Mother Is a Freshman


1h 21m 1949
Mother Is a Freshman

Brief Synopsis

Widow Abby Abbott is having serious money problems and has to dip into the family trust in order to pay for her daughter Susan's college tuition. The catch: Abby must also become a co-ed or she can't touch the money. After passing her entrance exams, Abby goes to college and becomes very popular, especially with a handsome English professor whom Susan has a crush on.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Mar 1949
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,281ft (8 reels)

Synopsis

In New York, Abby Abbott and her seventeen-year-old daughter Susan live on a trust fund established by Abby's late husband. The money is allocated every three years by the family attorney, John Heaslip, who advises Abby that she is currently overdrawn and that the next payment will not occur until the following year. Abby, who has rejected Heaslip's proposal of marriage, is concerned that Susan will not be able to continue her studies at Pointer College, and investigates a scholarship fund, set up there by her grandmother, which awards $3,000 annually to any female of high morals with the name of Abigail Fortitude. Like her grandmother, Abby's maiden name is Abigail Fortitude, so she decides to enroll at Pointer as the scholarship would see them through until the next trust fund payment. Abby is also anxious to check on Susan, who is enamoured of a young English professor, Richard Michaels, who has secretly been writing pulp murder mysteries under a pen name. Abby decides that she will not reveal that she is Susan's mother, but after she manages to pass the entrance exam, she has an interview with Dean Gillingham, who has noted that she and Susan share the same home address. After the dean agrees to keep her secret, Abby enrolls in takes Richard's English course. Richard shows considerable interest in the mature, sophisticated woman in his class, and later, suggests that Abby could benefit from additional tutoring and arranges to see her one evening at his house. What Abby initially fears might be a compromising situation turns out to be a pleasant evening when Dean and Mrs. Gillingham arrive as fellow dinner guests. During the evening, however, the dean slips up and calls Abby, "Mrs. Abbott." Both men are surprised when Abby remarks that one of her classmates is reading an "awfully lurid thing" called The Gravedigger and the Chambermaid , which Susan had earlier purchased. When Richard escorts Abby back to her dorm, he asks her if she is married and she explains her situation and that she is Susan's mother. He invites her to the Sophomore Cotillion and they kiss goodnight. Susan, meanwhile, thinks her mother is checking Richard out as a potential son-in-law. Later, matters become complicated when Susan tells her mother that she is really in love with Richard as, by then, Abby is too. When Richard fails to invite her to the cotillion, Susan agrees to go with student body president Beaumont Jackson and, unaware that Richard has invited Abby, asks John Heaslip to escort her. Abby does not want to hurt Susan and tries to get out of going with Richard but he insists. On their way into the dance, Beau surprises Susan by telling her that he is in love with her. At the dorm, meanwhile, Richard and John both show up to escort Abby and reveal that they know each other from student days at Yale. At the dance, John surprises Abby with the news that he has sold some of her stocks and that she is now financially stable and need not continue in college. Susan is upset about her mother being with Richard, but when Abby decides to give him up, he tries to convince Susan that she should encourage her mother in her love for him. Later, as Abby says goodbye to Richard, Susan runs up and begs her to stay at the college and with Richard. After Susan returns to Beau, Richard confesses that he is the author of The Gravedigger and the Chambermaid and Abby confesses that she has read it--twice.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Mar 1949
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 21m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,281ft (8 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Costume Design

1949

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, at producer Walter Morosco's instigation, the studio purchased the unpublished, uncopyrighted story "Mother Is a Freshman" from Raphael David Blau in February 1948 for $8,500. Mary Loos and Richard Sale were the only writers on the project although studio head Darryl F. Zanuck made many contributions to the outlines and screenplay drafts as was his custom with all of the studio's "A" productions. According to a February 1948 memo to Morosco, Zanuck was considering Celeste Holm and June Haver for the mother-daughter roles and Robert Young for the professor. By July 1948, John Lund was being considered for the role of "Richard." Loretta Young returned to the studio after an eight-year absence to play "Abby," and Van Johnson, on his first loan-out from M-G-M, was cast as "Richard." Production began with location shooting at the University of Nevada in Reno, where the studio had previously shot portions of Margie and Apartment for Peggy. The film contains a reference to actor Rudy Vallee's other career as a singer when "Richard" reminds "John" of the night at the Yale Junior Prom when he "climbed upon the bandstand and sang 'Boola, Boola' through a megaphone. Boy, were you lousy!" The role of "Prof. Romaine," played by Henri Letondal, was cut before the film's opening, according to studio records. Although the Call Bureau Cast Service lists Ruth Tobey in the cast, her participation in the released film is doubtful. Mother Is a Freshman received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (Color). The film was released in Great Britain as Mother Knows Best. A radio adaptation starring Loretta Young was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on October 17, 1949.