Growing up I remember watching a few Shirley Temple movies and I knew her as a child star with ringlets, a perky smile, and tap dancing feet. THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER was the first movie I ever saw with a grown up Shirley Temple and was also my first introduction to Myrna Loy, who would become a firm favorite as I grew up and found my way to THE THIN MAN.
Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy) is a female judge who is hearing the case of one, Dick Nugent (Cary Grant). Dick is an artist and a playboy, and also in trouble for starting a fight, along with three of his friends, in a Los Angeles nightclub. After hearing the case against them, Margaret decides to send Dick on his way with a warning. Later that afternoon Dick has a run in with another member of the Turner clan, this time it is with Margaret’s sister Susan Turner (Shirley Temple). Dick is giving a lecture at Susan’s high school and creates quite a stir among the female student body, including Susan. She is determined to get an interview with Dick for the school paper and pursues him after the lecture. In an attempt to satisfy Susan’s dogged pursuit and to get himself out of the high school, Dick invents a rather colorful and lurid past for himself and even agrees, rather off-handedly, to allow Susan to model for him one day.
Later that night Susan proclaims her undying love for Dick Nugent to a horrified Margaret. Naturally Susan resents Margaret’s impugning the character of her knight in shining armor and leaves in a huff. She eventually finds her way into Dick’s apartment and devises to wait for him to return home, which he does several hours later. By this time Susan has fallen asleep on his couch, which Dick realizes just in time for Margaret and her boyfriend Tom (who happens to be the District Attorney) to burst in. As morning dawns Dick is in jail on numerous charges, among which is striking the DA. The cell door opens and in comes Dr. Matt Beemish, court psychiatrist and Margaret’s uncle. After a brief conversation with Dick, Dr. Beemish comes to the conclusion that Dick is telling the truth. He also has a plan that will help to rid Susan of her childish infatuation with the artist, and hopefully return her to the waiting arms of her high school sweetheart, Jerry. Dick will have to date Susan.
What follows is a whirlwind of high school picnics, dances, and football games. As Dick embraces the plan and his inner teenager, Margaret is resistant and finds the whole thing ridiculous. But as time passes the other Turner sister finds herself catching a glinting light off Dick’s armor, that is if her younger sister will give him up.
I decided to post about this movie for two reasons. The first being that I really enjoy it. I mean come on…
If you didn’t laugh or at least smile… This is just a fun movie. It makes me happy and makes me smile every time I watch it. I suppose that this was the sort of movie that was put out for teenagers back in the 1940s and I can’t help but wish we made these sort of films today. There is an innocence to the humor, while still maintaining an adult sensibility and wit. It isn’t a new story, a child trying to grow up too quickly and an adult growing old before their time. But it is one that is done so very well that it still hits its mark today. The second reason I wanted to write about this film was because of my grandmother.
My grandma was a real life bobby-soxer in 1947. She was my mother’s mother and the only grandmother I ever had, my father’s parents having both passed away by the time he was twenty-four. She lived in New Jersey her whole life, near Trenton and Hopewell. She loved to clean (really she did!), to crochet, and to watch JAG. She liked trips to Lancaster in Pennsylvania, she wasn’t a great cook but she always made us spaghetti and meatballs when we visited followed by strawberry shortcakes for dessert. I remember going with her to the market and buying Cool Whip, strawberries, and cakes. I remember her lying next to me in bed when I would sleep over and talking with me or telling me stories when I couldn’t fall asleep. I also remember watching this movie with her. She told me about Shirley Temple and how this was one of the first times she saw her grown up in a movie. I think that I remember she liked this movie as much as I did. I do remember that she didn’t like Rudy Valley, not that he was in this film. It has been many years since my grandmother died. She died long before I met my husband or got married or had my son. She never got to see this blog or watch movies all day on TCM or tell me the stories that go along with them. But when I watch this movie I think of her, every time. She wasn’t perfect but she was my grandma, and once back in 1947 she was a bobby-soxer too.