Grant, Loy, and Temple charm with... The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

It sounds like an icky premise. A playboy artist is forced by a judge to play along with the teenage crush of the judge's 17-year-old sister; comedy ensues. Thankfully, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a joyful and hilarious film that is handled expertly by the likes of Cary Grant (never more charming), Myrna Loy (gorgeously wry), Shirley Temple (doe-eyed perfection), and the Oscar-winning script of Sidney Sheldon (so much fun). Let's dive in!

It's morning at the Turner household, and maid Bessie (Lillian Randolph) is having a rough time waking the house up. Teenager Susan (Temple) doesn't budge until Bessie threatens to bring in her older sister Margaret (Loy), which is a laugh since Margaret is still cozy in bed herself. Later at the breakfast table, Susan gives us a bit of foreshadowing when she asks Margaret what sentencing she gave in her latest case, the one where an older man ran away with a 16-year-old girl. It turns out that Susan has been placing bets with her
classmates on her sister's cases and she is pretty terrible at guessing what Margaret will decide.  "You know I'd die for you, only sometimes you're very hard to live with," the clever Margaret replies. The gals then go their separate ways, Susan to school and Margaret to work.

Changed into her judge's robe, Margaret talks with her uncle Matt (Ray Collins), a court psychiatrist and constant nuisance. He is always bugging his niece about getting married, believing that the
Turner women need a man in the house (ugh). Luckily she is saved from another lecture by Tommy (Rudy Vallee), the Assistant District Attorney who is also basically her beau. Tommy has brought Margaret a gift, but she quickly figures out that it's a little bit more of a bribe. You see, her first case this morning concerns a Mr. Richard Nugent, an artist who is constantly getting into trouble over public brawls and damages, and the DA's office would like to see Nugent finally pay. Margaret would rather be fair, though, and goes off to hear the case.

In the courtroom, she is presented with four variously injured people and no Mr. Nugent in sight. His attorney promises he will be there any minute now, but you can tell that Margaret has already given him his first strike. His second one comes when she is listening to the testimony and they are interrupted by a man disturbing everyone as he tries to find a seat. Naturally, this is Nugent (Grant). "I hope we haven't inconvenienced you," Margaret remarks as she chides him for her tardiness. She
then has Richard tell his story of last night's rowdiness, allowing him to explain that he is doing a painting series and he wanted a nightclub scene. He was talking with one woman when a former model stopped by to say hello. The women's jealousy soon got them into a fight over Richard; one of the women's dates became upset and only made the fight worse; then a bouncer got involved and became wounded himself. Seeing that everyone is to blame, Judge Turner lets them all go, but she warns Richard that she won't be so kind the next time.

At the high school, Susan and her boyfriend Jerry are on their way to a lecture that the students have to attend. Jerry can tell that Susan is starting to get restless about their relationship and accuses her of always looking for a knight in shining armor. "I'm competing with something medieval!" he exclaims. Susan ignores him, though, and they find their seats with the rest of the student body. It's obvious that no one is looking forward to this boring lecture... until they see that it's the very handsome Richard. It's pretty hilarious that they cheer for him solely
because of how gorgeous he is, but hey, that's the life of Cary Grant for you. It doesn't take long for Susan to become enraptured by him and what do you know? She starts to imagine him in a glimmering suit of armor. Uh-oh.

After his talk, Richard is leaving (and receiving wolf whistles from female students!) when Susan stops him; she simply must interview him for the school paper because she's sure he has
had the most interesting life known to mankind. Richard would rather skidaddle, but Susan is basically a bulldozer and pulls him into the newspaper office. Of course, her first questions are whether he is or has been married (no) and if he has ever been in love (yes). Seeing how excitable she is, Richard decides to mess with her and weaves a ridiculous tale about being orphaned, turning to a life of crime, escaping jail, and finally becoming an artist. Susan eats up every word and she
wants to know if he thinks she would be a good model. Her family wants her to be a lawyer, but with her sister already a judge, she doesn't find it necessary. Realizing he is talking to Margaret's sister, Richard gets away from Susan's clutches as fast as he can. I love this shot of Susan waving goodbye to Richard. She stays in the foreground as he goes further away, back in his armor.

