Teenaged Susan Turner, with a severe crush on playboy artist Richard Nugent, sneaks into his apartment to model for him and is found there by her sister Judge Margaret Turner. Threatened with jail, Nugent agrees to date Susan until the crush abates. He counters Susan's comic false sophistication by even more comic put-on teenage mannerisms, with a slapstick climax.
Cary Grant ... Dick
Myrna Loy ... Margaret
Shirley Temple ... Susan
Rudy Vallee ... Tommy
Ray Collins ... Beemish
Harry Davenport ... Thaddeus
Johnny Sands ... Jerry
Don Beddoe ... Joey
Lillian Randolph ... Bessie
Veda Ann Borg ... Agnes Prescott
Dan Tobin ... Walters
Ransom M. Sherman ... Judge Treadwell (as Ransom Sherman)
William Bakewell ... Winters
Irving Bacon ... Melvin
Ian Bernard ... Perry
Like most romantic comedies, the premise of THE BACHELOR & THE BOBBY-SOXER really isn't on the firmest of grounds (though why watch a film if you want full-blown reality?). Myrna Loy plays serious-minded Judge Margaret Turner, who always pays strict attention to the facts in every situation (personal or professional). She has guardianship of her younger sister Susan (Shirley Temple), a hormonal young girl who develops an instant crush on a roguish art lecturer Richard Nugent (Cary Grant) when he gives a lecture at her school. In order to help her get over this crush, Margaret--urged by her uncle Matt (Ray Collins)--gently blackmails Richard into being Susan's beau until the crush wears off. What ensues is a delightful comedy of errors as Richard squires Susan around town, while struggling to deal with an assistant district attorney (the suitably uptight Rudy Vallee) and Susan's own ex-boyfriend Jerry (Johnny Sands) as he falls in love with Margaret (and vice versa).
It really does seem almost impossible for a film to get any cuter or more feel-good than THE BACHELOR & THE BOBBY-SOXER. First of all, much of the comedy is fantastic--from Susan's starry-eyed image of 'Dickie' as a (literal!) knight in shining armour, through to her attempt to pass herself off as both Dick's mother and Margaret's sister when trying to help Dick escape from jail. The dining scene at the club is brilliant fun, especially as more and more people arrive at the table to disrupt Dick and Margaret's privacy. Watch Cary Grant's reactions in this scene--truly a fantastic comedic performance that has, thankfully, been captured on film to the great benefit of future generations. ;) You just can't help laughing throughout the film--at Susan's misguided passion for Dick, Dick's helpless bewilderment when he gets landed in jail for nothing he can remember, the attempts at matchmaking Uncle Matt subtly tries to pull off etc.
Secondly, the cast itself is excellent. There is no better (or more under-rated) comic actor than Cary Grant, and he lends his considerable talent and boundless charm to the character without reservation. It's always the little throwaway touches that count with Grant's performances, tiny things that make him appear so natural on the screen, and his Dick Nugent is remarkably true to life. I especially love it when Dick trades his car in and turns up his trouser cuffs to act 'young' around the Turners. ("You remind me of a man...") Myrna Loy is delightful as well, though woefully under-used. It's not hard to believe her as a fully professional, modern woman (surely female judges must have been very rare at the time?); nor is it difficult to believe that the judge might have a sweeter, human side. (Though who wouldn't be convincing when asked to fall in love with Cary Grant?) It's a shame that there aren't more love scenes between Grant and Loy, as they doubtlessly have great chemistry together. As for Shirley Temple--there is just no denying how cute she is, and how well she plays the role of the flighty, passionate Susan. It's not an easy role to play, given how the character as written is really rather annoying. Temple makes Susan sweeter and more tolerable, and she definitely holds her own in the company of Grant and Loy.
The only problem with the film, given its great cast and very funny script, is that the 'comedic' element triumphs at the expense of the 'romantic'. There aren't half as many scenes between Grant and Loy as I would personally have liked, and although Loy herself is very convincing in her portrayal of Margaret--you really *do* believe that her character has fallen for Grant's--it certainly isn't with the help of the script. The film really belongs to Grant and Temple, both of whom get to show off their comic talents to great effect. While Loy makes an excellent straight (wo)man, it really is a shame that we didn't get to see more of her, or more of her character interacting with Grant's.
All in all, great fun, great laughs, great cast. The great romance... well, that would probably have to come from another film. That said, THE BACHELOR & THE BOBBY-SOXER is still definitely a film that's well worth the watch...
This is a delightful movie has the imprint of Sidney Sheldon all over the place. Not only is Mr. Sheldon a good writer, but it shows he has an ear for what seem to work, be it a book, or in this case, a screenplay. Under the direction of Irving Reis, this comedy is still fun to watch after all these years.
