Bachelor Mother

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Bachelor Mother
Bachelor Mother1.jpg
Directed byGarson Kanin
Produced byBuddy G. DeSylva
Written byFelix Jackson (story)
Norman Krasna
StarringGinger Rogers
David Niven
Charles Coburn
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyRobert De Grasse
Edited byHenry Berman
Robert Wise
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • June 30, 1939 (1939-06-30)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,975,000[1]

Bachelor Mother (1939) is an American comedy film directed by Garson Kanin, and starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven, and Charles Coburn. The screenplay was written by Norman Krasna based on an Academy Award-nominated story[2] by Felix Jackson (a.k.a. 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.

It was remade in 1956 as Bundle of Joy, starring Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher; this movie also inspired some Bollywood movies like Kunwara Baap .


Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) is a salesgirl at the department store John B. Merlin and Son in New York City. Hired as temporary help for the Christmas season, she receives her dismissal notice as the season comes to a close. During her lunch break, she sees a stranger leaving a baby on the steps of an orphanage. Fearing the baby will roll down the steps, Polly picks it up. An attendant opens the door and mistakenly believes that Polly is the baby's 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 assume that role, 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".

When J.B. learns about the child, he assumes that David is the father. His suspicions are reinforced 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.[3]


Ginger Rogers, Garson Kanin (director) & Pandro S. Berman (executive producer) on the set


Louis Hayward was originally announced as the male lead.[4]

The film was originally known as Little Mother. Cary Grant was going to co-star, then James Ellison and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.[5]


The film was a big hit and earned RKO a profit of $827,000.[1]

Adaptations to other media[edit]

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).


  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994, pg. 55
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2011-03-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2009-05-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ 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], November 22, 1938, p. A10.
  5. ^ Special to The New York Times. (1939, Jan 27). SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

External links[edit]