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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Classic Film Review: Bachelor Mother (1939)

Bachelor Mother stars Ginger Rogers as sales clerk Polly Parish. She's finishing a temporary Christmas stint at a department store owned by J.B Merlin (Charles Coburn) and David Merlin (David Niven) and, when out searching for a new job, she finds a baby being abandoned at a foundling home. She picks it up and, when the door opens, she's presumed to be the mother. The home contact her boss and David is outraged at the prospect of this 'mother' giving up her child. He lets her keep her job if she'll take back the baby leaving Polly in a bit of a predicament.

I found this hilarious. Ginger Rogers comic timing never fails and she's outstanding opposite David Niven. She also gets to show off some of her dancing skills in a nice scene that involves David storming a dance hall with the baby to try and get her to take responsibility. There are some excellent moments including the New Year's Eve event where David recruits Polly as his date and tells everyone she's Swedish to save her from talking. The romance aspect is lovely but it's the comedy that wins out.

Charles Coburn's role enlarges as the film goes on and I really enjoyed his interactions with David Niven as father and son argued about the baby that Merlin Snr believes is his grandson. Misunderstandings galore but with a few heartfelt moments dropped in for good measure.

Of course, the attitudes which surround this film are out of date but it indulges in remarkably little condemnation either. The problem seems to be that Polly has abandoned 'her' baby, not that she had one in the first place. Worth a watch not only for the nice sparring between Polly and David but also for the cute interactions between Ginger Rogers and her minute co-star. Lovely scenes and an excellent romantic comedy all round.

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