Bachelor Mother (1939)
How I Met Our Baby
Sometimes movies just work, the casting, the story, the characters, the setting just come together to make for pure entertainment. "Bachelor Mother" is one of those movies which clicks thanks to all those things from the writing of Norman Krasna to the brilliant comic and romantic chemistry between Ginger Rogers and David Niven. All of which makes me a little puzzled why "Bachelor Mother" is not better known because it is up there with the best of the farces which featured Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. And like those classic farces "Bachelor Mother" is as much fun now as it ever was.
It is Christmas Eve and Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers - The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle) has learned that her temp job selling wind up Donald Duck toys at Merlin's Department Store will finish at the end of the day. In need of work she spends her lunch hour looking for jobs but ends up coming across a baby being left on the doorstep of a home for foundlings and when she is spotted nearby the staff confuse her for the mother. More confusion abounds when the staff of the Foundling home approach David Merlin (David Niven - The Sea Wolves), the son of store owner John Merlin (Charles Coburn - Made for Each Other), and explain that one of their staff has left her baby because she is unemployed leading to him not only giving Polly her job back with a pay rise but making sure the baby is returned to her and ending up taking an even greater interest in both Polly and the child.
Let me get the boring but clever bit out of the way with first and say that Norman Krasna has been very crafty to deliver an amusing comedy featuring an abandoned child during a time when such things would have ruffled feathers with censors. But "Bachelor Mother" is clever because whilst Polly is mistaken for a single mother we never actually know whether the baby is from a single mother or a family unable to feed another mouth during hard times. There is also the cleverness in the portrayal of Polly because whilst she ends up acting as a single mother we quickly learn that she is no loose woman when she rebuffs a fellow workers amorous advances. There is more but behind all the confusion comedy there is some surprising cleverness which adds to the humour when you think about when it was released.
But even if that side doesn't interest you "Bachelor Mother" is still a great movie with scene after scene of wonderful comedy from confusion comedy over Polly being mistaken for the baby's mother to general comedy such as a hysterical scene where Polly pretends to be Swedish whilst out with David and his friends on New Years Eve. "Bachelor Mother" only runs for 82 minutes but every single minute is crammed full of laughs from noisy wind up Donald Duck toys, confusion over how to feed a baby the scientific way to a wonderful scene where David goes undercover to try and exchange a defective Donald Duck toy at his own store. And because there is so much comedy it whips along at a wonderful pace so it never comes close to being dull, delivering the next moment of confusion when it is finished ploughing all the humour out of one it is toying with.
But whilst Krasna should take a lot of praise for the constant stream of comedy so should the pairing of Ginger Rogers and David Niven who have brilliant chemistry. Individually they are both exceptional especially when Ginger Rogers makes googly eyes at the baby or raises her eyebrows whenever some one assumes something but they spark off of each other brilliantly. In fact when it comes to comedy Ginger Rogers and David Niven were better than Ginger and Fred, plus there was chemistry there and the romantic scenes, which are not many are genuinely believable in a sweet and often amusing way. And just for good measure throw in the excellent supporting cast of Charles Coburn, Frank Albertson and Ferike Boros.
What this all boils down to is that "Bachelor Mother" is a great farce which deserves to be much better known. I guess being another movie from 1939 put it up against a lot of great movies and over the years this one has been ignored over those better known ones but I urge you to find and watch "Bachelor Mother".
Tags: Christmas Movies
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