Thursday, March 20, 2008


Irving Reis’s The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) was an overwhelming critical and financial windfall for RKO and the recipient of an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay to Sidney Sheldon. I'm not exactly sure why. Okay, the film is quaint, cute and cloying, Sheldon's screenplay about an artistic rake who finds himself the unwitting subject of a young girl’s romantic infatuations having its moments and overall a 'nice' diversion for an hour or two. The film is charming, if utterly light-weight. But outside of that, it really doesn’t have very much to recommend it one way or the other – just another run of the mill quaint comedy of errors from a vintage in American cinema where such treasures were decidedly a dime a dozen.

The film stars Cary Grant as middle age playboy and art expert, Richard Nugent. Hauled into the court of Judge Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy) on a charge that he began a skirmish inside a fashionable nightclub - the allegation is eventually dropped by the defendant in the case, leaving Richard to go free.

He returns to his lecture circuit at a local high school, inadvertently falling prey to the puppy love of Margaret’s much younger sister, Susan (a teenage Shirley Temple). Naturally, Susan’s latest infatuation does not sit well with her own teenage boyfriend, Jerry White (Johnny Sands). Nor does it entirely gel with Margaret – whose bias is that Richard is a bad influence on women in general.

Noticing a gradual, if strange friendship blossoming between Margaret and Richard, Margaret’s fiancée Tommy (Rudy Vallee) – a stuffy English professor - becomes determined to keep the two at bay by forcing Richard to make good on convincing Susan that she is too young for him or face going to jail on a charge of corrupting a minor. Initially, Margaret goes along with this – though as time passes she begins to recognize her own feelings toward Richard, thanks to the wily matchmaking of her close confident, Beemish (Ray Collins).

The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer is antiseptic fun.  As basic material, Sheldon’s screenplay isn’t bad, though at times it does seem straining for laughs – particularly during a town picnic where Richard is forced to partake in a battle of male athletic prowess with Tommy; performing a three-legged race and running an obstacle course with predictable results.

Grant wavers between an adopted tone of seriousness that grounds his character early on and an over-the-top insincerity after acquiring the teenage slang from Susan and using it to annoy Margaret’s aged father, Thaddeus (Harry Davenport). Loy does the whole standoffish thing well – perhaps too well to make her eventual romantic meltdown wholly believable. In the final analysis, The Bachelor and the Bobby-soxer is pleasant enough – though hardly exceptional entertainment.

Warner Home Video’s DVD exhibits an overall pleasing visual characteristic. The B&W elements have held up remarkably well with fine details and exceptional tonality throughout. Occasionally, age related artifacts intrude but do not distract. Contrast levels are nicely realized. Blacks are deep and solid.  The audio is mono but adequate for this presentation. Extras are limited to vintage featurettes and theatrical trailer.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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