Posts Tagged ‘Shirley Temple’

My Classic Movie Pick: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

With the recent passing of child star Shirley Temple, I decided that my classic movie pick would be one of her films, but one near the end of her acting career, not one from the beginning or the middle.

TBATBS screen opener

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is a romance/comedy, made in 1947 by RKO Studios.  This delightful movie features an excellent cast: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee, Harry Davenport, Ray Collins, and Johnny Sands.  It was directed by Irving Reis, produced by Dore Schary, and the original screenplay was written by Sidney Sheldon.  Sheldon did win the Academy Award for best writing, original screenplay for this movie, in 1948.  

The plot is basically a romantic triangle, but only two sides of the triangle are really interested in one another.  The third side of the triangle can’t see that, and therein lies the comedic elements  of the plot.    Cary Grant is Dick Nugent, an artist and a playboy.  The movie opens with he and 3 girlfriends in a courtroom facing Judge Margaret Turner, who is of course, played with steely-eyed seriousness by Myrna Loy.  She is calm, yet is not in the mood to hear about all of the gory details as to why Mr. Nugent and his 3 friends were arrested for brawling in a Los Angeles nightclub.  She issues them a stern warning and then dismisses the case.

Getting his case dismissed

Getting his case dismissed

As the day moves on, Dick has to appear at a high school and give a speech  for a Career Day type of assembly.  As he gives his speech, one of the teen girls in the audience, Susan Turner(Shirley Temple) suddenly imagines that Dick is a knight in shining armor and she is at that minute struck with “love” for him.   She begins to plan a way to be with him and decides to corner him for an interview in the school newspaper.    When Susan gets home she tells her sister,  Judge Margaret,  who is her legal guardian, that she is in love and it’s  not with some juvenile youth like her current boyfriend, Jerry(Johnny Sands).  Margaret scoffs at Susan’s “love” and tells her to go to bed.  The wily Susan will not be deterred on her quest to find this new love so she  dresses herself to look older and then sneaks out to find Dick’s apartment.  She manages to get into his apartment but he’s not home, so as she waits for him to return, she falls asleep on his couch.    Big sister Margaret, as the evening progresses, realizes that Susan isn’t in her bed sleeping so she and her boyfriend, the assistant District Attorney Tommy Chamberlain (Rudy Vallee) figure out where Susan has gone and burst into Dick’s apartment just as he is finishing up a conversation with Susan.  He arrived home right before Margaret and Tommy ‘s arrival, and is confused by their entry.  Margaret is distraught at finding Susan in a man’s apartment, Tommy accuses Dick of nefarious doings and gets socked in the jaw.  This leads to Dick’s arrest and spending the rest of the night in a Los Angeles jail.   In the morning, Dr. Beemish(Ray Collins), a court psychologist, visits with Dick in jail and gets his side of the story.  He believes that Dick is innocent of trying to seduce a teenage girl and tells Margaret and Tommy that he has a plan that will cure Susan of her “love” for Dick.  Dick must “date” Susan, probably only a couple of dates, but these dates will cause Susan to give up her “love” for an older man.

The Knight in Shining Armor!

The Knight in Shining Armor!

Susan telling Margaret about her new love

Susan telling Margaret about her new love

Susan on Dick's couch

Susan on Dick’s couch

Hearing Dr. Beemish's Plan

Hearing Dr. Beemish’s Plan

The dating scheme, only known by Dick, Margaret, Tommy, and Dr.  Beemish(who is also Margaret and Susan’s Uncle Matt) is hilarious and it only adds to the screwball element of this comedy.  During one of the dates at a neighborhood picnic complete with sack races and other silly sporting events, Judge Margaret suddenly sees Dick in a suit of shining armor as he receives a trophy for winning one of the contests.  Enter the real love story of this romantic triangle!  Now it is up to Dick and Margaret to find  a way to begin their romance without hurting Susan or Tommy, and more laughs ensue.  The climax of the film happens at a fancy restaurant where Dick and Margaret are trying to enjoy their date, only to have Susan and Jerry, the 2 Uncles, Tommy, and the lady brawlers all converging  at the same restaurant!   There is a happy ending, of course, how could there not be?

Cary Grant is his charming self, great at playing comedy with his facial expressions hinting at the confusion his character feels and also adept at the physical comedy, especially apparent at the picnic scenes.   Myrna Loy is great as the cold, serious-minded judge who starts to soften and become human when she is around Grant’s character.   Shirley Temple is also wonderful, as the 18 year old high school girl who thinks boys her age are so immature and that she knows what real love is.  Rudy Vallee, Ray Collins, and Harry Davenport(as Judge Thaddeus Turner-another Uncle of Margaret and Susan’s), and Johnny Sands handle  their supporting roles with skill and aplomb.

For a very funny movie, with that sweet touch of romance  perfect for Valentine’s Day, seek out The Bachelor and The Bobby-Soxer.  Turner Classics will be airing it on Sunday, March 9th at 12:45 EST/11:45 pm CST as part of their 8 film tribute to the movie career of Shirley Temple, who passed away recently on February 10th.  Here is a link to TCM’s site about the  planned tribute to Shirley Temple and the other films that will be shown.

