Tom, Dick and Harry


1h 26m 1941
Tom, Dick and Harry

Brief Synopsis

A girl accepts three wedding proposals at once and dreams of marriage to each man.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jun 13, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,797ft

Synopsis

Inspired by celluloid fantasies, Janie, a telephone operator in a small midwestern town, decides to marry a rich man. Consequently, when Janie's boyfriend Tom, an ambitious automobile salesman, pleads with her to marry him, Janie half-heartedly consents. That night, Janie dreams of a married life with Tom dictated by auto sales, business promotions and babies. At work the next day, Janie connects a long-distance phone call between Dick Hamilton, the son of the town's wealthiest family, and his New York girl friend, Brenda Whitney, Jr. Janie's exchange with Dick renews her hopes of marrying a millionaire, and while walking home from work that day, she wishes on a star to marry Dick. Consequently, when a man driving an expensive car pulls up alongside the curb, Janie assumes that her wish has been answered and climbs into the car. After taking her home, the driver asks her for a date. When he arrives that night, however, Janie discovers that her date is not Dick but Harry, a romantic garage mechanic. After a night spent bowling and talking, Harry proclaims that he thinks he is in love with Janie and proposes. Upon hearing bells when they kiss, Janie accepts his proposal but warns Harry that she has a date with Tom the following evening. That night, Janie dreams of living in a shack with an amorous but unemployed Harry. The next evening, Harry visits Tom's automobile agency, and Tom, always eager to make a sale, cancels his date with Janie to take Harry, who he thinks is a prospective customer, on a test drive. Harry directs a surprised Tom to Janie's house to pick up his girl friend and then instructs him to drive to Inspiration Point, where Tom orders them out of the car. After Tom drives off, Dick roars up in his car, and Harry asks him to drive them back to town. That night, Janie dreams of being the "toast of the town" as Dick's wife. At work the next morning, Janie disconnects a call between Dick and Brenda, thus inciting a fight between the couple when each thinks the other hung up. Janie then wangles a date with Dick, who invites her to Chicago. After a night of drinking and dancing, a tipsy Janie tricks Dick into proposing. Arriving home at dawn, they find Harry and Tom camped out on Janie's doorstep, and she announces that she is engaged to all three. Proclaiming that she will announce her bridegroom at breakfast, Janie goes to bed and dreams she marries all of them at once. At breakfast, Janie announces to her family and assembled fianc├ęs that she will marry Dick. The couple plan to elope immediately until Harry kisses Janie farewell, and hearing bells again, she drives off with him on his scooter.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Drama
Release Date
Jun 13, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,797ft

Award Nominations

Best Writing, Screenplay

1942

Articles

Tom, Dick and Harry


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.

Director Garson Kanin made his fame as a playwright and screenwriter, often in collaboration with his wife Ruth Gordon, and as a Broadway director (Gordon and Kanin, by the way, wrote the original play and screen adaption of Born Yesterday [1950] and the original screenplay for Adam's Rib [1949]). But before his Oscar®-nominated screenwriting career, he was a successful Hollywood director in the pre-war years and had previously directed Rogers in Bachelor Mother (1939). His presence behind the camera was one of the attractions to the project for Rogers. "We had had a wonderful time working together on our previous picture," she wrote in her autobiography Ginger: My Story. "I knew this would again be a happy experience. I was right."

Song-and-dance man George Murphy, a former Astaire dance partner (they hoofed a double-act in Broadway Melody of 1940), was an amiable but lightweight minor star; he brings an all-American ambition and gee-whiz pep to the part of a real go-getter with no romantic impulses. Alan Marshal, a handsome Australian whose career was largely in secondary roles and light romantic leads, cuts a convincing figure as a charming man about town who was genuinely sincere under the glamour and glitz. Both actors are outshone by Burgess Meredith, who made his name on Broadway and in Hollywood as the star of the John Steinbeck drama, Of Mice and Men (Director Lewis Milestone filmed it in 1939). Harry is an easy-going nonconformist with a romantic streak, a snappy wit and a kiss that inspires music and Meredith plays him with an impish smile and a playful sense of fun. Janie is constantly distracted when she's out with aspiring Horatio Alger Tom and lost in her fantasies of a Cinderella marriage when out on the town with Dick. But when she's with Harry, she's attracted to his down-to-Earth ideas of success, modest ambition and living life to its potential, even if she doesn't subscribe to his philosophy herself. "I don't believe in this every man for himself," he explains to Janie. "I get lonely." Their chemistry was apparently just as strong off screen, according to Rogers. As she writes in her autobiography, Meredith "wooed" his co-star with ever-more elaborate gag gifts, from fake candy and phony flowers to fake jewelry and even a car, all of which Rogers proudly showed off to the cast and crew, who became as caught up in the joke as she was.

