Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ginger Rogers: Single Mom


Hey, everybody, it's everyone's favorite actress Ginger Rogers playing an unwed mother in 1939's Bachelor Mother. (And here I had gotten the impression from all those Fred Astaire movies that she was a nice girl.)

Okay, seriously, the character Ginger plays in this movie, Polly Parrish, is a nice girl, and the process through which she becomes an unwed mother is more of a comedy of errors than the usual way would be. The whole thing starts one day when Parrish sees a woman leaving an infant on the doorstep of the local foundling home. Fearing for the baby's safety, she takes it upon herself to take the baby inside. There she gets caught up in a huge misunderstanding when she is mistaken for the child's birth mother and well...things escalate from there.

One subplot involves a feisty co-worker talking her into joining a local dance contest. (Though where the writers got the idea that Ginger Rogers was a good dancer, I'll never know...) Yet another subplot involves her tentative romance with a patrician character named David Merlin (played by David Niven, natch) who just happens to be the son of her boss. (And in a way, he's her boss as well.)

Since this is a comedy written during the Code era, the writers do not mention the most obvious drawbacks to being a single mother like Parrish, but to their credit, they do not pretend that the experience is a day in the park either. Even though Ms. Parrish gets help from a kindly landlady and David Merlin, she still ends up losing a lot of sleep due to an infant which is not even hers. Nor can she escape the unwanted stigma that all too often came with being an unwed mother in that era.

Fortunately, she gets a happy ending of sorts. But unfortunately, said ending requires her to play a role she never really wanted to play to begin with: that of the child's mother. More than a few of the movie's male characters have to deal with embarrassing misunderstandings too but Ms. Parrish proves to be the only character in the movie who is never truly vindicated.

Here's hoping she at least got a heck of a gift on Mother's Day. The poor dear definitely earned it.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Campaspe said...

I love this movie, to me it's a charmer. Ginger was such a good comedienne and David Niven gives one of his funniest early performances: "He can recite the first lines of Gunga Din!" The running gag about Donald Duck dolls cracks me up as well.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Tonio Kruger said...

Well, I liked the movie too. And, yes, Ginger was a good comedienne.

I just found some of the plot developments to be ironic. However,given the era in which it was made, it probably would have been foolish of me to expect a different sort of movie.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

Oh no, I got that you liked it. :) You are quite right about the ironies of Ginger's situation and the weirdnesses that the Code mandated. It's just that whenever someone brings up Bachelor Mother I start thinking about David Niven and those ducks. I can't help myself.

7:00 PM  

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