The stars, of course, are the main reasons for watching "The Boxer and the Bobby Soxer". The film's premise is about the infatuation of a impressionable teen ager with a much older man. The object of that affection is a playboy who appears to be unsuitable for the girl. The contrast between the older man and the young girl creates a lot of funny situations.
To make matters worse, the sister of the young girl is a judge, who sees right through the roguish Richard Nugent and wants him to leave the girl alone, but figures that surely her sister will soon get bored with the man.
Myrna Loy does wonders with her role as Margaret Turner. Cary Grant brings his natural elegance to the role of Richard Nugent; just watch him in the picnic competition. Shirley Temple is a sweet Susan, the girl infatuated with Richard. In minor roles, Rudy Vallee and Ray Collins are perfectly cast.
In a couple of scenes in the film we see Richard Nugent in shining armor, as both sisters take turns in imagining him her hero. Only the right one will be rewarded.
I own a VHS copy of this film and have watched it several times and it never ceases to be delightful. Some of the other reviews are no doubt hampered by being the result of a single viewing or not paying attention. For example, at least two identify Shirey Temple's character as a college student rather than a high schooler.
To understand the interpersonal dynamics of the story, let's start with two of the great supporting actors in this film Rudy Vallee and Ray Collins. Collins plays a psychiatrist who does consulting work for the criminal justice system and who wants to see his niece, a police court judge played by Myrna Loy, married. Vallee plays an assistant district attorney (ADA) who is romantically interested in Loy's character but is frustrated by her lack of interest and Collins' overt hostility. Between her career and caring for her teenage sister played by Temple, Loy is content to spar with Vallee but keeps him at arms length.
For those who are having trouble with the "lady judge" in the 1940s angle - there were a few especially as lots of young male lawyers had gone off to the war and left opportunities for women in legal careers as in other fields, Loy plays a minor court judge, and she has relatives in the system (the aforementioned uncle and another who seems to be a retired judge). One also needs to know the times to understand that "bobby-soxer" refers to young girls wearing sox with the tops turned down ("bobbed" which means shortened). Another historical note - at least one reviewer has mentioned that there is a hint of pedophilia in the relationship between the characters played by Temple and Grant (mild by comparison to The Major And The Minor with Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers pretending to be 12). This is a somewhat anachronistic view as the trend has been toward raising the legal age of consent and the age for marriage in the two generations that separate us from the time this film was made. The idea of the high school girl and the playboy artist dating or marrying would have been a bit scandalous in a middle class milieu like this, but it would not necessarily have seemed criminal to most folks.
So now we come to the silly schoolgirl crush which Shirley Temple's character conceives with regard to the urbane, sophisticated, handsome, and slightly rakish artist played by Cary Grant. This is a stock element of many romantic comedies. In fact, there is an interesting parallel between Shirley daydreaming that Cary Grant is a knight in shining armor and the romantic reveries of Reese Witherspoon's character in The Importance of Being Earnest. Our teen heroine in this movie is a bit of what we would now call a "drama queen." We see this not only in her relation to the older artist, but in the way she returns to her high school beau talking about how handsome he will be in uniform (he just got his draft notice).
When our psychiatrist uncle (Collins) comes up with the idea of having the artist (Grant) pay court to the bobby-soxer (Temple) till she tires of him, he is playing a double - even a triple - game. He wants to put what he considers a real man (Grant) in close proximity to the judge (Loy) and he wants to irritate the assistant district attorney (Vallee) whom he expects will suffer by the comparison.
The artist accepts his unusual form of probation reluctantly and soon begins to see another, and more desirable, side of the judge but each time they begin to get close something intrudes to keep them from acknowledging their feelings. Meanwhile, the artist craftily cultivates the friendship of the ex-boyfriend to keep him in our bobby-soxer's company.
The scene at the community picnic where the artist and the ADA compete (sack races and such) for ribbons, and the attention of the judge, is hilarious, especially as our bobby-soxer bribes the high school boys to help her artist to beat the ADA. And the later scene in the nightclub is also a real winner.
The chemistry between Grant and Loy here is not the greatest, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House is much better in that department, but they give a good account of themselves as reluctant lovers. Loy was always fabulous as the straight partner for a physical comic actor which she perfected in over a dozen pairings with William Powell (I Love You Again, Love Crazy, the Thin Man series, etc.). Through most of this film Grant has little scope for his physical comedy (especially as compared to Bringing Up Baby or Monkey Business) which is why the picnic sequence really shines, but his facial expressions and voice make the most of the limited possibilities, especially in the nightclub scene where there is a lot going on in a small space and Cary Grant still shines.
This movie is a bit dated, and I don't think you could make it today with the same charm and innocence. But it is a joy to watch on its own terms and I highly recommend it.