Teen Idol – Rediscovering ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ (US 1947 – 95 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - December 10, 2015
Teen Idol – Rediscovering ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ (US 1947 – 95 mins)

Still funny after all these years, the suburban screwball comedy ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ may have a questionable plot, and one that would certainly be frowned upon today. But with the talent involved and being from the golden age, I’ve always seen it as an innocently entertaining farce, expertly played out.

After visiting her high school to give a lecture, 35 year-old artist Richard Nugent (Cary Grant) becomes the object of desire for 17 year-old student Susan Turner (Shirley Temple). After Susan is caught sneaking into Richard’s apartment one night in the hope of modelling for him, her wise older sister; judge Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy), persuades Nugent to take Susan out on a few dates, in the hope of curing her of her teenage crush. Nugent sees the only way out of this awkward moment (and to keep himself out of jail) is to go along with Margaret’s wishes.

Later released as ‘Bachelor Knight’, the dream cast really shines, and they work wonderfully off each other. 43 year old Cary Grant was funny and charming as the put-upon playboy, while 19 year old Shirley Temple was also very good as the love-struck teenager. Myrna Loy delights as Temple’s sensible older sister, and the always watchable Harry Davenport was great fun as a judge. Former teen idol Rudy Vallée was on form as an Assistant DA, while Ray Collins also amused as a psychiatrist.

There are many highlights along the way, including the sports day obstacle race between Cary Grant and Rudy Vallée, and the now-famous “man with the power” exchange between Grant and Shirley Temple:

Richard: You remind me of a man.
Susan: What man?
Richard: The man with the power.
Susan: What power?
Richard: The power of hoo-doo.
Susan: Hoo-doo?
Richard: You do!
Susan: Do what?
Richard: You remind me of a man!

More suited to making dramatic pictures, director Irving Reis does a fine job here, and manages to keep up with the often manic action. Reis had earlier made the terrific film-noir ‘Crack-up’ (’46), and would go on to direct the family drama ‘All My Sons’ (’48) with Edward G. Robinson.
Remembered more these days as a hugely successful author, Sidney Sheldon’s witty script won him a Best Original screenplay Oscar, something which was rare for a comedy.

A silly but excellent screwball comedy, ‘The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer’ is a delight from start to finish, and one that gets better with each subsequent viewing. Although, if remade today, I think that it would lose much of its innocent charm and appeal.

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