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  Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, The Act Your Age
Year: 1947
Director: Irving Reis
Stars: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee, Ray Collins, Harry Davenport, Johnny Sands, Don Beddoe, Lillian Randolph, Veda Ann Borg, Dan Tobin, Ransom M. Sherman, William Bakewell, Irving Bacon, Ian Bernard, Carol Hughes, William Hall
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Susan Turner (Shirley Temple) is a seventeen-year-old who has been brought up by her older sister Margaret (Myrna Loy), a judge at the local courtroom. Susan is a little pretentious and given to caprice, which exasperates her sibling, but even she has no idea of what's in store for them both. That morning Margaret is overseeing a case of public disorder which happened at The Vampire nightclub, but one of those involved has not shown up, and she tells his lawyer that if Richard Nugent (Cary Grant) does not appear within the next few minutes he will be in contempt of court. He does eventually attend, and gives every indication of bafflement how he ever gets into these situations...

This was the movie that gave the author of many a doorstep-sized airport novel ideal for holiday reading, Sidney Sheldon, his Oscar, and was unusual that the Academy had seen fit to recognise a comedy when they often overlooked the finer examples of that genre. Perhaps it was down to the Second World War alll too fresh in the memories that they wanted to buoy the more escapist forms of entertainment and forget about all that horror for a while, and it was true enough that with its teenage characters and generation gap played for laughs The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer was looking ahead to the styles of the next decade rather than back to what had gone before.

Except of course there was one aspect here which was very much indebted to a star of yesteryear - by 1947 standards - and she was Shirley Temple. Already pretty much grown up and far from her days as the most famous little girl in the world during the Great Depression, she was finding problems fitting into a more mature role in the Hollywood of the forties, as seemingly everyone wished she had stayed somewhere around six years old and wasn't interested in watching her race towards adulthood. Soon after she had given up acting to raise a family and then politics beckoned, not too unhappy about leaving behind her acting career, though on this evidence she would have made a perfectly fair light comedienne.

It wasn't to be, but there is something undeniably... not odd, exactly, but difficult to get used to at seeing Shirley as a teenager and playing up those clich├ęs for giggles, all airs and graces somewhere beyond her character's actual age which is why we're meant to accept Susan could fall for a much older man in Richard. He, as an artist, comes to talk to her school about his profession and she is immediately smitten; he is mildly amused but as a playboy isn't interested in romance with such a young girl, yet Susan is very insistent, even going to the extent of settling in his apartment when he is out (the bellboy lets her in) so that she may model for him when he gets back. This is where the main conceit arises, as Margaret (who was definitely not Susan's mother, oh no) and her boyfriend, the D.A. Rudy Vallee, catch up with them.

Cue Richard decking the D.A. in the confusion and needing the situation explained to him from a police cell, but Margaret has a solution prompted by her psychiatrist uncle (Ray Collins), one which would raise a few eyebrows if included in a comedy made today. So it is that Richard must take Susan out and romance her, all so that she can get over her crush and be let down gently, which with his ladies' man reputation must have featured a leap of faith that he would not take advantage of the set-up. But he doesn't and part of the reason we trust him is that he is played by the ever-urbane Grant, and also that Sheldon made it clear Richard is always getting into ridiculous scrapes which he has little power over. There's a nice sequence late on in a nightclub where this is demonstrated more than adequately where the humour gets as close to screwball comedy as it's ever likely to, yet while it's a pleasant way to pass the time for star fanciers, or those wondering of the origins of a famous exchange from Labyrinth, this is fairly inconsequential. Music by Leigh Harline.

Aka: Bachelor Knight
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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