Cast & Crew
Tough but generous Mrs. Laura Bayles, principal of Avondale High School, devotes her life to her students and counsels them with evenhanded care. Consequently, when the well-being of her "children" is threatened by a "back room" drinking and gambling operation run by former student Clarence "Click" Dade, she attempts to force its closure. Her efforts, however, are hindered by the skillful manipulations of Holland, the unscrupulous school superintendent, and by Joseph Killaine, the town's political boss. To fight fire with fire, Mrs. Bayles throws down $250 at Click's gambling table and, using a pair of his loaded dice, wins enough money to open her own club. Although the teenagers enjoy the new jazz-filled cafe, Gerry, Killaine's spoiled, wild daughter, who is in love with Sandy, an older, clean-living delivery man, causes a fight to break out when Sandy rebuffs her. After the cafe is closed down, Superintendent Holland and Killaine then demand Mrs. Bayles's dismissal, two years before her pension eligibility. Defeated and facing a bleak future, Mrs. Bayles nevertheless accepts the apologies of a remorseful, reformed Gerry, and of Click, who has secretly wired the President of the United States, another former student of Mrs. Bayles who has been traveling in the area. On the steps of the school building, the President delivers a rousing speech to the townspeople about the virtues of motherhood and the value of dedicated but unappreciated teachers like the grand old Mrs. Bayles.
Edward Van Sloan
Fred Kohler Jr.
George Offerman Jr.
Theodor Von Eltz
D. A. Cutler
Arthur T. Horman
Van Nest Polglase
Grand Old Girl
May Robson was born in Melbourne, Australia on April 19, 1858. She moved to the U.S. as a teenager and began her acting career on stage. Robson's first film appearance was in the 1916 adaptation of a play she had written herself called A Night Out. Her next movie would come a full ten years later with the melodrama Pals in Paradise (1926). From this point on, Robson would work continuously in Hollywood. She would make some 60 pictures over the next fifteen years. Some of Robson's most notable roles include: The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1933); Katharine Hepburn's Aunt Elizabeth in Bringing Up Baby (1938); Clark Gable's mother Mimi in the comedy Wife vs. Secretary (1936); and Countess Vronsky in Anna Karenina (1935) with Greta Garbo in the title role.
Robson is most likely best remembered for her turn as Apple Annie in Capra's Lady for a Day (1933). She would be Oscar® nominated for the performance which made her the first Australian to be nominated in an acting category. Robson also holds another record with the nomination the earliest birth date of any Oscar® nominee making her, not the oldest performer nominated at 75-years old, but the first born. Robson continued to work into her '80s. She played Aunt Etta in the Fannie Hurst story Four Wives (1940) and appeared as Grandma Kyser in the Kay Kyser comedy-musical Playmates (1941). Robson's final film would be Joan of Paris (1942) in which she played a British Intelligence agent.
Like Robson, Grand Old Girl's co-stars Alan Hale and Mary Carlisle were also enjoying successful careers at the time the film was made. Hale entered films in 1911 and had starred with silent greats such as Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922). Hale's sound career was on the rise when Grand Old Girl was filmed. He had recently appeared in the Bette Davis-Leslie Howard drama Of Human Bondage and the John Ford war adventure The Lost Patrol (both 1934). Likewise, Carlisle had made a name for herself as a B-movie regular in films such as Wheeler and Woolsey's Kentucky Kernels and the mystery Murder in the Private Car (both 1934).
Fred MacMurray, on the other hand, was just starting out when Grand Old Girl was made. He had appeared in bit parts in three films prior, but Grand Old Girl would be MacMurray's first real screen role and he was third billed. Not a bad start! MacMurray's next film would be The Gilded Lily (1935), establishing two long-standing relationships - one with Paramount (his studio for the next ten years) and the other with co-star Claudette Colbert (they would make eight films together).
One other note of interest about Grand Old Girl is its story by Wanda Tuchock. Her other screen credits include King Vidor's Hallelujah! (1929), the 1931 version of The Champ and the Garbo-Gable vehicle The Rise and Fall of Susan Lenox (1931).
Producer: Cliff Reid
Director: John S. Robertson
Screenplay: Milton Krims, Wanda Tuchock, John Twist
Cinematography: Lucien N. Andriot
Film Editing: George Crone
Art Direction: Al Herman, Van Nest Polglase
Music: Bernhard Kaun, Max Steiner
Cast: May Robson (Laura Bayles), Mary Carlisle (Gerry Killaine), Fred MacMurray (Sandy), Alan Hale (Clarence Dade), Etienne Girardot (Mellis), William Burress (Butts).
by Stephanie Thames
Grand Old Girl
The working titles of this film were Portrait of Laura Bayles and Woman Aroused. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Raymond Borzage and Mary Jordan to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed.