“Three on a Match” Revisited

Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 346

As some of you may already know, Three on a Match was the film that introduced me to Ann Dvorak back in the mid 1990s and got me started on this crazy journey. Since that first viewing, I have watched the film countless times, though I had never seen it on a big screen with an audience. This past weekend, I screened Three on a Match at Central Library where I work and preceded it with a brief lecture on pre-Code cinema. First off, I was happy to have around 50 people show up, which was pretty good considering it was a rare rainy day in Los Angeles which usually sends residents cowering inside (present company included). We even sold a few books after!

Of all the times I have watched this film in the past 18 or so years, I had never been moved to tears by it. Sure, I had always been blown away by Ann’s performance, but it never actually made me cry. That changed on Saturday and I was surprised to find myself choking back the tears during the movie’s climatic scenes. After the film ended, it dawned on me that this was the first time I had watched it since becoming a mother. I don’t know if that’s why Ann’s final scenes with her young child got to me, or if it were that much more dramatic watching it on a big screen. Either way, the fact remains that Three on a Match is a damn fine movie with one hell of a performance from Ann Dvorak.

The other thing I noticed while watching it is that a lot of scenes were ultimately cut from it. The above photo of Ann and Lyle Talbot which I recently purchased is from a scene in the film that is no where to be found. I have a couple of other Three on a Match stills from cut scenes and have seen a couple others in various places over the years. Talk about lost footage I would love to see!



  1. Mike December 12, 2013

    Tender post; your reaction is understandable for the reasons you list and for other factors maybe not even conscious of.

    There are many Ann fans who would have attended the screening if they lived closer to LA.

  2. Scott December 12, 2013

    Believe me, if I could have been anywhere near the area last weekend, there would have been 51 people in attendance at the event at the Central Library. Well, 52 — Mike and myself.

    Yes, indeed, “Three On A Match” is a hell of a fine film. The scenes at the end culminating in Ann/Vivian’s suicide are genuinely harrowing. And, oh boy, would I love to see those excised scenes.

    But even with Edward Arnold, Joan Blondell, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Warren William in the fold, “Three On A Match” is, without any question, Ann Dvorak’s show. She is just astonishingly good in this. And despite that heavyweight cast, when Ann’s not on screen, I find myself being impatient for her to return.

    It’s kind of interesting and ironic, when looking at those “Honeymoon Scrapbook” photographs from yesterday, to hear Lyle Talbot tell Ann at one point in this, “Don’t turn your back on life. Take it. Take it while you can.”

    Just curious, had Ann even turned 21 yet when she appeared in this?

  3. admin December 12, 2013

    I think “Three on a Match” was filmed around May 1932 and she turned 21 in August. The fact that she was only 20 when this was made, makes her performance than much more astounding.

  4. Robert Sieger February 26, 2021

    “I think “Three on a Match” was filmed around May 1932 and she turned 21 in August. The fact that she was only 20 when this was made, makes her performance than much more astounding.” == ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. SHE WAS A REVELATION. SHOULD HAVE WON THE OSCAR. NOT EVEN NOMINATED.

  5. Christina Rice February 26, 2021

    She walked out on her contract in July, so she was definitely only 20 when this was filmed. It’s a devastating performance that didn’t seem to drum up much notice at the time, but Ann is finally getting her due!

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