william steig drawing

May 26, 2010
Kartina Richardson

The Bachelor & the Bobby Soxer

1. I apologize for the interlaced video.
2. I apologize for the lapse in posting. I was lazing about at the beach

Dear readers,

Your day is about to be made. I have a glorious treat for you.

It is something many writers and directors strive for, but few ever attain.

It is the perfect comedic scene, and it is in The Bachelor & the Bobby Soxer from 1947 starring Cary Grant, Shirley Temple, and Myrna Loy.

Of note: Grant also exercised his dramatic muscles as an angel in The Bishop’s Wife the same year. In 1948 he was back to being his funny flustered self in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, also with Myrna Loy. Coincidentally all three of these movies were main players in the Richardson VHS rotation. After Blandings Grant didn’t make another good movie until To Catch A Thief in 1955. My apologies if you like I Was a Male War Bride.

In Bachelor Grant plays Richard Nugent, a fancy bachelor artist who frequently finds himself in trouble with the law. The latest judge deciding his fate is Margaret Turner, an unimpressed cynic played by Myrna Loy. Loy lets Nugent go with only a warning, and off he goes to guest lecture at a high school, the very same high school that Margaret’s teenage sister Susan attends! Susan is a melodramatic bobby soxer played by a teenage Shirley Temple (she lucked out with the perfect combination of cuteness & sex appeal. Everything you would want your teenage Shirley Temple to be).

Naturally Susan romanticizes Nugent and falls in love with him. Hoping to pose for one of his paintings, she pays him an unexpected late night visit. Margaret and her corny Assistant D.A. boyfriend Chamberlain (played pitch perfectly by Rudy Vallee) rush to rescue Susan from Nugent’s manicured predatory hands. Insulted by their intimations, Nugent decks the D.A. and lands in jail. Margaret’s hilarious psychiatrist uncle, Dr. Beemish (Ray Collins), warns that if Nugent is convicted, he will become a martyr in Susan’s eyes. To avoid such an outcome, they convince to Nugent to become Susan’s beau as an alternative to jail. Once she has gotten him out of her system, he is free. Of course, the plan does not work. Margaret falls in love with Nugent herself.

Bachelor was directed by Irving Reis and written by Sidney Sheldon. You may remember and love Sheldon’s writing from the Patty Duke show. If you don’t, I urge you to watch it. I am a sucker for TV shows/movies about rambunctious boy crazy teen girls (Sally Field’s Gidget is also a favorite). I am not well acquainted with Reis’ work, so I will unfairly give 80% of the credit to Sheldon.

The scene in question begins rather calmly. Margaret has retracted her over-protective claws, and accepted a dinner invitation from Nugent. The two meet at a posh restaurant, do some dancing, and exchange little compliments. This looks like the beginning of a lovely friendship, but wait… what’s this? Susan explodes on the scene and accuses Margaret of stealing her man. Susan’s ex-boyfriend follows her and informs us all that he has been drafted. Susan is very sympathetic:

“You don’t have to make such a big deal about it Jerry, the war is over”

Chamberlain is not one to be made a fool of, and he too joins the party intent on preventing Margaret’s seduction (Vallee really is amazing in the movie)

All the while, birthdays and anniversaries are celebrated, drinks are ordered, old friend pop up, and chairs are stolen.

The flow of this scene is miraculous. The dialogue we are meant to hear, and the conversation in the background weave perfectly around one another. Each syllable of each word falling into place at exactly the right time, in exactly the right tone, at exactly the right volume.

Though the scene must have been an enormous pain in the ass to nail, I can only imagine the ball everyone had for the first 85 takes.

Whenever I go out to dinner with my father, he has a favorite “inside” joke.
At the end of the Bachelor scene’s chaos, Grant is left at the table alone. The waiter approaches cautiously and asks “Will there be anything else?”. Grant stonily replies “For instance?”.
My father looks forward to the moment our waiter innocently asks this and he replies as Grant did with boyish glee.

The waiter of course is bewildered, and I am both embarrassed and delighted.

P.P.S. Below is The Patty Duke Show intro

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  1. Hilarious and so true! I often point to this scene for exactly the same reasons, sometimes cueing it up and making people watch. (Now I don’t have to, I’ll just send them here.) It is funny and whip-smart and with the precision timing of an atomic clock… and those performances — if there were ever any 4 or 5 funnier people in the same scene, they were named Marx. No wonder William Powell was in serial love with Ms. Loy.

  2. What a great scene. What a great site. “B&B” never gets the props it deserves. As for Patty Duke, I’m fond of taking those lyrics and singing them to the tune of “Fever” at karaoke. That’s how much I love that show and that theme song.

  3. Hello Kitty

    Bwahaha, what a wonderful sequence. The elements all gel together beautifully for this tasty dish of comedy. Kudos to the editors for maintaining the crisp, clipped pace.

    However it is Cary’s performance that steals my heart. Cary’s physical beauty, voice, sartorial style, and manly grace were his hallmarks. However these traits were also detrimental in that they overshadowed his unique brand of comic genius. Watch how Cary is present in every moment when he isn’t speaking. He utilizes his trademark comic moves: the lowered chin glare, jerking his head back in surprise, the frozen mouth agape expression. His body is brimming with nervous energy and annoyance, but it never loses control amidst the chaos. Even when silent Cary isn’t quiet.

    Cary’s line deliveries are the most naturalistic too. His speech flows in and out, tapers off spontaneously. And at the end of the scene when the drinks are spilled on him Cary stares ahead into space. I half expect him to tilt his face a few inches to the right to break through the fourth wall and stare at us, the audience, just before he delivers the devastating punch line.

    Has anybody else ever made rising from and sitting in a chair so ridiculously funny and yet so natural at the same time? I dare say no.

  4. Thank you so much for uploading what has to be one of the most complex dialog inner actions from the golden age of Hollywood. Shirley Temple is so under rated as an actress; she carries every scene. This is one clip I watch each year as it is such a masterpiece and such good clean fun. Hey Katrina, if you want to have a part in one of my Indie Movies, just drop me a line at my email address. I am making a follow-up to my 2012 musical “Sisters Go Ye.” You can see the Trailer on Youtube by typing “Sisters Go Ye Trailer 2” in the Browser Bar. Just let me know. If you liked Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, you may enjoy Random Harvest with Ronald Coleman. Have a Blessed Easter. Kyle



  1. […] The Bachelor & The Bobby Soxer. Mirror.org is subtitled “Motion Picture Commentary,” and blogger Kartina Richardson posts clips from films that are sweetened with her own commentary track, such as this post about the Cary Grant/Myrna Loy/Shirley Temple comedy. I don’t know who else is posting homemade audio commentaries, but it’s a great idea. It’s something I might try one of these days; until then, check out this sight where she provides opinion and insight into films as diverse as Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Hans Christian Andersen with Danny Kaye. […]

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