That evening, Margaret comes home to find Susan criticizing the art on their walls. Margaret immediately knows what has brought this on -- this isn't the first time Susan has fallen for a lecturer. Hearing that it was the same man from the courtroom earlier, Margaret is appalled. "Dickie wants me to pose for him," Susan sighs. "Dickie?!" Margaret forbids her sister from seeing Richard again, which doesn't go over well.

That night, before going out with Tommy, Margaret stops by Susan's room to check that she's okay. Susan pretends to accept that she won't see Richard again, but as soon as she hears the front door close, she hurriedly changes into her most sophisticated outfit, complete with a "grown-up" coiff, and goes to Richard's apartment building. (I'm assuming she asked the school for the address or something...?) The bellboy is only two years younger than her, but Susan sticks her nose high in the air and asks which number is Mr. Nugent's apartment. The bellboy informs her that Richard is out, but he can let her into his apartment while she waits (this kid doesn't have good instincts). Susan is enchanted with the place and makes herself comfortable.

Back at home, Margaret is worried sick about where Susan is. Ever the ADA, Tommy is interrogating Bessie, who says that she noticed Susan was gone when she went to get her for dinner. Margaret has called everyone to no avail. She is telling Tommy about their quarrel when it hits her where Susan must be. At Richard's place, he has finally arrived home and remains oblivious to Susan as he puts on his robe, turns on the radio, and settles in with a book. "Hello, Mr. Nugent!" Alarmed, Richard's eye falls on the couch, where Susan had fallen asleep. Suddenly there is pounding at the door as Tommy and Margaret try to bust in. The looks that cross Grant's face are priceless:




We cut to Richard sitting in a jail cell the following morning. He tries to tell his lawyer that he has no idea what happened and last night no one would listen to him. Since we didn't see what occurred after Tommy and Margaret came in, it's up to Richard to fill in the blanks for the audience. Everyone ignored Susan and accused Richard of "bad things" that the Production Code can't outright name. Richard isn't in jail for that, though -- he got fed up by Tommy's accusations and socked him.

Before he leaves, Richard's lawyer cautions his client to remember very carefully what happened. Uncle Matt then visits and introduces himself as the court psychiatrist. "Come back in an hour. I'll be crazy by then," Richard quips. Matt knows Richard is innocent and says he has a plan to help him, but when he says that Susan and Margaret are his nieces, Richard isn't so sure. At this point, he would be glad to never see a Turner again.

In her chambers, Matt tries to calm Margaret down and it's becoming clear that he thinks Richard would be a good match for her. He casually mentions Richard's blue eyes and Margaret unwittingly takes the bait by correcting him: "He has brown eyes." "Oh, does he?" Matt sets about convincing her that it would be dangerous to have Richard incarcerated because it would make him a martyr in Susan's eyes. "She's above that nonsense," Margaret insists. Enter a police officer dragging in Susan. Wearing all black and a heavy veil, she tried to see Richard by claiming she is his mother. To make matters worse, she also attempted the old trick of putting a file in a cake. When she sobs that she loves Richard, Margaret sees that Uncle Matt is right and gives in.

Everyone (except for Susan) gathers in the chambers of the judge assigned to the case. Richard is surprised by how pleasant everyone is to him -- Margaret even apologizes! -- but before he is free to go, he finds out the hitch: Margaret asks him to "be [Susan's] beau, just until she gets over you." Richard is horrified and protests to his lawyer that "There's no law that says I have to go out with children!" He is backed into a corner, though, because Tommy is willing to press charges if he doesn't comply. Beaten down, Richard agrees to "date" Susan.

Their first outing is to the high school basketball game. Remember Susan's boyfriend, Jerry? Well, he is the team's star player, but his focus is pulled by seeing Susan hang all over Richard. She tells Richard about how she dumped Jerry because he was too immature, but Richard hardly hears her because he has the idea to get the teens back together, thus ending this uncomfortable charade.

When Jerry is taken out of the game, Richard calls him over for introductions and an invite to get a soda with Susan and him after the game. At the diner, Richard tries to talk up Jerry, but Susan remains stubbornly fixated. His scheme comes crashing down when Jerry announces that he is going to step aside and he hopes that he can remain friends with Susan. As you can see, Richard isn't thrilled.

