Three on a Match - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Three on a Match Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2009
Adultery, child abuse, kidnapping, suicide and Joan Blondell. Not necessarily in that order.
Super Reviewer
½ October 27, 2010
This movie has a promising start, but then the story goes all over the place, once it gets back on track, it's not what you expected from the beginning, but then it gets exciting when Bogart's gang kidnaps the lady's son, and the ending was really good. And for some reason the movie is frequently interrupted by newspapers telling us about the changing world of the 20s, it's annoying and unnecessary. Overall a pretty good movie, but it should have been more dramatic and exciting throughout, instead of just at the end.
Super Reviewer
½ April 10, 2008
"three on a match" is a tragic fable of urbanite incurrences upon three females. the major conspicuous performances are from ann dvorak who plays the nymphmaniac sister of paul muni in "scarface"...that was promoted by joan crawford who introduced her the chance to meet howard hughes then she got the role. dvorak is one of the most underrated and undertreated actresses in cinematic history, used to be frequently casted leading lady in the 30s at warner bro.

dvorak plays a weary housewife who takes her luxurious marital ease for granted, yearning for the thrill and gayety of life...then her considerate and generous lawyer husband arranges a extravagent cruise trip alone to alleviate her dreariness, then she goes astray into degenerated adultery with a sweet-tongued crook on the ship....thus her doom begins.

on the other hand, her other two pals, played by joan bondell and bette davis. bondell is the prodigal playgirl who squanders her adolescence in reform school, conformed to the right track by marrying dvorak's deserted husband, demonstrating great scale of maternality to dvorak's son. bette davis appears almost as oblivion, being characterless as a diligent stenographer and a pleasant friend at her early stage of warner bro. after all, it's not a davis movie but dvorak's.

dvorak is usually typecasted as the rebellious do-wronger who descends into depravity, provided with roles to showcase her flapper burlesque which is also in "g-men" and "scarface"....there's a scene she dances frivolously upon the hotel room desk to a lesser standard. dvorak's part involves the gloomy sequence of decaying, accentuated by her traumatized catastrophe that would be the highlight of dvorak's career.

"three on a match" is inevitably melodramatic as the rot in the dark alley during the depression period. it features cameos of bette davis and humprey bogart who would later be smashing hollywood legends. the major star who exerts herself has been forgotten for good.
Super Reviewer
April 6, 2008
Early Bette, she is strictly secondary here but Ann Dvorak is extraordinary in this pre-code melodrama.
Super Reviewer
½ December 3, 2009
Dvorak is a real louse as pampered wife/mother who abandons her spouse and then gets mixed up in a kidnapping scheme. OK but predictable with another supposed-to-be-cute-but-in-fact-terribly-annoying child actor. Joan Blondell is fine in an important role but the real draw is to see some early screen work of Humphery Bogart as a no-nonsense thug and Bette Davis as a bleached-blonde former friend of Dvorak's.
½ August 29, 2011
A cute boy, Bette Davis, and shnazzy thirties jazz are the only redeeming qualities in this film. It lacks plot, heart, and pace. The actors are forgettable, as are their lines.
August 14, 2011
"I'm not so sure about that Bette Davis.."

That was a quote from the director when speaking to the WB front office about the great turns shown by the young cast members of 'Three on a match'. Ann Dvorak received high marks for this great showing as a socialite who tires of her lifelong place in the upper crust of virtue and society only to take the most devestating of falls to the bottom. Joan Blondell also received high marks for her role as Dvorak's childhood friend and social opposite who soon takes her place at home and in high society. Davis, who gave a standard turn for a supporting role, didn't earn Mr. LeRoy's kudos... but everyone makes a mistake now and then.

I'll admit, I didn't expect too much out of this film and was greatly surprised. The story starts out innocently enough (as many a WB early 30's crime drama did) and then opened a wound just to pour salt in it with a lemon juice chaser by the very riveting end. Lyle Talbot and Warren William turn in very good supporting turns along with a very early gangster cameo for Humphrey Bogart.

Well paced and to the gritty point, this one is a keeper. Popcorn and absolutely no bathroom breaks.
January 23, 2009
The pre-Code status should be the tip-off and this short (a little over an hour) feature doesn't disappoint. Bogart and Lyle Talbot are especially good as severely bad influences, but Ann Dvorak dominates as the traviata. Joan Blondell tones down her tartiness, and while you'd think that the camera's ogling of Bette Davis in a swimsuit would be a draw, she's playing a virtuous girl so she just seems mildly uncomfortable. Drugs, liquor, adultery, crime, child neglect, beach fashions, nonstop parties, and a bad end -- it's kind of startling to see what studios got away with prior to 1934. I presume John Waters adores this picture.
December 25, 2008
Not a bad yarn. The first half of the movie is pretty unfocused, but once the movie begins to focus on Ann Dvorak's character, everything starts to come together. What I liked most was the daring finale, when Ann Dvorak is forced to find a desperate way to save her young son's life.
½ March 3, 2008
Very fascinating pre-code movie about three former schoolmates who meet up as adults and a look into how their lives turned out. This film explored a lot of heavy topics for the time, including infidelity, drug use, child abuse, violence and suicide. Great script and acting, really makes you think about the consequences of your actions. Cast includes a very young Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart before they were stars.
February 29, 2008
Fantastic example of the pre-code era. Short, but you get a lot out of that little time. Very raw, good story, and some excellent performances. Nice to see some early appearances of Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, two of my favorite movie stars.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2008
I don't think this really can classify as a Bette Davis film. The only significance her character gives to the plot is to be the thrid person on the match whoch brings about the doom of Vivian. Humphrey Bogart plays a small role.
September 29, 2007
While it's essential pre-code viewing because of how frankly it explores its themes. It's not a great movie, but Ann Dvorak is amazing.
October 19, 2009
Good "Pre-Code" film.
July 13, 2007
If you are watching as a Bette Davis fan, you will be somewhat disappointed as she is rarely seen. The film is an entertaining and a somewhat toned down Joan Blondell is wonderful to watch. Three elementary school friends, all very different meet again years later and become tangled in one anothers lives.
February 9, 2015
It's truly a brilliant movie. The story is really about two women - but the contrivance works in that you need two people to gossip about a third, an effective device for exposition. Ann Dvorak is stunning as the socialite wife who descends to dereliction and Lyle Talbot, as her abettor, is super. It's a terrific story that makes a terrific film.
½ November 17, 2014
THREE ON A MATCH (First National Pictures, 1932), directed by Mervyn LeRoy, is a realistic account into the lives of three former classmates who meet again as adults, and how one of the three goes through her path of self destruction... Pre-Code Soap Opera With Style--When you play with matches you get burned... The epitome of pre-code degradation and despair!!
August 28, 2012
gr8 cast brings this pre-coder to life
June 11, 2013
something interesting, yet really old school.. I saw it merely for Bette Davis' sake.. I love that Lady.
½ April 21, 2013
Pre-code movies are awesome.
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