Cassie Barnes (Jean Harlow) lives in a small town and works at a soda fountain. She’s tired of the small-town lifestyle and decides to move to New York City, where she hopes she’ll have a better future, sharing an apartment with her friend Dot (Marie Prevost).
When Cassie arrives in New York, she finds that it isn’t all that different from her life back home. She still works in a soda shop, and her life is no more romantic or exciting than before.
When her boss tries to cheat her out of her wages after she refuses to get frisky with him, Cassie is helped by Jerry Dexter (Walter Byron), who convinces her boss to give her the money and then offers her a ride home. And so, a friendship-turned-romance begins.
Cassie soon gets in touch with an old friend named Gladys (Mae Clarke) from her hometown who has found some success as a model in a dress shop. Gladys helps Cassie get a job in the same shop. Drama ensues in the personal and professional lives of Cassie and her friends as they attempt to build their lives in the big city.
Three Wise Girls was directed by William Beaudine. The screenplay was written by Agnes Christine Johnson from the book Blonde Baby by Wilson Collison.
The more pre-codes I watch, the more I realize how timeless their “scandalous” stories are. This one follows Harlow as a girl who moves to the big city in search of a better life and instead finds herself struggling. She finds love, but misunderstandings ensue. It’s a story that’s still told on film today. (It’s even been told in one of my favorite early-millennium corn cobs, Coyote Ugly.)
Three Wise Girls has a very strong cast. Marie Prevost, Jean Harlow and Mae Clarke all give very strong performances.
Clarke’s character of Gladys serves as the film’s “cautionary tale” and her subplot is the most serious. Clarke puts a lot of emotion into the role and the turn of events is heartbreaking, making her one of the film’s strongest assets in terms of emotional impact.
Of the three “wise girls,” I particularly enjoyed Prevost as Harlow’s roommate. She adds some nice comic relief to the film. (That scene where she talks about food, and her obsession with the chauffer!)
Three Wise Girls is a bit slowly paced for being so short. Though I like the characters, the performances, and the story that is told, the sluggish pace is too big of a problem for me to totally fall in love with this one. The score: 2.8/5