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THREE FOR THE SHOW(director: H. C. Potter; screenwriters: from the play “Too Many Husbands” by W. Somerset Maugham/Edward Hope/Leonard Stern; cinematographer: Arthur E. Arling; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: George Duning; cast: Betty Grable (Julie Stewart Lowndes), Marge Champion (Gwen Howard), Gower Champion (Vernon Lowndes), Jack Lemmon (Martin “Marty” Stewart), Myron McCormick (Mike Hudson), Paul Harvey (Col. Wharton); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jonie Taps; Columbia Pictures; 1955)
“It catches the leggy 39-nine-year old Betty Grable near the end of her fifteen year run as a headliner.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

H. C. Potter (“Beloved Enemy”/”Blackmail”/”Congo Maisie”) directs this, at best, adequate but forgettable breezy musical remake of W. Somerset Maugham’s play Too Many Husbands (40). Edward Hope and Leonard Stern turn in the tepid script. Everything seemed dull aside from the few great dance numbers arranged by choreographer Jack Cole for the married dance team of Marge and Gower Champion (a colorful waltz ballet done to the William Tell Overture and the Gershwins’ “Someone to Watch Over Me”) and a few lively musical numbers sung by Betty Grable such as “You Gotta Stay Down Boy,” “How Come You Do Me Like You Do” and George and Ira Gershwin’s “I’ve Got a Crush on You.” It catches the leggy 39-nine-year old Betty Grable near the end of her fifteen year run as a headliner, in her next-to-last film, and switching from Twentieth Century-Fox to Columbia. In her last film, How to be Very, Very Popular, she switches back to her old studio.

It begins with the Broadway musical husband and wife team of Julie and Vernon Lowndes (Betty Grable and Gower Champion) set to go on a much needed holiday to Bermuda on the closing night of their three year running hit show. When Julie gives a farewell speech to the audience, she’s shocked to see Vernon’s writing partner and Julie’s former husband Marty Stewart (Jack Lemmon) appear alive on the stage. He was an airman officer reported killed-in-action two years ago, but it turns out for the last two years he was marooned on a deserted Pacific island and his death was really an Air Force snafu over another Marty Stewart who was killed. The dilemma is intensified because Julie loves both equally and can’t decide which hubby to choose. U.S. Air Force Col. Wharton (Paul Harvey) tells Julie both marriages are valid, but she now must choose one. The solution is that Julie stays with both until she decides which one she loves more (it’s not hard to guess who she will choose). Also involved in this nonsense is Gwen Howard (Marge Champion), the best friend and dance partner of Julie’s. She happens to be interested in both men, and is willing to take one off Julie’s hands. The other main character is Mike Hudson (Myron McCormick), the producer and friend to the group. He’s mostly anxious that Marty and Vernon patch up their differences and begin writing as a team for him again.

The awkward plotline of two husbands originally caused the film to be condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”