Cast & Crew
Patsy Douglas, a mimeograph operator at the advertising firm owned by Sam Morley and Barry Holmes, can never get a seat on the crowded subway until one day, she volunteers to hold a baby for an over-burdened mother and discovers that people willingly give up their seats. Later, Patsy, who has a crush on Morley, is offered a temporary job as his secretary. Patsy is a failure as a secretary, but she is in Morley's office long enough to learn that Cyrus Baxter, owner of Baxter's Baby Foods, the company's main account, has rejected their latest campaign. Morley orders the Baxter display dismantled, and that night, as she leaves, Patsy grabs the baby doll that was part of the display. Wrapping the doll in a blanket, she masquerades as a mother with a baby and thus is able to get a seat on the subway. The next day, Baxter, who has a violent temper, gets stuck in traffic, and takes out his frustration on his chauffeur, who quits on the spot. Baxter is forced to take the subway and sits next to Patsy, who is carrying the disguised doll. In response to a question from another passenger, Patsy reveals that her "baby" is named Cyrus after the founder of Baxter's Baby Foods. Baxter is thrilled and strikes up a conversation with her, although he does not reveal his identity. When he learns that she works for Morley-Holmes, he determines to help her out. Later, he orders Morley and Holmes to make sure that she is happy at work. In the meantime, however, Patsy is fired. Morley and Holmes immediately search for her, then offer her a new job as a copywriter. That night, Baxter delivers a high chair to Patsy's apartment, but, believing him to be only a low-paid watchman, she insists on returning it the next day. At the store, Patsy is treated to a display of Baxter's bad temper and advises him to recite the poem The Song of Hiawatha whenever he becomes angry. Patsy then meets Morley for lunch and reveals that she is unmarried. Startled, Morley says nothing, assuming that her "baby" is illegitimate. Late that night, Patsy stops by the office to offer her help to Morley, who is working overtime on a new campaign for Baxter. She suggests that he stop trying to guess what will please Baxter and write a campaign that he likes. By the end of the evening, Morley has fallen in love with Patsy. Holmes then suggests that Patsy present the new ideas to Baxter. In so doing, Patsy discovers Baxter's real identity and, realizing that a misunderstanding has been behind her promotion, leaves without showing him the proposal. Patsy tells the truth to Morley and Holmes, who insist that she keep up the deception until Baxter signs a new contract. She refuses and quits, but Morley follows her home, where he explains the damage that will result if they lose the Baxter account because of her. When Baxter unexpectedly arrives, Morley is forced to hide in Patsy's apartment. After a series of mishaps, Morley encounters Baxter and shows him Holmes's baby picture, claiming it is a photograph of little Cyrus. Baxter soon recognizes that the baby resembles Holmes and, assuming that he is the baby's father, insists that Holmes marry Patsy. Although Holmes agrees to pretend to be engaged to Patsy, she has other ideas, and he then sets out to woo her. Morley becomes jealous, and when the two men argue over her at a nightclub, Patsy decides it is time for her to leave. Encountering Baxter outside her apartment, Patsy starts to tell him the truth, but when he explains how his life has changed since he met her, she backs down. Instead, she tells Baxter that she is leaving New York for good. Without Patsy, Baxter returns to his contentious behavior. He then hires Corcoran, a private investigator, to find her. Although Corcoran reports that he has been unable to find Patsy, he does learn that she does not have a baby. Morley finally explains everything to Baxter and admits that he is in love with Patsy. Then, when Corcoran suddenly starts to recite the poem The Song of Hiawatha to calm his temper, as Patsy always recommended, they all realize that without knowing it, he has found her. Later Morley waits for Patsy outside her new job and follows her to the subway. She accepts his proposal, and they leave the subway at the City Hall stop.
Mary Alan Hokanson
Ed Peil Sr.
Everett A. Brown
Charles H. Clarke
H. F. Koenekamp
Maurice De Packh
Egbert Van Alstyne
Pretty Baby (1950)
When Douglas discovers that mothers with babies are more apt to get seats on the subway, she borrows the baby doll from the Baxter Baby Food campaign in the ad agency's lobby, toting it in a blanket to and from work each day. One day she happens to sit next to Baxter on the subway. He takes an immediate shine to her and to her "baby" which she tells him she has named Cyrus in his honor. Morley and his ad agency partner Barry Holmes (Zachary Scott) are indebted to Baxter, an important agency client who fired them when their last campaign flopped. When Morley and Holmes find out that Baxter is enamored with Douglas, the men conspire to do everything they can to win back the Baxter Baby Food account for the company. At the strong insistence of Baxter, Douglas is promoted to copy writer--despite a definite lack of skill in that realm--thus placing her in even closer proximity to Morley, for whom she has been harboring a longtime crush.
There was also some behind-the-scenes promotion at work in making sure Betsy Drake had the starring role in Pretty Baby. Married to Cary Grant from 1949-1962, third wife Drake (Every Girl Should Be Married, , Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, ) was aggressively promoted by Grant to Jack Warner for the lead in Pretty Baby. Grant biographer Marc Eliot described the film as "a nondescript comedy co-starring Dennis Morgan and Zachary Scott, two leftovers from the war years, when actors in Hollywood were scarce and anything that moved in pants, stood over five foot five, and had a military deferment qualified as leading-man material." Despite Eliot's estimation, both actors had notable, memorable roles to their credit. Zachary Scott, the son of a wealthy Texas surgeon, was memorably smarmy as the spoiled rich lothario Monte Beragon in the 1945 film noir/women's picture Mildred Pierce. And Dennis Morgan's engaging performance as a sweet-natured sailor in Christmas in Connecticut (1945) opposite Barbara Stanwyck helped make that film a Christmas classic.
Later remade into a TV movie with Natalie Wood entitled Girl on a Subway (1958), Pretty Baby is a classic Hollywood Cinderella story of a girl whose pluck and personality attracts notice and propels her from the working girl depths to that particularly American fantasy, of finding love with her boss.
Look for a cameo in Pretty Baby from Barbara Billingsley (mom June Cleaver from the TV series Leave It to Beaver) as an ad agency receptionist. William Frawley, future I Love Lucy regular Fred Mertz, also appears in a small role.
Director: Bretaigne Windust
Producer: Harry Kurnitz
Screenplay: Everett Freeman and Harry Kurnitz from the story "Gay Deception" by Jules Furthman and John D. Klorer
Cinematography: Peverell Marley
Production Design: Charles H. Clarke
Music: David Buttolph
Cast: Dennis Morgan (Sam Morley), Betsy Drake (Patsy Douglas), Zachary Scott (Barry Holmes), Edmund Gwenn (Cyrus Baxter), William Frawley (Corcoran), Raymond Roe (Sidney), Ransom Sherman (Powers), Sheila Stephens (Peggy), Eleanor Audley (Miss Brindel), George Chandler (Henderson), Barbara Billingsley (Receptionist).
by Felicia Feaster
Pretty Baby (1950)
On 29 July 1949, Hollywood Reporter reported that Jack Warner was negotiating with Cary Grant to co-star with Betsy Drake in this film. Drake and Grant, who had become romantically involved, eloped shortly after production started on the picture. According to the production notes, Warner Bros. built a complete replica of the New York City Spring St. subway station, including the train, for the film. Dennis Morgan and Drake reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story on November 20, 1950.