Three Loves Has Nancy (1938)

Malcolm Niles (Robert Montgomery) is a New York writer who should have no problem drawing inspiration from life, thanks to his latest romantic troubles. Excited for a romance with actress Vivian Herford (Claire Dodd), the fire is extinguished when Vivian’s mother (Cora Witherspoon) shows up and immediately starts talking about weddings.

Malcolm has no interest in marriage, and so decides to flee, embarking on a cross-country autograph tour suggested by his publisher Robert Hanson (Franchot Tone).

Some time later, with Robert assuring him the coast is now clear, Mal heads back to New York. On the way, he meets Nancy Briggs (Janet Gaynor), who is headed in the same direction to reunite with her fiance George (Grady Sutton).

When Nancy has trouble tracking George down, she enlists the help of the only other person she knows in the city: Malcolm. Romantic complications ensue for the woman as she searches for her fiance while winning over both Mal and Robert.

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(Iage via Film Affinity)

Three Loves Has Nancy was directed by Richard Thorpe.

A few minutes into Three Loves Has Nancy, Franchot Tone makes a distasteful remark about how three out of five baby girls should be thrown into a river and drowned. As much as I like Tone as an actor, I  immediately disliked his character for this, and was sure I’d end up disliking the film, too.

But, it does a pretty good job of redeeming itself. The somewhat contentious relationship between Tone as Robert and Robert Montgomery as Malcolm is fun to watch. Both men have their flaws, but there’s plenty of humor to be found in their disapproval of one another.

Tone and Montgomery share several of the film’s funniest scenes, including one which involves sleepwalking and one in which they visit a psychoanalyst. Tone also plays drunk quite well, and has a babytalking scene that left me in stitches.

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(Image via Weirdland)

The lady for whom their affections compete, Janet Gaynor as Nancy, is incredibly peppy and cutesy. She would be annoying if Gaynor’s performance didn’t seem so darn sincere. Gaynor brings a bright, lovable, sweet presence to the film, balancing out the more trouble characters of Mal and Robert.

The characters aren’t incredibly dimensional. Nancy is a simple, naive Southern gal, Tone a disgruntled drunk, Montgomery a writer’s-block-stricken author. But the script has its witty moments, and is also pretty well-paced, which generally makes it work (along with the performances).

Three Loves Has Nancy is an enjoyable though not brilliant rom-com, especially worth watching for that Tone/Montgomery banter or for fans of the adorable Janet Gaynor.

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