Three on a matchi is one bewildering piece of work.
Leaving aside the documentary evidence, not just of credible period interiors and credible period newspaper clippings but also of a very young Bogart (young enough to be "Harve"!) and an almost as young Davis (can you imagine this woman ever was 24 ?), and also leaving aside the very very visible scars of the silent eraii, Three on a match attempts to retell the contemporaneous Lindbergh kidnapping seen through a remarkably distorted glass.
The story as retold here is that the successful lawyer has a wife who, wanting for nothing, nevertheless "gets bored", so she dumps him. He lets her go, as phlegmatic as the old man in the fable, and forthwith replaces her with a duo of her old classmates, at their insistence. The ex-wife hitches up with some louse, ends up "doing drugz" of a very strange sort not seen in realityiii and then there's mobsters and she kills herself and oh btw, the guy she's with kidnaps the kid at some point.
It's not even that the story's illogical, it's way past that, lost outright in some left fields of sheer surrealism of its own devising. Too incomprehensible to be actually bad, Three on a match remains worth seeing mostly because what the fuck are you going to do, throw 1932 away altogether ?———
- 1932, by Mervyn LeRoy, with Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart. [↩]
- Everything, the blocking, the talking, the whole composition betrays that most everyone involved still thought film in terms of the succession of stills with cardboard inserts here and there. Excusable, too, seeing how The Jazz Singer had only been released five years prior. [↩]
- You know how "computers" figure in 1980s Hollywood fiction ? Well, the blockheads didn't make an exception for computers -- that is how they "understand" everything. It just happened to be computers in the 80s that's all. [↩]