While Three Loves Has Nancy is a fun comedy with deeper character development underneath, Tom, Dick, and Harry leans more toward the light romantic comedy side of things. While it does present some interesting and unique characters, they don’t quite have the issues and depth that the earlier film possessed. Still, Tom, Dick, and Harry is a unique romantic comedy that takes chances with its storytelling techniques.
Ginger Rogers is Janie, a sweet, but simple girl (her parents complain that she becomes more and more adolescent every day) who dreams of love and marriage. She’s dating the stable and ambitious Tom (George Murphy), who’s just received a promotion and is seeking another one. He asks her to marry him, and she seriously considers it, until she meets Harry (Burgess Meredith). She mistakes him for a wealthy man, but continues seeing him even when she discovers he’s not, because there’s just something about the loveable, but short tempered deadbeat, that she likes. Then she meets the wealthy and powerful Dick (Alan Marshal) and thinks that all her dreams of love and money can come true. All three vie for her affections, while she tries to decide which one to choose.
What Tom, Dick, and Harry lacks in depth, it makes up for in creative storytelling. Janie’s subconscious rebels against the thought of marrying each man through surreal, and sometime creepy dreams. Each suitor is given a fair amount of time to build a convincing romance with Janie, which actually makes the ending unpredictable. All of the men have something appealing about them. They all seem like suitable matches for Janie, and she does have genuine feelings for them all. So, even in the last scene, as she’s deciding once and for all, we really don’t know who she’ll choose. And the characters of the men are so well done that they’re very different, so there is the sense that no matter who she chooses, she’s giving up something else good.
While one of the men wasn’t present for most of Three Loves Has Nancy, all three men are very present in Tom, Dick, and Harry, making the love-rectangle much more present and much more complicated. Once all three men discover each other, there’s a huge amount of competition, from simple competitive wooing, to physical fighting. There’s one scene where all three men begin to undress to jump into bed with Janie (certainly a racy scene for the time).
Ginger Rogers was best at playing street wise, sassy gals, but Janie doesn’t quite have the intellect of Rogers’ other characters. This is probably the most “real” of all the characters she played. While Rogers played a lot of normal, middle to lower class characters, she always held and intelligence and strength that was exceptional. Janie doesn’t really have that. She’s a sweet girl who is more wrapped up in love and hearts and flowers than anything else. It’s not one of Rogers’ most stellar performances, but it is a very good one. She gives Janie a lot of heart, which I don’t think would have been there with any other actress in the role. It could have been easy for Janie to be extremely irritating, but Rogers approaches the role with subtlety.
Tom, Dick, and Harry isn’t particularly deep, but for a romantic comedy of the early 1940s, it’s extremely well crafted and creative.