Bachelor Mother (1939): Garson Kanin Directs Ginger Rogers in Hit Oscar-Nominated Comedy

The turning point in Ginger Rogers’ career, after separating from Fred Astaire and their RKO musicals, “Bachelor Mother” was a commercial hit, demonstrating Rogers viability as a straight dramatic actress and comedienne. (Rogers won the 1940 Best Actress Oscar for “Kitty Foyle”).

Rogers plays Polly Parrish, a single saleswoman for a large department store (modeled on Macy’s), who one day finds a baby outside her apartment. She takes the baby in and everyone assumes it belongs to her.
There’s good rapport between Rogers and David Niven, playing his first lead, as the son of the store owner, played by vet Charles Coburn. At one point, Coburn exclaims: “I really don’t care who’s the father, all I know is that I’m the grandfather.”
Critics at the time marveled at how the production Code let a movie about a single mom pass by without any interference. In fact, the story that served as a basis for Norman Krasna’s funny script was nominated for an Oscar.
The film is directed by Garson Kanin, who became better known as the writing partner of future wife, Ruth Gordon. The couple provided several witty scripts for George Cukor, such as “Adam’s Rib,” Born Yesterday,” and “Pat and Mike.”
“Bachelor Mother” was remade in 1956 as “Bundle of Joy,” starring husband and wife Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, but the first version is superior in any possible way.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Original Story: Felix Jackson
Oscar Context:
The winner was Lewis R. Foster for Frank Capra’s hit political comedy, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”
Cast
Poll Parrish (Ginger Rogers)
David Merlin (David Niven)
J.b. Merlin (Charles Coburn)
Freddie Miller 9Frank Albertson)
Butler (E.E. Clive)
Credits:
Produced by B.G. DeSylva and Pandro Berman
Director: Garson Kanin
Screenplay: Norman Krasna, based in o a story by Felix Jackson
Costumes: Irene
Black-and-white
Running time: 80 Minutes