July 11, 2009

Psychotic Review: "Three Wise Girls"

Image Source: cinephiles.org
God bless Turner Classic Movies because without that wonderful cable station, little gems like this one would be lost to the general public and nothing more than a footnote to Jean Harlow's career, or one of a handful of movies she made during the 30s.

Three Wise Girls is a wonderful little 1932 offering from Columbia, before Jean Harlow cemented her status in Hollywood at MGM as the Platinum Bombshell.

Miss Harlow plays Cassie, a good girl who works as a soda jerk in a small town but who aspires to bigger things in order to provide for her mother and to keep up with her friend Gladys (Mae Clarke) who has become a model in New York. Cassie moves to New York, hoping for the same life as 'Gladys, not realizing that Gladys has been a kept woman by the slick Arthur (Jameson Thomas). Cassie becomes a mannequin (slang for the girls who modeled clothing in the upscale department stores during the 30s) and also meets Jerry (Walter Byron), a man she eventually falls in love with but is devastated to learn is married. Cassie's brash roommate Dot (Marie Prevost) encourages Cassie to take what she can, married or not while Cassie holds tight to her morals.

If you have seen Miss Harlow in her later roles you will realize the role of Cassie is a departure for her. She plays the good, virtuous girl who stays true to her beliefs - - quite different from another 1932 role, that of Lil in Red Headed Woman, who uses her sexuality and men to get ahead. Miss Harlow is fresh and perfectly suited for Cassie and she makes what could be a cookie cutter movie as fun and interesting as it is. The chemistry she shares with the catty Marie Prevost is worth watching the movie for and a shame the two never acted together again.

Any fan of early 1930s movies will enjoy this one. The costumes, as well as the incredible Art Deco interiors and sets, is a feast for the eyes. And seeing Miss Harlow happy and aglow before getting wrapped up in the Hollywood system is a real treat.

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