|Directed by||Garson Kanin|
|Produced by||Buddy G. DeSylva|
|Written by||Felix Jackson (story)
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Cinematography||Robert De Grasse|
|Edited by||Henry Berman
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
Bachelor Mother (1939) is an American comedy film directed by Garson Kanin, and starring Ginger Rogers (in a mostly non-dancing and non-singing role), David Niven, and Charles Coburn. The screenplay was written by Norman Krasna based on an Academy Award nominated story by Felix Jackson (aka Felix Joachimson) written for the 1935 Austrian-Hungarian film Little Mother. With a plot full of mistaken identities, Bachelor Mother is a light-hearted treatment of the otherwise serious issues of child abandonment.
Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) is a salesgirl at the department store John B. Merlin and Son in New York City who has just been told that since the Christmas season is ending she is going to be dismissed. During her lunch break, she sees a stranger leaving a baby on the steps of an orphanage. Fearing the baby is going to roll down the steps, Polly picks it up as the door is opened, and is mistakenly thought to be the mother.
David Merlin (David Niven), the playboy son of the store's owner J.B. Merlin (Charles Coburn), is sympathetic to the "unwed mother" and arranges for her to get her job back. Mrs. Weiss (Ferike Boros), Polly's landlady, offers to take care of the boy when Polly is at work. Unable to convince anyone that she is not the mother, and threatened by David with loss of her job if she doesn't, Polly gives up and starts raising the child.
David's involvement with Polly gradually turns into love, but he keeps the relationship a secret from his father, fearing his reaction. When he finds that New Year's Eve has arrived and he has no date, David turns to Polly. He orders clothes to be sent from the store and takes her to a party. Although David is falling for Polly, he does not relish the idea of a "ready-made family."
J.B. finally finds out about the child; he assumes that David is the father and no one can convince him otherwise, especially when, in a bit of bad timing, Polly and David each produce a different man whom they claim is the father. To his son's surprise, J.B. is delighted (he had been impatiently waiting for David to settle down and provide him with a grandson). In the end, David decides that he is in love with Polly and baby John. He tells his father that he is the father of the child and plans to marry Polly, all the while believing Polly is the child's mother.
- Ginger Rogers as Polly Parrish
- David Niven as David Merlin
- Charles Coburn as J.B. Merlin
- Frank Albertson as Freddie Miller
- E. E. Clive as Butler
- Elbert Coplen Jr. as Johnnie
- Ferike Boros as Mrs. Weiss
- Ernest Truex as Investigator
- Leonard Penn as Jerome Weiss
- Paul Stanton as Hargraves
- Frank M. Thomas as Doctor
The film was a big hit and earned RKO a profit of $827,000.
Adaptations to other media
Bachelor Mother was adapted as a radio play on several occasions, including five broadcasts of The Screen Guild Theater: the first starred Laraine Day, Henry Fonda and Charles Coburn (February 1, 1942); the second starred Ann Sothern and Fred MacMurray (November 23, 1942); the third starred Ginger Rogers, Francis X. Bushman and David Niven (May 6, 1946); the fourth starred Lucille Ball, Joseph Cotten and Charles Coburn (April 28, 1949); the fifth starred Ann Sothern and Robert Stack (April 20, 1952). It was also adapted as an hour-long play on Lux Radio Theater with Ginger Rogers and Fredric March (January 22, 1940) and on Screen Director's Playhouse with Lucille Ball and Robert Cummings (March 8, 1951).
- Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p55
- American Will Play Opposite Anna Neagle: Williams Wins Lead Metro Seeks Musical Air Series Scheduled Build-up for Hayward Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Nov 1938: A10.
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