Saturday, May 8, 2010

TCM's Mothers' Day schedule

Tomorrow is the second Sunday in May, which as always means Mothers' Day. TCM is showing an entire day of movies about mothers, and some of the movies are ones I've recommended in the past, such as Mildred Pierce at 1:15 PM ET, and To Each His Own at 3:15 PM. The first movie of the day, however, is one I haven't recommended before: Bachelor Mother, at 6:30 AM ET.

Ginger Rogers stars as Polly Parrish, a temporary sales assistant at a department store hired as extra help for the Christmas rush. Management doesn't keep her on after Christmas, so, having been fired, she starts walking the streets of town. As she's passing an orphanage, she meets a mother who's leaving her child there. But, the infant is in danger of falling down the front steps, so Polly props it up -- just as the orphanage's employees are opening the front door. They obviously believe Polly is the mother, and do everything they can to convince her not to give up the child. Eventually, Polly winds up taking the child, and giving the department store as her last known place of work.

The administrators of the orphanage naturally send word back to the department store that one of their employees had tried to deposit a baby there, and the son of the president, David Merlin (played by David Niven) is given the task of dealing with Polly. Naturally, he doesn't believe Polly's story about how she got the child. Worse, thanks to a series of misunderstandings, other people start to believe Merlin is the father of the baby. This includes Merlin's own father (Charles Coburn), who's been tipped off by Polly's fellow worker and would-be suitor Freddie (Frank Albertson), who is angling for a promotion. Dad's wanted a grandson all along, so he encourages David to take a more active role in the baby's upbringing....

You have to expect in a romantic comedy like this that Polly and David are going to wind up together, with the baby as well. What makes a movie like Bachelor Mother worth watching, however, is the way they get there. Ginger Rogers was adept at almost anything, and handles the material easily. Niven is charming, which is just the right note his character needs to hit. Charles Coburn does a fine job as well; he was closer to the beginning of his career in playing ultimately kind-hearted rich old men.

It's very surprising, but Bachelor Mother has yet to receive a DVD release.

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