When he takes Susan home, Richard fails at talking sense into her, even when he states that he is old enough to be her father. As they near the front door, Tommy comes out and smugly goads Richard with snide jokes. I love it when Richard asks him how his jaw is and then aggressively threatens to punch him again. After Tommy is gone, Margaret greets her sister and Richard at the door as they say goodnight. Once Susan is in her room, Richard says he agrees with Susan when she said that Margaret looks wonderful in her new dress. "Thank you. You said
that graciously. Perhaps a result of practice," Margaret cracks. "You said that ungraciously. Perhaps a result of practice," Richard responds. "I had that coming," Margaret admits. Richard asks to speak with her on the porch and when she concedes, he tells her an anecdote about his mother to demonstrate that you can't judge a book by its cover. He wishes she would stop condemning him just because he differs from her philosophy and her upbringing so much. His compliment was sincere; he wasn't trying to be a jerk. (That would be Tommy.) Margaret accepts this and reminds him that he is coming Saturday to pick up Susan for the community picnic.

That Saturday, he arrives to find Jerry moping in his car. Apparently Susan threw him out because the sisters' cranky Uncle Thaddeus is visiting and Jerry offended him when he came in saying "Mellow greetings, yukey dukey!" Getting an idea, Richard offers to switch his beautiful car for Jerry's jalopy. Then he alters his appearance to look more casual and unkempt, and he enters the house with a joyful "Mellow greetings, yukey dukey!" Margaret and Uncle Thaddeus are aghast, but Susan is tickled pink (and Uncle Matt secretly is, too). This moment has to be one of my favorites from Grant. It's a hilarious scene, and the whole "You remind me of a man" exchange is golden. I had to find a gif to accurately depict how amazing Richard's exit is:

[source]

At the picnic, Richard and Tommy's antagonism reaches its peak when they goad each other into joining the potato sack race. When Richard falls over and Tommy wins, Richard's competitiveness kicks in and they both enter the three-legged race. The supreme confidence Richard feels in the partner he picked just lights up his face... until the partner runs them in a circle and he again falls. Next is the spoon-and-potato race (running with a spoon holding a potato in your mouth), but right when it looks
like Richard will be victorious, he slips on another contestant's dropped potato and does a spectacular pratfall. After more failed races, even Margaret starts cheering for Richard -- you know, for Susan's sake. (Eye roll.) The final competition is a doozy of an obstacle race and Richard is just plain exhausted, but the pompous attitude of Tommy is enough to encourage anyone to try to beat him. Fortunately for Richard, Jerry is in the race too, and he and his buddies ensure that Susan's new boyfriend makes it to the finish line first. Susan may or may not have promised to pay the guys if they were able to help Richard... As Richard accepts his trophy and gives a little speech, Margaret has her own moment of imagining the man in shimmering armor. The plot thickens!

In case you forgot what an expert comedienne she was, Myrna Loy displays her dynamic timing when the Turners return home and Margaret debates calling Richard. Unaware that Uncle Matt is watching her, she picks up the phone to take it into the dining room only to decide that maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea. She starts to put it down but finds that she placed the picnic basket in its spot. When Matt asks her what she is doing, she launches into a speech that is more for herself
than it is for Matt. She explains away the image of Richard in armor and stutters that they shouldn't inconvenience Richard anymore. Obviously they should have a discussion in person, but they can't very well do that in the house with Susan and it would be inappropriate to meet at his apartment, so they need a mutual public place, like a restaurant. By the end of her magnificent speech, Margaret is sure that she is right and asks where the telephone is. (Hint: it's still in her hand.) Meanwhile, at his
apartment, Richard is looking for a spot for his new trophy when he gets a call from Margaret. I adore how he lounges in the chair -- he is so drained from the picnic that he can't even sit properly. After hanging up, Tommy stops by to say that he has decided to drop the charges so they can just forget this whole mess. For fun, Richard messes with him and claims that he has fallen madly in love with Susan. As soon as she turns 18, they'll be married and nothing can stop them. Naturally, Tommy is horrified and storms out of there, but Richard got his laugh of the day.

