Monday, January 28, 2013
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
To go with my "Spotlight On" post for Shirley Temple, which you can read here if you missed it, I thought I would review one of her later films. She isn't typically remembered for her later work and even though she was only 19 at the time this movie was made in 1947, she was, for the most part, considered a "has been" star. However, I find this film to be very entertaining and Shirley's performance shows her natural charm and true acting ability.
Cary Grant plays a happy, debonair, indifferent, and slightly naughty bachelor artist who suddenly finds himself the victim of a fanciful high school girl's (Shirley Temple) crush. Right from the beginning of the film you know that Cary Grant's character, Richard "Dick" Nugent, is full of both trouble and charm. The movie opens with Dick, a gentleman painter, being brought before Judge Margaret Turner, played by Myrna Loy, after a fight broke out over a discussion of him by two women at a restaurant. The Judge sees him as a degenerate but is nevertheless forced to let him go, seeing as he's not the only one to blame in the incident.
Later we see him giving a speech about art at the local high school, where teenager Susan Turner, played by Temple, becomes smitten with him. Susan sees him as her knight in shining armor and able to rescue her from the childishness around her. Susan happens to be the Judge's young sister. Oh boy! This is going to get interesting.
Late at night, Susan sneaks into Dick's apartment wanting to pose as a model for him. When the Judge comes to get her, bringing the Assistant DA, played by Rudy Vallee, along with her, words are said and Dick punches him and lands in jail.
Margaret and Susan's uncle, played by Ray Collins, is the court psychiatrist and he believes Dick to be an innocent bystander in the situation and feels that if they prosecute Dick, it will only make Susan's infatuation with him worse, so he and the Judge devise a plan.
The Judge orders Dick to become Susan's boyfriend until her crush has ended, believing that this will make him less attractive to her, if he refuses, he goes to jail. Having no alternative, Dick agrees with the plan.
He tries everything to break Susan's crush, including trying to get her interested in a boy her own age and acting like a goofy teenager himself, but it seems to always have the opposite effect.
There are some very memorable scenes here. I won't give away the ending but I can say that as with most Cary Grant comedies, this family film is full of lighthearted slapstick silliness with a bit of romance thrown in.
Grant has great chemistry with both women, Shirley's performance practically steals the show, and Myrna is superb as always. It never ceases to amaze me how great acting can turn even the silliest of stories into cinematic greats. Sidney Sheldon won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for this film and even though the movie is outdated and may bother some feminists, I find that the quick dialogue and interesting characters make it a very lively film.