Cary Grant, Shirley Temple, and Myrna Loy in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947)


(director: Irving G. Reis; screenwriter: Sidney Sheldon; cinematographer: Nick Musuraca; editor: Frederic Knudtson; music: Leigh Harline; cast: Cary Grant (Richard Nugent), Myrna Loy (Judge Margaret Turner), Shirley Temple (Susan Turner), Rudy Vallee (Tommy Chamberlain), Johnny Sands (Jerry), Ray Collins (Matt Beemish), Harry Davenport (Thaddeus), Ransom Sherman (Judge Treadwell), Lillian Randolph (Bessie, maid), Dan Tobin (Chester Walters, lawyer); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Dore Schary; RKO; 1947)

“It’s a film that only could have been made in a more innocent time.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A thoroughly moronic screwball comedy. It’s about suburban 17-year-old Susan Turner (Shirley Temple) dating the 35-year-old playboy artist Richard Nugent (Cary Grant) with the blessings of judge Margaret Turner (Myrna Loy)–Susan’s unmarried guardian older sister. It’s a film that only could have been made in a more innocent time. Irving G. Reis (“The Big Street”/”Crack-Up”) is too stiff of a director to make a comedy and to explode all the possible fireworks that were promised with such a lewd premise. It’s also beyond my movie brain to unravel how Sidney Sheldon’s screenplay won an Oscar.

The errant bachelor Nugent appears before Judge Margaret because of an altercation last night at the Vampire Club, over two showbiz gals. The charges are dismissed and Nugent, a famous American painter, rushes over to the local high school to deliver a guest lecture on modern art. Susan Turner interviews him for the newspaper and develops a crush on him, which upsets her nice jock boyfriend Jerry (Johnny Sands). Through a misunderstanding Susan shows up unexpectedly at Nugent’s pad at night and volunteers to model for him, and just as Nugent is trying to figure out what’s she saying Margaret and Assistant DA Tommy Chamberlain (Rudy Vallee), her sometimes boyfriend, barge in and have him arrested. Susan’s Uncle Matt (Ray Collins), a court psychologist and a born matchmaker, talks Margaret into believing that the best way to stop Susan’s crush on the older man is to order Nugent to date her until her schoolgirl crush is over (which makes about as much sense as having the 42-year-old Loy play the sister to a teenager). The reluctant Nugent accepts this out of court settlement rather than take his chances in court, and the forced comedy is built around the odd-couple dating (Susan trying to act like a grownup and Nugent comically doing teenage mannerisms and lingo). Margaret, after Nugent wins an obstacle race at a picnic, gets a better impression of the artist as a man of substance– whereby she pictures him as her ‘knight in shining armor.’

It’s so breezy that it should blow bubble-gum into any male adult’s fantasy of what it would be like dating a teenaged girl.