Monday, May 31, 2021

Father Is a Bachelor

I had recorded the movie Father Is a Bachelor quite some time back, but never got around to it thinking it wasn't available on DVD. A recent search of the TCM shop said that it does in fact seem to be available courtesy of Columbia's MOD scheme, so I watched it to do a review on here.

William Holden plays Johnny Rutledge, who works in the traveling medicine show of "Professor" Mordecai Ford (Charles Winninger). The Professor is one of those con-artist types who make you wonder why anybody would buy the crap that he's selling. In fact, it seems as though Ford has been through this particular town somewhere in the Ohio River valley circa 1900 before as the townsfolk recognize Ford. Johnny was fortunate enough to be performing a song in blackface so that people don't recognize him; with the Professor getting arrested in put in jail there's no more work for Johnny.

Hanging around the area as a sort of vagabond and waiting for the Professor to be released, Johnny comes across a group of children for whom something seems to be not quite right. These are the Chalottes, named for the months of January through May. Their parents died some time back, but only the two oldest know the truth, telling the three younger ones that their parents are away. Johnny, feeling bad for them, decides to stay with them for a while, telling them that he's their long lost uncle, which of course is baloney.

Now, it should be easy enough to figure out where this movie is going, so it's the gettin there that's the more interesting part of the movie. Johnny needs a job to help support the children. Judge Millett (Lloyd Corrigan) has a farm and is fairly well-off, and his daughter Prudence (Coleen Gray) takes a liking to Johnny, so she gets him a job at Dad's farm. Meanwhile, Plato Cassin (Clinton Sundberg) gets in a fight with Johnny having claimed that Johnny isn't really the kids' uncle at all, which leaves a legal cloud hanging over Johnny.

It also turns out that one of the Chalottes has a great musical talent, to the point that perhaps he would to well to study at a conservatory in Cincinnati. But the only suitable music teachers in town are Plato's spinster sisters. It would be easier to get the kid into conservatory if all of the Chalottes were the legal wards of the Cassins, but to adopt them requires one of the sisters to be married, so Plato tries to blackmail Johnny into marrying one of them. Plato also tries to put a bug in Prudence's ear that Johnny only wants the Millett money.

Eventually, the Professor gets out of jail and moves in with Johnny and the Chalottes, having nowhere else to go, but Johnny, not really wnting to marry either of the spinster sisters and not being able to get married to Prudence, decides to become a vagabond again, leading to the movie's climax.

Father Is a Bachelor is an amiable enough little movie. William Holden apparently didn't like doing such roles, and it's easy enough to see why, although somebody has to make this sort of movie to appeal to the family market. Holden does a satisfactory job, while I found Winninger a bit more annoying than a lot of the other con-artist types. The kids are also adequate, although the situation seems a bit far-fetched. Certainly everybody in town would have known what happened to the parents and banded together to help the kids?

No comments: