Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

Shirley Temple and Cary Grant in a scene from The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

Apparently I haven't done a full-length post on The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer before. It's coming up on TCM overnight tonight (or early tomorrow morning) at 2:45 AM, so now is a good time to do that post.

The titular bachelor is Richard Nugent, a playboy artist played by Cary Grant. He's consistently winding up in court prosecuted by assistant district attorney Tommy Chamberlain (Rudy Vallee) for the sorts of crimes that would be TMZ fodder nowadays: nothing for which he should end up with a substantial jail sentence, but annoying for everybody all around. He's brought up before Judge Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy). She's got problems of her own. She's got a much younger sister Susan (Shirley Temple) at home that she's taking care of because the parents are presumably dead. (With a kid sister 22 years younger, you can understand why the parents would be dead by now.) Susan mat Mr. Nugent when he came to her school do give a lecture on art, and she unsurprisingly developed a crush on this man who is so much more worldly and better looking than the gawky, pucescent classmates she sees around her every day. Still, Margaret understands that there's no way thi crush could successfully become a real relationship, especially consideirng that Nugent wouldn't want these young girls pursuing him.

So it gives the good judge an idea: sentence Nugent to be Susan's escort for a while! It'll disabuse Susan of any notions she has about Nugent once she has to spend a lot of time with him, and it will teach him a few things about responsibility. Why any defense lawyer would permit this is beyond me, but perhaps Nugent thought all the other alternatives were worse. Besides, he's got a plan of his own. He escorts Susan, but starts acting as though he enjoys doing this, and tries to do what he can to make the "responsible" adults regret their decision to come up with this "punishment". Now, he does it all in a classy way, of course, and nothing at all illegal, which I'd think would drive the judge and the people around her up a wall. Especially when you consider that Nugent's actions don't seem to be doing anything to make Susan fall out of love with him.

Along the way, one other thing happens that you can probably guess from a movie like this: Judge Margaret finds herself beginning to fall in love with Nugent. It doesn't help that the ADA has had his eye on the judge. Can anybody say conflict of interest? Of coure, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is light comedy, and never meant to be anything with any sort of message, so we can overlook how the film has no grounding in any sort of reality.

The ultimate result is a movie that's frothy, but a hell of a lot of fun. We all knew that Cary Grant was one of the great comic actors, as he'd been doing roles like this for a decade or so. Myrna Loy also does extremely well as the more grounded character, but still adept at comedy nonetheless. The Thin Man, after all, was a full 13 years before The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer. The surprise is Shirley Temple, who shows little of the qualities that made her endearing in all those movies she did at Fox, but here would be terribly inappropriate. Her character isn't an adult, but is not childish by any stretch of the imagination. And Temple does well playing off of Grant in their scenes together.

And then there's the screenplay. It was written by Sidney Sheldon, who won an Oscar for it. My first memory of Sheldon was in the late 1970s or early 80s with the ads for the novel Rage of Angels, which sounded so grown-up and trashy. (I've never read the book.) And then when I watched TV reruns I saw I Dream of Jeannie and noticed that it was created by... Sidney Sheldon. And then many years later I saw this. An interesting career, to say the least.

The TCM Shop lists The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer as being available on one of those four film box sets, focusing on Cary Grant.


The Metzinger Sisters said...

You got a great blog here...so many reviews and posts. Holy smokes! Have you considered joining the Classic Movie Blog Association, we'd love to have you ( says one of the board members ). Also, I must be a dunce but I can't figure out how to follow your blog ( aside from bookmarking it ) Is there a button hiding somewhere?

Ted S. (Just a Cineast) said...

I don't think I've got a button hiding anywhere. I've tried to keep the "Like on Facebook" and similar stuff off the blog because I find so-called social networking to be antisocial in the way that it hogs the browser's memory.

What all does one have to do to join the CMBA? The only real reason I don't have image links to things like that and blogathons is that I like the way the blog looks uncluttered as it is.

I suppose the other reason I tend not to participate in blogathons is that I see a link to one, think that it looks interesting, and then forget all about it until after it's happened! [blushes]