3 on a Match 1932 DVD - Virginia Davis / Joan Blondell
Three women who went to the same New York City elementary school, Mary, Ruth, and Vivian, meet again as young adults after some time apart. They each light a cigarette from the same match and discuss the superstition that such an act is unlucky and that Vivian, the last to light her cigarette, will be the first to die.
Mary is a show girl who has established stability in her life after spending some time in a reform school, while Ruth works as a stenographer. Vivian is the best off of the three, married to successful lawyer, Robert Kirkwood, with a young son, Robert Jr., but she has grown dissatisfied with her life and so decides to take a trip to Europe with her little boy.
Just before Vivian and Junior's ship is about to set sail, Mary boards the ocean liner with two men to attend a bon voyage party for some friends. Gambler Michael Loftus, one of the two men, flirts with Vivian. She's smitten with him and he persuades her to run away with him. Minutes before the ship leaves port, Vivian gathers up her son and the three disembark from the boat.
Vivian and Michael Loftus live a very shabby and rather dissolute life, so that Mary, concerned about Vivian's neglect of her son, tells Robert (nearly mad about the disappearance of the boy) where to find him. Both Mary and Ruth are very fond of Junior and Robert has fallen in love with Mary. He proposes to her and hires Ruth to look after the child. Mary and Robert marry the same day his divorce from Vivian becomes final.
Meanwhile, Vivian has become a hopeless drug addict and has spent all of her money. Additionly, Michael owes $2,000 to gangster Ace, who tells him to pay up or else. Desperate, Michael tries to blackmail Robert by threatening to inform the press about Mary's criminal background. Robert refuses to pay because he is already aware of Mary's checkered past; so instead, the gangsters force Michael into kidnapping Junior so that they can collect a large ransom in order to satisfy Michael's debt. Michael abducts the boy, then he and the gangsters bring him back to Vivian and Michael's apartment where Junior joins his mother in her bedroom.
Vivian begins having withdrawals. One of the gangsters, while out trying to score a fix for her, sees policemen in the neighborhood going door to door searching for the kidnapped boy. The gangsters decide to kill the child before the police arrive, but Michael balks at the plan, especially since he's the one who's been ordered to do the dirty deed. Enraged, the gangsters kill Michael.
In the meantime, Vivian has overheard the plot to kill Junior and is determined to save her son's life at all costs. She tells Junior to hide under the bed, then scrawls a message in lipstick on the front of her nightgown that relays the boy's whereabouts. Just as the gangsters are coming through her bedroom door, she jumps out of the fourth-floor window, killing herself but resulting in the boy's rescue.
Virginia Davis as Mary Keaton as a child
Joan Blondell as Mary Keaton / Mary Bernard
Anne Shirley (credited as Dawn O'Day) as Vivian Revere as a child
Ann Dvorak as Vivian Revere Kirkwood
Betty Carse as Ruth Westcott as a child
Bette Davis as Ruth Westcott
Warren William as Robert Kirkwood
Lyle Talbot as Michael Loftus
Humphrey Bogart as Harve
Allen Jenkins as Dick
Edward Arnold as Ace
Frankie Darro as Bobby
Glenda Farrell as Mrs. Black
Buster Phelps as Robert Jr.
Grant Mitchell as Mr. Gilmore, school principal
Runtime: 63 Minutes