Showing posts with label David Niven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Niven. Show all posts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bachelor Mother (1939) at TCMFF and My Thoughts


Seeing Bachelor Mother (1939) on the big screen has been a dream of mine for a long time and I'm so grateful to TCM for making that dream happen at their classic film festival. I cherished every moment of this experience and I'm so grateful to have seen my beloved film on the big screen in Hollywood.

Comedian Greg Proops introduced the film at the Chinese Multiplex. He was hilarious and had us all in stitches. TCM posted part of Proops presentation:





For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bachelor Mother (1939) let me summarize the plot for you. Ginger Rogers plays Polly Parrish. She’s a sales clerk in the toy department of Merlin & Son Department store. Christmas is approaching and the store lays off some of their temporary help, including Polly. Despondent, she goes out for a walk and sees an old lady leaving a baby at the door step of a foundling home. Polly picks up the baby and the foundling home staff mistake her for its mother. They track her down and convince the son of Merlin & Son, David Merlin (David Niven), to give her back her job. But to her surprise the much needed job also comes with the foundling baby. David and Polly develop an unlikely romance and hilarity ensues when other characters including John Merlin (Charles Coburn) and Freddie (Frank Albertson) get involved. It’s a sweet film with lots of hilarious and heart-warming moments. 

 I remember the first time I watched Bachelor Mother (1939) was years ago on a VHS tape. I had recorded a block of “Bachelor” themed films on TCM. The line-up included BachelorApartment (1931), The Bachelor Father (1931) and Bachelor Bait (1934) among others. While I enjoyed the other films in that line-up, I remember being particularly enamored with Bachelor Mother. It was the start of a love affair that would only grow over time with multiple repeat viewings. I re-recorded the film on another tape when I temporarily lost my original. Then Warner Archive came out with Bachelor Mother on DVD-MOD and I bought it the instant it went on sale. Ever since then I’ve watched this film many times (I estimate around 30-40 viewings) and would watch it at least twice before New Year’s.

You might not know this about me but when I was growing up my family did not celebrate any holidays. It was partly because my parents are from other countries and didn't understand American traditions and partly because of my mother's personal beliefs. As an adult holidays often confuse me and I don't tend to celebrate them with the exception of New Year's. It's the only holiday I can get my head around and thanks to Bachelor Mother it's become my favorite holiday. I love that it's one big celebration of living through the year and starting fresh with a new year right around the corner. It's basically everyone's birthday. New Year's is a time for us to reflect on the events of the past year and to make plans for the future. Bachelor Mother influenced me greatly in this respect. For Polly, New Year's Eve is a pivotal point in her life. The coming year will bring with it lots of new challenges but also great hope for love, family and overall happiness. 

Carlos and I celebrating 2013 and ringing in the New Year!
I also really love the New Year's Eve scenes in Bachelor Mother. David uses his influence to get Polly all dolled up so they can go out to a fancy dinner in Times Square and ring in the New Year. Their class differences are set aside and they come together to celebrate and have fun. My husband and I dress up every year for New Year's and I always strive to recreate the glamor and the fun of those scenes from the film (sans the fake Swedish. Svell!).

I'm very grateful that I got to share the experience of watching Bachelor Mother on the big screen with my husband Carlos. He knows how much this film means to me and he even waited in the standby line so he could get in to the screening. I'm so glad he did and that we could share this moment together.


Carlos and I at the Bachelor Mother screening (with Trevor photo bombing!)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's and Bachelor Mother (1939)



For Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) in Bachelor Mother (1939), the New Year is off to a bad start before it even began. Around Christmas time she gets a note from her employer John P. Merlin & Son, a New York City department store, that her services will no longer be needed after the holiday is over. Without a job or any family members around to help her, she's in dire straits. While out and about looking for new employment, she stumbles across a baby that has been left at the door stop of a foundling home. The home's staff refuse to believe her when she says the baby is not hers.


"I wasn't leaving it, I was just picking it up!" - Polly 

The foundling home and David Merlin (David Niven) get together and devise a plan. They give Polly back her job and bring her the baby along with a lot of baby supplies back to Polly as a Christmas present. Seems like the New Year is going to be filled with dirty diapers, feedings, no sleep and a lot of nosy visits from David Merlin.



David Merlin and Polly Parrish are total opposites. Merlin is wealthy and reckless, speeding in the middle of the night and getting thrown in jail, showing up to work after noontime and stringing his society girlfriend along. Polly on the other hand is responsible, poor and has a very cynical outlook on life.


"I almost envy you. I do envy you." - David
"Really?!" - Polly


Fast forward to New Year's. David Merlin (David Niven) calls up his society girlfriend Louise King (June Wilkins) after 8 pm on New Year's Eve inviting her out. But it's too little too late and she turns him down.


"Why David. Are you under the impression that we have a date tonight?" - Louise

He offers a date to Polly which seems quite a rotten thing to do seeing as she's basically his back-up so he won't go stag. Polly sees right through this and realizes she can't go even if she wanted to because of the baby and because of their noticeable class difference.


"Well you and your... And me in my... What I've got. We'd make half of a lovely couple." - Polly

As long as Polly can get the landlady to watch the baby, David offers to dress her up in the finest from his department store and to take her out for an amazing night on the town.

The New Year's scenes in Bachelor Mother (1939) are quite grand. They have colored my idea of New Year's celebrations with it's 1930's elegance in black and white. David gets Polly a new dress,  a mink coat with orchids, stockings, handkerchief, purse, gloves and shoes.



Transformation complete.

They go out to a restaurant for dancing, a four course meal and all the tinsel and confetti they can stand. But there is a bit of a problem. How is Polly going to be able to talk with David's upper-class and wealthy friends with whom she has nothing in common? David devises a ruse in which Polly is the daughter Swedish magnate and doesn't speak a word of English. She dances the night away with his buddies, much to David's dismay, and needs not worry about revealing her true status. She's a queen for one glorious evening. And we get rewarded with some fun made up Swedish.


"Svell" - Polly





Polly is having so much fun she misses out on all the food!


"Hey, I'm hungry" - Polly


They leave the party in search of some food but find themselves in Times Square instead. They got lost in the crowd, the great equalizer. For one night everyone is the same, gathering together to celebrate the New Year that they'll all experience together.

They watch the ball drop in Times Square, find each other in the crowd and ring in the New Year with a kiss.


It's a very romantic New Year's celebration. Once it's over, reality meets our two heroes and the complexity of their situation comes to light. But for that one glorious night, they could forget their troubles, their class divide and just enjoy the evening.

I think I will always be longing for a New Year's Eve like the one David and Polly have in Bachelor Mother. This wonderful film is from a year known especially for being a golden year in Hollywood history. I watch it every year and it's become part of my own New Year's celebration. I hope it'll become part of your celebration too.


"'Appy Nuuu Cheah!" - Polly in her fake Swedish accent

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