Rogers' own performance verges on the overly cute, with her baby-doll voice and dreamy gazes. Still, she manages to make it all quite adorable and convincingly makes herself not merely the object of affection for three men but so desirable that she gets-and accepts-three proposals of marriage in under a week. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote in his review: "Ginger Rogers plays the girl, as no other actress we know could, with a perfect combination of skepticism and daffiness." Paul Jarrico's original script (which earned the film its sole Academy Award® nomination) softens her often brash and snappy persona and gives her plenty of opportunities for both pin-up glamour and screwball comedy, especially in the cartoonish dream sequences. Phil Silvers, in his third screen appearance, adds to the humor outside the dream sequences as an insistent ice cream salesman who interrupts the lovebirds at their make-out spot to hawk his concessions.

The 1940 Academy Awards took place during the shooting of Tom Dick and Harry. Ginger Rogers received her first and only Best Actress nomination as the working class girl Kitty Foyle, and was an underdog against such powerhouse dramatic stars as Bette Davis (The Letter), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca) and Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story). Her surprise win was the film's sole award from five nominations and it boosted her profile at a key moment in her career: Tom Dick and Harry was her last film on a seven-year contract with RKO. Her next contract as a freelance actress gave her far more control to accept or pass on the scripts that RKO offered and the opportunity to accept offers from other studios, an opportunity she made the most of for the next couple of years. Ginger Rogers was her own woman at last.

Producer: Robert Sisk
Director: Garson Kanin
Screenplay: Paul Jarrico (story and screenplay)
Cinematography: Merritt Gerstad
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Music: Roy Webb
Film Editing: John Sturges
Cast: Ginger Rogers (Janie), George Murphy (Tom), Alan Marshal (Dick), Burgess Meredith (Harry), Joe Cunningham (Pop), Jane Seymour (Ma), Lenore Lonergan (Barbara aka Butch), Vicki Lester (Paula), Phil Silvers (Phil - Ice Cream Vendor).
BW-87m. Closed Captioning.

