Now, to finish out our celebration of the 80th anniversary of 1939 is the classic comedy Bachelor Mother, starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven!
Ginger Rogers stars as Polly Parrish, a seasonal worker in the toy department at the John B. Merlin & Son department store, who has just been fired the day before Christmas. While on her lunch break trying to find another job, she comes across a baby being left on the doorstep of a foundling home. Running to pick it up, she is discovered and mistaken for the mother. She denies being the mother, and leaves the baby there. However, they come to see her boss, David Merlin (David Niven), who gives Polly her job back. Later, back in her apartment, the baby is delivered to her. In her frustration at being stuck with the baby, she tries to leave the baby with David to be put back in a home, while she goes to try and make some money in a dance contest with her co-worker, stock clerk Freddie Miller (Frank Albertson). David is waiting for her at her apartment, and threatens to fire her if she doesn’t keep the baby. She decides to keep the baby, and she and David start to develop feelings for each other. However, unknown to them, Freddie, who believes David to be the father (due to some of Polly’s comments that he overheard), has tried to tell David’s father, John Merlin (Charles Coburn), that he is a grandfather. Mr. Merlin decides to try and take the baby away when David refuses to be pushed into marrying Polly, which forces her to find a way out of this problem.
Bachelor Mother was Ginger Rogers’ first solo outing after doing The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle with Fred Astaire, which was planned to be their last movie together (and was until they were reunited one final time for The Barkleys Of Broadway a decade later). David Niven was starting to rise after being in many supporting roles, with this movie giving him his first chance as a romantic comedy lead. The story had already been done before in the movies, and the fifties would see a remake, Bundle Of Joy starring Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. But Bachelor Mother has become the best-known version of the tale, helped by the presence of the leads, along with Charles Coburn as the “grandfather.”
This is a movie I have enjoyed ever since the first time I saw it! So many fun moments! Even though her partnership with Fred Astaire had ended, we still get to see her dancing with co-star Frank Albertson (and, if only because of her, it’s no surprise when they win the dance contest)! And, before I go any further, I should also mention one of her “co-stars” in this movie: Donald Duck! No, it’s not him in animated form, it is instead a group of toy Donald Ducks. Ginger’s character works in the toy department selling these things. It’s definitely fun to see RKO studios connection to Disney at work here (since they were distributing Walt’s films at this time), and see what some of those toys must have been like. Of course, it’s a lot of fun watching David Niven’s character trying to exchange a broken duck at his store incognito (in order to prove to Polly that the store does do exchanges). And there are certainly many more wonderful comedic moments in this movie that make it worth watching, so I definitely have very high recommendations for this movie!
This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.
Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Story Of Vernon And Irene Castle (1939) – Ginger Rogers – Fifth Avenue Girl (1939)
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) – David Niven – Magnificent Doll (1946)
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