The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, 1947, RKO Radio Pictures. Starring Myrna Loy, Cary Grant, Shirley Temple. Directed by Irving Reis. B&W, 95 minutes
A delightful movie with an all-star cast, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer charms from beginning to end. It’s the story of a precocious teenager who easily gets lost in her dreams of romance; her older sister & guardian, who happens to be a judge; and an artist with (excuse the pun) a sketchy reputation with women.
Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy) has her hands full at home with her teenage sister, Susan (Shirley Temple), who pictures herself to be a bit more sophisticated than she really is. Margaret’s work in the courtroom produces a daily barrage of challenges, including, one morning, artist Richard Nugent (Cary Grant). With some trepidation, the judge releases Nugent after determining he was not the sole factor in a fight between two women in a nightclub.
Nugent is scheduled to lecture on American art at the local high school, and it’s there Susan falls in love at first sight. That evening she sneaks into the artist’s apartment while he’s out to dinner. Just as he discovers her, Margaret and her asst. district attorney boyfriend (Rudy Vallee) appear, leaving Nugent at a loss as to how to explain his dilemma.
The ADA agrees he’ll drop charges if Nugent dates Susan until she loses her schoolgirl interest in the older man. The antics ensue, and they don’t stop until the final credits roll.
The Academy-award winning screenplay, by prolific writer Sidney Sheldon, is frequently noted for its sharp one-liners and overall deft use of dialogue. Those words would mean nothing if not delivered by this exceptional cast. Grant, of course, never failed in his comedic roles, nor did Loy. That’s a given.
The surprise for some may be Temple, who turned out to be just as delightful a performer as a young adult as she was when a child. (However, audiences at the time didn’t see it that way, and she began a new chapter in her life shortly after this film was released.)
The supporting roles were held by equally accomplished actors, including Rudy Vallee, Ray Collins and Johnny Sands. With this high-power talent bringing out the best of the fine script, what could have been a frothy throw-away film instead became a classic treasure.