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Ray Milland (Star of the Month)
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,The Bachelor Father

The Bachelor Father

Despite the influence of on her career of sugar daddy William Randolph Hearst, who kept sticking her into dreary romantic dramas that would have been old-fashioned in the gay nineties, Marion Davies was actually an actress ahead of her time. For one thing, she was one of the first stars - male or female - to take over production of her own films. For another, her deft comic acting was surprisingly light and realistic for the years when she reigned as a film star.

This 1931 confection was ahead of its time in subject matter, too. The Bachelor Father was adapted from a stage hit by Edward Childs Carpenter, who was noted for mildly risque comedies. His most famous work is probably Connie Goes Home, about a young woman who masquerades as a chld only to get caught in a compromising situation. The play provided the inspiration for Billy Wilder's first directing assignment, The Major and the Minor.

In The Bachelor Father, C. Aubrey Smith re-creates his stage role as an aging British philanderer who decides to look up the three children he fathered out of wedlock. Davies plays his American heir, a high-spirited girl who dreams of following in Amelia Earhart's footsteps and piloting a trans-Atlantic flight.

The Bachelor Father went into production shortly after famed photographer Cecil Beaton had named Davies one of the six most beautiful women in Hollywood, along with Greta Garbo, Dolores Del Rio, Norma Shearer, Alice White and Lillian Gish. The honor brought with it the chance to be photographed by Beaton in New York, but when she showed up in a fairly conservative dress, he complained that he had wanted to shoot her with bare shoulders. Undaunted, she grabbed a pair of scissors and cut a new neckline for the dress. It was just that wild playfulness that Gibbons had hoped to capture, and which helped make films like The Bachelor Father such fan favorites.

Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Producer: Marion Davies, Robert Z. Leonard
Screenplay: Lawrence E. Johnson, based on the play by Edward Childs Carpenter
Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Cast: Marion Davies (Tony Flagg), Ralph Forbes (John Ashley), C. Aubrey Smith (Sir Basil Winterton), Ray Milland (Geoffrey Trent), Nena Quartaro (Maria Credaro), Halliwell Hobbes (Larkin).

by Frank Miller



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