Monday, January 07, 2008

Must-See Movie: Bachelor Mother

Bachelor Mother (1939)
Ginger Rogers is perfect and David Niven is winning in this screwball comedy of mistakes and assumptions. Rogers, mostly known for her dancing, does little footwork but keeps you on your toes with her fantastic comedic timing and stunning beauty.

Polly Parish (Rogers) is a department store salesclerk about to be laid off after the Christmas holiday when she passes an orphanage just as a woman is leaving a baby on the doorstep. Concerned the baby will fall off the stoop, she picks the baby up as the door opens, and so the orphanage assumes that Rogers is the mother. No one believes that she isn't the baby's mother, especially when the baby stops crying every time Polly holds him. David Niven plays David Merlin, the playboy son of the store owner, J.B. Merlin (Charles Coburn), who is outraged at Polly's denials and so makes it his personal responsibility to keep the single woman and "her" baby together. And when J.B. Merlin gets involved, chaos ensues, as the older man thinks that the baby is his grandson.

A story like this would never fly today. First of all, orphanages, police stations, and hospitals now have a "no questions asked" policy when children are abandoned. And now with DNA testing, all Polly Parish would have to do is say, "You don't believe me? Here, take a blood sample."

But putting that all aside and remembering that this is set in 1939, the movie is charming and has some real funny moments. I especially love how Polly develops a real love for the little guy; so much so that she begins to agree that he is, indeed, hers. And, I have to agree, the little tyke is adorable...and Ginger Rogers is charming as she improvises from the baby's natural responses.

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