The Bachelor and The Bobby-Soxer is available to buy at TCM, at Amazon(which also has it out for instant rent), and it’s available on Netflix.  I’ll close this post out with some fun posed stills for the movie’s made by RKO’s publicity department.  TBATBS screen pose 1TBATBS screen pose 3TBATBS screen pose 4

From Shirley Temple’s nemesis to Josephine the Plumber: Jane Withers

My blog today is a part of the Children in Film Blogathon hosted by the wonderful Comet Over Hollywood, May 24-26, 2013.  I decided to focus on Jane Withers, who is still alive and thriving and who herself is a fan of classic films.   I was most familiar with Jane from her tv commercials as the bubbly,  helpful plumber, Josephine, extolling the cleaning virtues of Comet Cleanser.  I was not as familiar with Jane’s early beginnings in the entertainment industry and here is what I discovered.Children in film blogathon Jane Withers was born in Atlanta, Georgia on April 12, 1926.  She was an only child, much loved by her parents, Walter and Ruth Withers.  By the age of 3, Jane was achieving local fame on an Atlanta radio station as “Dixie’s Dainty Dewdrop” with her singing and imitations of famous movie stars.   Soon, it was on to Hollywood to try and make it into show business and Jane did child modeling and won a few bit parts in some movies in 1932 and 1933.   Her big break came in 1934, co-starring in the movie Bright Eyes, with Shirley Temple.  Jane was glad to be cast in the movie, but worried about playing a character who is mean to Shirley Temple!  She was concerned audiences wouldn’t like her and that that could be the end of her career.  In Bright Eyes, Shirley is the daughter of a maid for the rich and mean Smythe family.   Jane played Joy Smythe, the rich family’s daughter.  In one of her meanest scenes, she told Shirley’s character,” There aint’ any Santa Claus because my psychoanalyst told me!”  David Butler, the movie’s director, told Jane years later that she stole that film from Shirley.  Mrs. Temple, an ever present person on the movie’s set, must have sensed how good Jane’s acting was  because she limited how much time Shirley could spend with Jane and she also ordered that Jane wash her hands before and after all scenes that she had with Shirley!   Jane adored Shirley and they did manage to become friends in their teen years and are still friends today.

Shirley and Jane, still friends today.

Shirley and Jane, still friends today.

Jane being mean to Shirley in Bright Eyes.

Jane being mean to Shirley in Bright Eyes.

Bright Eyes was a box office hit and Jane received many positive notices from movie critics.   20th Century Fox took notice of Jane and she was signed to a long-term contract.    In 1935 she starred in the films Ginger and The Farmer Takes a Wife.  1936  arrived and Jane starred in the film Little Miss Nobody.  She was also listed as one of the Top 10 Box Office Stars for 1937-1938. In the 1940s, Jane was in 16 films, produced by Fox, Columbia, and Republic Studios.  In 1943,  Jane was in the cast of the film The North Star and received excellent notices for her role  She also wrote the screenplay for the 1941 film Small Town Deb. As I read about Jane, and looked up pictures from her career, I saw that her persona was used to sell children’s clothing, Jane Wither dolls, and as she arrived in her teen years, she was featured in many movie fan magazines.  Whitman Publishing Company even created  Authorized Editions which were 16 books, published from 1941-1947, featuring famous actresses in mystery adventures, similar to the popular Nancy Drew books.  Jane was featured in three of these books: Jane Withers and the Hidden Room, Jane Withers and the Phantom Violin, and Jane Withers and the Swamp Wizard.The Swamp Wizard!

Jane on the cover of a fan magazine.

Jane on the cover of a fan magazine.

In 1947,  Jane married Texas oil man William P. Moss, and they had  three children: William, Wendy, and Randy.  Sadly, the marriage ended in divorce in 1955.  That same year Jane wed for a second time, to Kenneth Errair, one of the singers in the group The Four Freshman.  This marriage was successful and produced two children, Ken and Kendall Jane. With her roles expanding as wife and mother, Jane’s acting career took a bit of a back seat at times.  She did appear in the 1956 film, Giant, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean.   Jane played Vashti, a good friend of Elizabeth’s character, Leslie.  During filming, Jane got to be very good friends with James Dean.  Dean had a favorite pink cowboy shirt that he was hesitant to have washed as he was worried that the studio’s laundry would ruin it or lose it.  Jane offered one day to wash the shirt for Dean and from then on, he had her wash that shirt for him.  One afternoon, she washed it as usual, not realizing that Dean would never wear it again; he tragically died in a car accident that evening.  Jane still has that pink shirt and keeps it as a very special reminder of a great friend.  Jane’s parents were christians, active at their church in Atlanta, helping to teach Sunday School classes, and Jane has said that that strong, spiritual faith has helped  her through many personal challenges.  I would like to add how refreshing it was to read about  a child actor who made it successfully to the level of adult actor, without any bitter comments or experiences to share.  Her parents were loving and supportive of Jane, not conniving to spend all of her earnings, not negative “stage parents”,  which sadly seems to be the case for a lot of child actors.

James Dean on the set of Giant.

James Dean on the set of Giant.

Throughout the 1960′s, 70′s, 80′s  Jane appeared on many television shows.  She has also done voice work for animated features in the 1990s.  Check out Jane Withers at IMDb for a  full list of her acting work.  In 1979, Jane was  honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its first Former Child Star Lifetime Achievement Award.    I would be remiss in not mentioning another blog, Journeys in Classic Film.  Kristen, who writes this great blog,  was able to attend Turner Classic Movies Film Festival  in Hollywood in late April and she got to meet and interview Jane Withers!  Click on the link for that interview and some more pictures of Jane at the festival.  I’ll close with some more great photos I found of Jane from her career.

Jane Withers today.

Jane Withers today.

Jane as Josephine the Plumber.

Jane as Josephine the Plumber.

Jane and Carol Burnett

Jane and Carol Burnett

Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Jane.

Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, and Jane.

Colorized shot of Jane from Bright Eyes.

Colorized shot of Jane from Bright Eyes.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 58 other followers