Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer directed by Irving Reis (starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee)

This review originally appeared in somewhat different form on Video Vista. Copyright 2002.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1948). Screenplay by Sidney Sheldon.

Cary Grant and Myrna Loy star with a teenaged Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, a light-hearted comedy from the pen of Sidney Sheldon. Painter Richard Nugent (Grant, supposedly portraying a troublemaking womanizer but remaining lovable Cary) comes before Judge Margaret Turner (Loy) due to a nightclub scuffle in which he was a participant.

He later speaks on art at the school of Margaret's younger sister Susan (Temple), where she develops a crush on him (going so far as to envision him in shining armor). Upon her discovery of this disturbing crush, Margaret decides her only recourse is to have "Dickie" (as Susan has taken to calling Nugent) actually court Susan so she will lose her crush.

Grant decides that she is attracted to the "older man" side of him, so he plays at being a teenage type to turn her off. He dresses with his pant cuffs rolled up and pulls off some current slang (this was 1948), barging into the Turner home with a hearty "Mellow greetings, yookie dookie." Then he plays a funny word game:

Dickie: "You remind me of a man."
Susan: "What man?"
Dickie: "The man with the power."
Susan: "What power?"
Dickie: "The power of hoodoo."
Susan: "Hoodoo?"
Dickie: "You do."
Susan: "Do what?"
Dickie: "Remind me of a man..."

...and prepares to leave with a "Ready, boot? Let's scoot." Grant is surprisingly effective at this charade, probably because he looks so unassuming, completely dropping the suave screen personality viewers expect. (The wordplay is so seemingly original and clever, I've been quoting it since I first saw the movie back in the 1990s.)

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer also allows Grant to use his gift at physical humor (as a youth he was trained in acrobatics, dancing, and pantomime) in a series of contests at a local school picnic against family friend Tommy (Rudy Vallee) at Susan's request.

It's all wonderfully fluffy and plays at no pretense of attaining classic status, even though Sheldon's screenplay won an Oscar (and yes, that's the same Sidney Sheldon who wrote all those potboiler novels that were made into TV movies in the 1980s). But Grant, Loy, and Temple are at their comedic best (although Loy is used to greater effect in the Thin Man movies), and the whole thing is a feel-good movie squared, so The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer has become one of my favorites over the years.

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