Even when they were children, it was clear that Ruth (Bette Davis), Mary (Joan Blondell), and Vivian (Ann Dvorak) would grow up to have very different lives. Ruth was very smart in her classes and became a stenographer. Mary was rebellious and later entered show business. Vivian was the popular girl who married wealthy lawyer Robert Kirkwood (Warren William) and yet, unlike the other two girls, she is discontented with her present situation and soon sinks into a hazy existence of drugs and wild parties.
This is a great example of the quick and racy pre-codes that Warners turned out in the early 1930s. The film runs just over an hour in length, and, like many of the studio's pictures from those years, it's sharp, unglamorous, and fairly intense with its realistic portrayals of grim situations!
I think it would have been interesting if the story focused on the three girls equally, but as it is, Ann Dvorak has the principal part. She gives a standout performance, though is ultimately unlikeable. I enjoyed seeing Joan Blondell and Bette Davis; their parts were smaller, but effective. It's fun to see Bette in her early roles when she was incredibly young and thin; her character was even shown in revealing outfits at two different points in the story, once in a slip and the other in a bathing suit -- which was pretty daring for the era and certainly unusual for her! Her considerable acting talent is definitely apparent, but she wouldn't get more satisfying pictures for a few years yet. Humphrey Bogart has a little part as a gangster, already showing great promise, and also looking amazingly young.
♥ ♥ ♥ ½