Cast & Crew
H. C. Potter
Musical husband and wife team Julie and Vernon Lowndes excitedly anticipate a vacation after the close of their long-running show. On closing night, airman Martin "Marty" Stewart, Vernon's writing partner and Julie's former husband, who was reported killed in Korea two years earlier, shows up at the theater. Stunned, Julie promptly faints, but is revived by friend and dance partner Gwen Howard, who encourages Julie to tell Vernon of Marty's miraculous return. Vernon is astonished by the news that Marty has spent the past two years marooned on a desert island and is in perfect health, but neither he nor Julie has the nerve to admit their marriage to Marty. Anxious to be alone with Julie, Marty is dismayed when Vernon, Gwen and the show's producer, Mike Hudson, all accompany the couple back to Julie's apartment. After much hesitation and awkwardness, Gwen, who has loved both Marty and Vernon for several years, reveals the truth to Marty, who is furious and knocks Vernon down. Both men are outraged when Julie admits she cannot choose between them, and Gwen admits she too would have difficulty choosing. The following day, Julie visits U.S. Air Force Col. Wharton, who accepts responsibility for Julie's unusual situation because he misinformed her of Marty's death. When Wharton is unable to say for certain which marriage is in fact legal, Julie falls into a delighted reverie, imagining having a dozen husbands. Finding their situation broadcast on the entertainment news, Marty and Vernon quarrel, but their fistfight is interrupted by Julie, who informs them she will remain with them both until she is able to decide who to choose. Meanwhile, Gwen laments with Mike that Julie has always had both men, while she has neither. Angered over Julie's casual treatment of them, Marty and Vernon move into the Waldorf to await her decision. The next day, Marty fools Julie into thinking she has a meeting with Wharton, then spirits her away to the restaurant and club where they met. They recall six years earlier: Marty, Vernon and Gwen rehearse a new show for the club when Julie, an unemployed dance hall singer, arrives seeking work. Marty reluctantly agrees to audition Julie, but she passes out from hunger until Marty revives her with dinner. Julie tries out a worn number, but when she sings a new song suggested by Marty, they fall in love with each other. In the present, Julie agrees that she has always loved Marty and will tell Vernon of her decision. Later, Julie is disappointed that Vernon readily accepts her choice and encourages him to fight for her. Heartened, Vernon declares his love causing Julie to swoon and admit that she still loves him. Both Marty and Vernon sneak into Julie's apartment, each believing himself alone, and gleefully prepares for a romantic evening with her. Julie comes home and discovering them both waiting anxiously, faints. Furious, Marty departs for Reno for a divorce and Vernon moves out for good. Anxious to help, Mike suggests to Vernon that he write a show for Gwen, knowing it will anger both Julie and Marty. Vernon agrees and quickly writes a new musical show, Rise Above It . During rehearsal, Vernon finds himself attracted to Gwen, and Mike uses the opportunity to publicize that the show is in trouble and needs a rewrite. Reading about the show's difficulties in Reno, Marty hastens back to New York, where he offers to help Vernon. Vernon reluctantly agrees, but both men balk when a few days later Julie arrives from California offering to help. They grudgingly give her a part in the show, but after several days of harsh rehearsal with Marty, Julie confides in Gwen that she has realized she loves Marty. Gwen assures Julie that Marty loves her, but Julie wants him to tell her so. Gwen suggests that Julie swallow her pride, so during the dress rehearsal, Julie sings her solo number directly to Marty, which convinces him of her feelings. The two are then reunited as Gwen and Vernon look on happily.
H. C. Potter
Hal K. Dawson
Robert B. Williams
Three For the Show
Based on a 1919 play by W. Somerset Maugham entitled Too Many Husbands and a 1940 comedy film of the same name starring Jean Arthur and Fred MacMurray, Three for the Show stars Grable as a dancer married to her dance partner (Gower Champion). Comedy ensues when Grable's first husband (Jack Lemmon), presumed dead by the Air Force, turns up very much alive; since Grable loves them both, she can't imagine giving up either.
The story caused some problems with the Legion of Decency, a Catholic watchdog group that carried much influence in Hollywood. The Legion was angered by the film's suggestions of bigamy and threatened to label it "C" for "Condemned." As that would have had serious consequences on the box office, Columbia made some edits to tone things down, and the Legion was appeased - barely. Instead of a "C," Three for the Show got a "B," which meant "morally objectionable in part for all." The Legion declared that the finished product "contains a frivolous treatment of marriage and flippant attitudes toward purity, together with suggestive situations, indecent costuming and dancing."
