Saturday, August 22, 2015
Myrna Watch: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)
What's most certainly a light bit of fluff, and maybe not the most hilarious movie to an audience in 2015 versus the intended post-War audience, there's still a lot to like in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947). Naturally I'm predisposed to a Cary Grant comedy role, and that I think Myrna Loy can do no wrong is a well-documented bias/ problem. But, still.
Loy plays a by-the-book judge who is raising her sister (Shirley Temple), a 17 year old girl in the post-War era at the dawn of the concept of the American Teenager. Temple believes herself mature beyond her years, the boys her own age not worthy of her sophisticated mentality, and swings wildly in her infatuations, landing on visiting speaker to her high school, an artist played by Cary Grant.
And that's really where the movie gets interesting as a time capsule. A lot of the humor stems from the befuddlement of adults at these strange creatures that appeared in the popular psyche in an era where America's economy no longer required young adults to quit school and go work on a farm or go to work or start making babies. Middle class "teenagers" suddenly appeared with their own culture, economy and slang. They drove old, beat up cars and had complicated romantic entanglements and basically that's where we get Archie Comics. It'd be another short few years before the concept of juvenile delinquency was coined to describe the issues created by the teenage population and their swearing at Officer Krupke, smoking cigarettes, getting into rumbles and whatnot.
It's also a movie that would not be made today as it basically revels in the inanity of both teen-age girls and boys, and, now, we must pretend like the hormone-addled thoughts and feelings of young people are somehow legitimate and must be protected. Well, a post-War America thought that idea was plain hilarious.
A bull-headed Temple leads Loy and her D.A. boyfriend (played by Rudy Vallee) to mistakenly believe she's been seduced to Grant's apartment, hi-jinks ensue, and in the aftermath Grant is saddled with actually having to take out Temple. So, our free-wheeling playboy is stuck going out with a teenager who happens to have a sister who is the far-more-appealing Myrna Loy.
Romance. Confusion. Slamming doors. Many birthday cakes are served and the world's worst date is witnessed.
It's really pretty good stuff. And, Jim Henson fans will receive an extra-special treat when you learn the origin of an old Henson movie favorite.
It's also the earliest I ever remember seeing a female judge in a movie, or even a female attorney, and there's no bones made about how Loy should be settling down and making babies. Instead, there's just a "you're going to be boring if you just work" sort of vibe to any commentary about her romantic status. It's a weirdly progressive film for its era.