen gets a solo dance number. It's a creepy one during "You Make Me Feel So Young" where she's dressed in a little girl outfit (think Shirley Temple with her miniskirt, frilled panties, and giant bonnet), so there's that, but it's still Vera-Ellen dancing up a storm, so there's that.

Rating: Three out of five finagling farm girls.

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