Tom Dick and Harry on TCM

I profile the Ginger Rogers comedy Tom Dick and Harry (no commas in the title, at least as it shows on screen) for its upcoming showing on Turner Classic Movies.

Burgess Meredith, Ginger Rogers and Phil Silvers

Tom Dick and Harry (1941) was one of the many romantic comedies to spotlight Ginger Rogers’ underrated talents as a deft comedienne after she left her screen partnership with Fred Astaire and the successful musicals that made her fame. It was her first film after Kitty Foyle (1940), one of her rare dramatic leads, and both a critical and commercial hit for the studio (it would become RKO’s biggest moneymaker of 1940 and earn five Academy Award nominations) and for Rogers herself, who earned her first and only Oscar® nomination for her performance. Tom Dick and Harry would bring her back to light comedy, specifically romantic fantasy. Rogers once again plays a working class girl, though her delightfully dreamy and somewhat dizzy telephone operator Janie is a far cry from Kitty. Janie has a steady boy, an ambitious salesman named Tom (George Murphy), who is eagerly pursuing the American Dream, but she has her own dreams of being swept off her feet by a millionaire. Even after accepting Tom’s marriage proposal, she leaps into dates with two new suitors: Harry (Burgess Meredith), a down-to-earth mechanic that she mistakes for a millionaire when he drives by in a foreign sports car, and actual millionaire playboy R.J. Hamilton, aka Dick (Alan Marshal), who just happens to be one of Harry’s many acquaintances. Keeping with the dream theme, Janie drifts off to sleep with fantasies of married life with all three men, all of them played as elaborate caricatures on cardboard sets like absurdist comedy sketches.

Read the complete feature here. Tom Dick and Harry plays on Turner Classic Movies on Wednesday, March 31.