by Sean Axmaker
Tom, Dick And Harry

Tom, Dick and Harry

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. Director Garson Kanin made his fame as a playwright and screenwriter, often in collaboration with his wife Ruth Gordon, and as a Broadway director (Gordon and Kanin, by the way, wrote the original play and screen adaption of Born Yesterday [1950] and the original screenplay for Adam's Rib [1949]). But before his Oscar®-nominated screenwriting career, he was a successful Hollywood director in the pre-war years and had previously directed Rogers in Bachelor Mother (1939). His presence behind the camera was one of the attractions to the project for Rogers. "We had had a wonderful time working together on our previous picture," she wrote in her autobiography Ginger: My Story. "I knew this would again be a happy experience. I was right." Song-and-dance man George Murphy, a former Astaire dance partner (they hoofed a double-act in Broadway Melody of 1940), was an amiable but lightweight minor star; he brings an all-American ambition and gee-whiz pep to the part of a real go-getter with no romantic impulses. Alan Marshal, a handsome Australian whose career was largely in secondary roles and light romantic leads, cuts a convincing figure as a charming man about town who was genuinely sincere under the glamour and glitz. Both actors are outshone by Burgess Meredith, who made his name on Broadway and in Hollywood as the star of the John Steinbeck drama, Of Mice and Men (Director Lewis Milestone filmed it in 1939). Harry is an easy-going nonconformist with a romantic streak, a snappy wit and a kiss that inspires music and Meredith plays him with an impish smile and a playful sense of fun. Janie is constantly distracted when she's out with aspiring Horatio Alger Tom and lost in her fantasies of a Cinderella marriage when out on the town with Dick. But when she's with Harry, she's attracted to his down-to-Earth ideas of success, modest ambition and living life to its potential, even if she doesn't subscribe to his philosophy herself. "I don't believe in this every man for himself," he explains to Janie. "I get lonely." Their chemistry was apparently just as strong off screen, according to Rogers. As she writes in her autobiography, Meredith "wooed" his co-star with ever-more elaborate gag gifts, from fake candy and phony flowers to fake jewelry and even a car, all of which Rogers proudly showed off to the cast and crew, who became as caught up in the joke as she was. Rogers' own performance verges on the overly cute, with her baby-doll voice and dreamy gazes. Still, she manages to make it all quite adorable and convincingly makes herself not merely the object of affection for three men but so desirable that she gets-and accepts-three proposals of marriage in under a week. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote in his review: "Ginger Rogers plays the girl, as no other actress we know could, with a perfect combination of skepticism and daffiness." Paul Jarrico's original script (which earned the film its sole Academy Award® nomination) softens her often brash and snappy persona and gives her plenty of opportunities for both pin-up glamour and screwball comedy, especially in the cartoonish dream sequences. Phil Silvers, in his third screen appearance, adds to the humor outside the dream sequences as an insistent ice cream salesman who interrupts the lovebirds at their make-out spot to hawk his concessions. The 1940 Academy Awards took place during the shooting of Tom Dick and Harry. Ginger Rogers received her first and only Best Actress nomination as the working class girl Kitty Foyle, and was an underdog against such powerhouse dramatic stars as Bette Davis (The Letter), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca) and Katharine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story). Her surprise win was the film's sole award from five nominations and it boosted her profile at a key moment in her career: Tom Dick and Harry was her last film on a seven-year contract with RKO. Her next contract as a freelance actress gave her far more control to accept or pass on the scripts that RKO offered and the opportunity to accept offers from other studios, an opportunity she made the most of for the next couple of years. Ginger Rogers was her own woman at last. Producer: Robert Sisk Director: Garson Kanin Screenplay: Paul Jarrico (story and screenplay) Cinematography: Merritt Gerstad Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase Music: Roy Webb Film Editing: John Sturges Cast: Ginger Rogers (Janie), George Murphy (Tom), Alan Marshal (Dick), Burgess Meredith (Harry), Joe Cunningham (Pop), Jane Seymour (Ma), Lenore Lonergan (Barbara aka Butch), Vicki Lester (Paula), Phil Silvers (Phil - Ice Cream Vendor). BW-87m. Closed Captioning. by Sean Axmaker

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In the opening credits, Ginger Rogers' names is presented as Snirgor Greeg, George Murphy is George Yumph, Alan Marshal is Hasalmar Nall, Burgess Meredith is Essrude Mithgreh, Robert Sisk is Sert Borisk and Paul Jarrico is Rila Cojurpa. After appearing on the screen, the letters rearrange themselves to form the correct spelling of the above names. Pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter note that the start of production was postponed twice: first for script problems and second because of Rogers' illness. Actor James Ellison was originally slated to play the role of "Dick," according to a news item in Hollywood Reporter. Other news items in Hollywood Reporter add that Alan Marshal was borrowed from David O. Selznick and George Murphy from M-G-M. According to a news item in New York Times, this was Ginger Rogers final film under her exclusive contract with RKO. It was also her first film since winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1940 film Kitty Foyle (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2314).
       According to the Variety review, this picture also marked the last RKO productions for producer Robert Sisk and director Garson Kanin. Sisk moved to Paramount and Kanin joined the army. Another news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that this production was the first to use stroboscopic high speed flash lamps that could shoot stop-motion still photographs during filming. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Modern sources credit Mel Berns with makeup and John Miehle with still photography and add Theodore Ramsey to the cast. In 1957, RKO remade the story as The Girl Most Likely, a musical comedy directed by Mitchell Leisen and starring Jane Powell and Cliff Robertson. Ginger Rogers and George Murphy reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on September 8, 1941.