That evening at the Tick-Tock Club, Richard is fussing with the table and the head waiter when Margaret enters. Beaming, Richard tells the waiter "Alex, that's the best you can get any day!" In a callback to his compliment of her dress, Margaret tells Richard he looks wonderful in his suit and they hit the dance floor. As they sway, Richard talks about how his parents were married within three days of knowing each other even though they had nothing in common. In contrast, Margaret's
parents dated through high school, college, and law school before they married, and they had lots in common. Margaret admits that maybe Richard's parents' way was more romantic. Because we can't have nice things, their date begins to crumble when Susan marches in and accuses them of betraying her. Then Agnes and Joey, the couple who were in the brawl from the beginning of the film, spot Richard and want to let bygones be bygones by buying him a drink. As soon as they join the table, Jerry appears to say goodbye to Susan since
he was just drafted. Ironically, Susan tells him not to be so dramatic since there isn't even a war going on. Then she spills the beans about how Richard won the race, a low blow when you consider how proud he was to win that silly little trophy. To add to the madness, Tommy shows up and steals the chair of an upset customer. Regretting the date, Margaret leaves and soon everyone follows her lead, leaving Richard alone.

At the Turner homestead, Uncles Matt and Thaddeus are playing chess when the girls storm in. In Susan's room, Margaret finds her packing and is again charged with stealing Richard. Uncle Matt comes in and asks to speak with Susan alone. In a moment that I'm sure everyone cheers at, Matt tells the youngest Turner that she has been "cruel and unfair to Mr. Nugent and to Margaret and to Jerry" and he's going to force her "to get sensible about the entire matter." "I am?" Susan archly asks. "You are," Matt firmly replies as she visibly shrinks.

Unfortunately we don't get to see their whole conversation, but it worked miracles because the next thing we know, Susan is in Margaret's room apologizing to her for the whole ordeal. She has decided that maybe Richard is too old for her; she prefers Jerry after all. "If I had a million sisters, I'd want them all to be exactly like you," Margaret says as they embrace. (You sure about that, Margaret?) Susan then goes to bed and Matt comes in. He knows that Margaret loves Richard, but she
would rather go to sleep than talk about it. He does, however, get a thank-you for straightening out Susan. I think we can all agree with that one. At Richard's, in a conversation almost exactly like the one he just had with Margaret, Matt tries to tell Richard that he loves Margaret, but Richard is understandably frustrated and doesn't want to hear about it. He's too busy packing for a trip he has decided to take. Good thing Matt spotted his ticket and knows he's headed to Chicago...

The next day, Matt is driving Margaret to the airport after he's convinced her that she needs a vacation. Inside the airport, Tommy finds Matt and reveals that he has a warrant for Richard's arrest. Matt distracts him and is able to tell a police officer that Tommy is a mental patient he is treating -- he thinks he's the ADA and he often goes around trying to arrest people! When Tommy sees Richard from afar and asks the officer to get him, Matt's devious plan works and Tommy is taken away.

On the tarmac, Margaret and Richard reach the plane at the same time and realize Matt pushed them together. Giving Richard a deadpan look, Margaret goes "You remind me of a man." Richard plays along until Margaret asks him if he gives up. He does, and with that, they happily board the plane arm in arm. 

Something that I love about old movies are the sets. There a quite a few film houses that just make me drool, and the Turner sisters' home is no exception. I didn't get all of the shots I wanted, but that means you'll have to watch the movie to see it all for yourself. (Clever, right?)







I also enjoy the look we get at the basketball game. My dad's mother was a cheerleader around the time of this film, so it's cool to see what it would've been like. Again, you'll have to watch the film to get the whole gist.