The ruckus forced Columbia to delay the release of the picture by a few months. As a result, Lemmon's next film, Phffft (1954), was released first despite being shot after Three for the Show.
Reviews were generally positive, with The New York Times calling the film "slight but cheerful" and describing Lemmon as "a comic who is not uneasy with a quip." Variety praised him as "a comedian who knows how to punch across a line when handed one" and also had good things to say about the "stunning" sets and the musical score, which includes two Gershwin numbers.
In a sign of the times, Variety ended its review by questioning the longevity of the musical genre: "Question might be asked how long audiences will hold still for these big-scale dance routines. Color and widescreen notwithstanding, the public is being fed a good deal of this on TV. There's no question that the theatre screen makes a shambles of the video spectacles, but even so, unless stories improve, there may come a point of no return. Meanwhile, Three for the Show ought to keep 'em happy."
Musicals were indeed starting to wind down, as was the career of star Betty Grable, once the highest-paid woman in America. She would make just one more film, How to be Very, Very Popular (1955), back at her home studio 20th Century-Fox, before retiring from the screen to concentrate on nightclub and theater work. She was 37 when she made Three for the Show and still in great shape. In one memorable number, she dances in a dream sequence with a harem of twelve husbands to the strains of Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson's "Down Boy."
While the movie is primarily a musical showcase for Grable, Lemmon does have some good moments and even sings, accompanying Grable on "I've Got a Crush on You" and singing a verse himself. Lemmon biographer Will Holtzman (Jack Lemmon) has written: "He sustains the comic moments, improves what little narrative continuity there is, and even elevates the lacquered Gower Champion to new heights of repartee."
Lemmon later recalled working on Three for the Show for biographer Don Widener (Lemmon: A Biography), saying only: "It was fun to do, but not as exciting as the film with Judy. I just wasn't that wild about the movie or the part. Betty Grable was divine and the Champions are, of course, two of the nicest people around. [Choreographer] Jack Cole was a strange and fascinating guy and [H.C.] Potter was a very knowledgeable director, a nice man, but the picture just wasn't exciting to me. Perhaps no picture would have been, because it wasn't that first time. There's not much to say about it; it was a Hollywood musical."
Specialty dancers Marge and Gower Champion were a renowned husband and wife dance team who appeared together in seven films of the 1950s, including Show Boat (1951) and Lovely to Look At (1952), but they left a bigger mark on Broadway. Gower Champion was nominated for fifteen Tonys (for directing or choreography) and won a remarkable eight.
Producer: Jonie Taps
Director: H.C. Potter
Screenplay: Edward Hope, Leonard Stern; W. Somerset Maugham (play "Too Many Husbands")
Cinematography: Arthur E. Arling
Art Direction: Walter Holscher
Music: George Duning
Film Editing: Viola Lawrence
Cast: Betty Grable (Julie Lowndes), Marge Champion (Gwen Howard), Gower Champion (Vernon Lowndes), Jack Lemmon (Martin 'Marty' Stewart), Myron McCormick (Mike Hudson).
by Jeremy Arnold
Three For the Show
Working titles of the film were Three for the Money and The Pleasure Is All Mine. According to a January 1955 Daily Variety news item, release of the film was put on hold because the National Catholic Legion of Decency threatened to give it a "C" (for condemned) rating due to the narrative's suggestion that "Julie Lowndes" readily accepted a bigamous arrangement. A February 1955 Daily Variety item indicates that after Columbia made some minor revisions to the film, it was awarded a "B" rating by the Legion.
A May 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item lists Patricia Denise in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The film marked the return to the screen after a two-year hiatus of singer-dancer and 1940's "pin-up" icon Betty Grable, who made one other film, Twentieth Century-Fox's 1955 production How to Be Very, Very Popular, before retiring permanently from motion pictures. The film marked the final screen appearance of Gower Champion and the last joint appearance of the husband-and-wife dance team Marge and Gower Champion. In 1940, Columbia released a non-musical production of the Somerset Maugham story, entitled Too Many Husbands, starring Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray and Melvyn Douglas, directed by Wesley Ruggles.
Released in United States Spring April 1955
Based on the play "Home and Beauty" by W. Somerset Maugham.
Remake of "Too Many Husbands" (USA/1940) directed by Wesley Ruggles and starring Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray and Melvyn Douglas.
Released in United States Spring April 1955