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A surprise Academy Award® winner for Best Original Screenplay copped by Sidney Sheldon (yes, that Sidney Sheldon, the future best selling author at the beginning of his 50 year plus career), The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) delighted audiences who lined up to see it again and again during its enormously successful post Oscar® re-issue. (RKO was convinced that their Goldwyn co-produced The Bishop's Wife would be the sure shot win for this category while Ed Sullivan predicted that the film's star Cary Grant was a shoe-in for Best Actor; neither were even nominated!).
Newly appointed RKO head Dore Schary, while certainly pleased, remained indifferent to the picture as did the stellar supporting cast comprised of Myrna Loy and Shirley Temple, whose reminiscences of the production were far less amusing than the final results (no doubt a bow to the overall professionalism of the entire company). The problem, believe it or not, was Cary Grant who was a hindrance during most of the shooting.
Grant, who, after two enormous hits, Notorious (1946) and Night and Day (1946), decided it was time to go back to his specialty comedies. MGM pitched him The Hucksters, which he turned down, admonishing the studio for not starring the obvious superior choice - their own house star, Clark Gable. Prior to The Bishop's Wife came the script for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer which Grant accepted to help work off his old RKO contract. While his initial enthusiasm virtually green lighted the project, industry veterans knew that this was not a guarantee. Throughout Grant's career, the perennially moody star would continually agree to then bail out on a diverse number of projects, including Red River (1948), The Land Unknown (1957) and Man's Favorite Sport? (1964).
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer had a number of built in negatives from day one - most prominently Cary's public disapproval of director Irving Reis, campaigning instead for the services of Leo McCarey. Grant further tarnished the proceedings by complaining to Schary that Reis lacked credentials (having just graduated from the 'B' unit), had no understanding of comedy and favored Loy by allowing her "...to get away with murder." This uneasy relationship caused many blow-ups during the shooting, complicated by Schary directing scenes with Grant. At one point, a ticked off Reis got so incensed that he walked off the picture. Grant was also troubled by an FBI investigation involving his close friend Howard Hughes. This did not improve when a week before filming the reclusive millionaire hovered near death after a crack-up in his new prototype XF-11 airplane. To make matters worse, Grant's longtime business partner, Frank Vincent, suffered a fatal heart attack. Needless to say, the picture was not a happy shoot. Fortunately, none of this unpleasantness showed up on the screen; in fact, the movie opened to wonderful reviews, which translated into an almost unprecedented 5.5 million dollars in ticket sales. To say that The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer carried RKO over into 1948 is no understatement. Most remarkable (in lieu of the above events) was the on-camera chemistry between Grant and Loy, who immediately were re-teamed for the studio's equally profitable Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). When Grant at last received his long overdue honorary Oscar® in 1969, one of the select people he thanked was Sidney Sheldon, proving that in Hollywood time can definitely heal most if not all wounds - especially when said injury pays off at the box office.
Producer: Dore Schary
Director: Irving G. Reis
Screenplay: Sidney Sheldon
Cinematography: Robert de Grasse
Film Editing: Frederic Knudtson
Original Music: Constantin Bakaleinikoff
Principal Cast: Cary Grant (Richard "Dick" Nugent), Myrna Loy (Judge Margaret Turner), Shirley Temple (Susan Turner), Rudy Vallee (Tommy Chamberlain), Ray Collins (Matt Beemish)
BW-96m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Mel Neuhaus