Most of the relationships in this film feel completely believable to me. Margaret and Susan adore each other, but like typical sisters, they're prone to a fight or two. Uncle Matt loves to meddle and without the sisters' parents in the picture, he acts as their parental surrogate, albeit a mischievous one. Regarding Margaret and Tommy, I'm not totally sure what she sees in him. He is probably the worst character, simply because he remains consistently glib and acts like he is superior. I'll admit that he has tough competition in Richard. Tommy isn't perfect like Richard, but honestly, no guy is. That being said, I don't get the sense that Margaret chooses Richard because he is so perfect. They have to be compatible and after spending more time with him, she recognizes that they are -- their humor lines up, for one thing, and the spark they share is much, much brighter than whatever one she feels between her and Tommy. Margaret is practical; she isn't going to throw over Tommy for a fling. Just look at how she has to talk herself into calling Richard for a dinner date.

Grant and Temple with director Irving Reis
The dynamic between Richard and Susan, meanwhile, is similar to walking on a tightrope. Cary Grant, in particular, has to be careful with how he plays things. He is helped by the screenplay, but it isn't enough to just stick with what is on the page. I honestly think The Bachelor... gives us one of his best comedic performances. He does it all: pratfalls, double takes, stumbling sentences, taking a drink to the face... He is able to be a romantic leading man, a clown, a put-upon straight man to Shirley Temple's antics, and it's all note-perfect. Seriously, guys, we're never going to see the likes of this man again.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is all about giving the audience a good time, but it also doesn't feel the need to constantly compromise its wit in favor for a cheap laugh. That can be rare when it comes to films with a teenage lead, which often seem to think that it has to connect to teens only and can't offer anything for the adult audience. With Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, you get a sophisticated presence that can also handle the silliness with graceful charm. Simply put, this film is a winner for all audiences.

























With love,
Michaela

__________________

I'm thrilled to have this post be a part of the Cary Grant Blogathon. You definitely must check out the roster, starting with Day 1 here and Day 2 here.

Comments

  1. Wonderful post, you hit the nail on the head as to why the film works: it doesn't rely on cheap jokes. I was always impressed with how the concept never came off creepy or uncomfortable-- when it could have very easily. Proof that Cary Grant and Myrna Loy bring sophistication to any possible scenario.

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    1. So true! It makes you wonder what the film would have been like if they had cast someone other than Cary and/or Myrna. I shudder to think of it!

      Thanks for reading!

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  2. Your breakdown and critique of the film is fun and interesting reading. The script is so very funny, but you are right in that it takes the talents of specific actors to really bring it to life, and in as winning a way as they do here. Excellent!

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    1. Thank you! I feel like I always forget how great the humor is in this film. There were definitely a few jokes I missed in my first viewing, and it's like I'm rediscovering them every time.

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  3. You're so right about the film appealing to an adult audience. I laughed so, so, so hard when Richard spots Susan in his apartment. And that "mellow greetings, yukey dukey!" is perfect too. And that shining armor scene...I'll have to find gifs of that one too. A wonderful post as always, I really need to watch it again.

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    1. Thanks, Simoa! That whole "mellow greetings" scene gets me every time. It feels so fleeting, too! I could watch Cary Grant act silly like that forever.

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  4. I haven't watched this film yet, and I had no idea it was written by Sidney Sheldon! I just adore his genius! And that GIF of Cary and Shirley dancing made me laugh out loud.
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Kisses!
    Le

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    1. Thanks for returning the comment! Sidney Sheldon is pretty great. And he won the Oscar for this one! I could also watch that gif on a loop. So perfect.

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  5. When I first heard of this film, I thought, "Ick", like you had pointed out in your introduction. But I quickly fell in love with it. Such a funny script and superior performances. The casting is spot on! I adore Shirley Temple in this role – she can really hold her own against Cary Grant.

    Thanks for this delightful review. You've made me want to see this again.

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    1. Thank you! I feel bad that I didn't really go into Shirley Temple's performance, but I wanted to focus on Cary the most since this was for his blogathon. That being said, Shirley does a fine job. I think this might have been her best role/film from the non-child star part of her filmography.

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  6. Excuse me while I go watch this again... :)

    Seriously, I forgot how funny this film is!!! And I love their house!! I'm always taking screenshots of movie houses!!

    Cary really is the only one who could "date" Shirley and not make it look creepy. It's funny how horrible some movies sound in a synopsis.

    Thanks so much for contributing this wonderful post for the Blogathon!!!

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    1. Thanks for having me! I forget how thoroughly funny this film is, too -- I wonder why that is...

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