“The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer” comes alive for modern teens

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer comes alive for modern teens

Madison Dearie, staff writer and photographer, foregin correspondent

If you are one of those grandkids who spent quality time with your grandparents watching old movies, you probably remember a little girl named Shirley Temple.

For those of you less loved grandkids; Shirley Temple (yes, the drink is named after her) was one of the first child actors…In the 1940’s.

She was often called ‘Curly Top,’ due to the constant guessing over how many ringlets she actually had. 56 in fact, which her mother (one of the very first stage moms) put in every day before Shirley could leave the house. Shirley sang and danced in countless cheesy musicals—sometimes about animal crackers in her soup.

Well, now she’s back and she’s all grown up in “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer.” (A title that I’m sure makes little sense to those of us who were not around in 1947 with Mr. Spanier when this film came out). But Mr. Spanier has revived it, and it will be playing Wednesday at 2:45 in room 3203.

“The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer gives us a glimpse at the teenager in the mid 1940s—and it’s interesting to see the similarities to teens now as well as the differences,”Spanier said.

But what is it about? And is it worth going to?

As to the first question. A bachelor (played by the debonair Cary Grant). And a bobby-soxer (played by a 17-year-old Shirley Temple).

Note: A bobby-soxer is basically slang our grandparents used to talk about young girls who wore poodle skirts and socks to the ankle. (When they danced in their school’s gymnasiums, students had to remove their shoes, so the floor wouldn’t be scuffed and dance in their bobby socks—giving us the phrase ‘sock hop.’)

So, a bobby-soxer decides to chase after a handsome bachelor and artist who comes to speak at her high school.

The bachelor doesn’t want to have anything to do with her. But when the girl’s uncle, a psychiatrist, gets involved, he thinks the best thing is for the bachelor to play along until the girl’s infatuation ends.

So, the bachelor decides to pretend he really is in love with the girl, in the hopes that her stern, older sister, a judge—played by the famous Myrna Loy, will stop it then and there.

In the end, the girl gets the guy, the judge gets the bachelor and the bobby-soxer goes back to her high school sweetheart (called Jerry).
But what goes on in between?

“The humor in these older films is rapid fire: one liners and comebacks, witty comments that the audience might not catch on the first viewing so the film gets funnier each time you watch it,” Spanier said.

To us, it will be an incredibly cheesy movie, but the best ones always are. There’s a diner scene, lots of poodle skirts, people saying ‘swell,’ a love story, a brawl in a court room and by the end of it you won’t be able to stop saying—“You remind me of the man.”

“This film couldn’t be made in 2011 and be a cute, innocuous comedy. In 1947, yes. But not now. There’s something dark, unethical, taboo even thinking about making such a film now. And that makes it an interesting study of the cultural differences between now and 60 some years ago,” Spanier said.