Bundle of Joy (1956): Taurog’s Musical Remake of the Ginger Rogers Comedy, Bachelor Mother, Starring Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Starring Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (who were married at the time), Bundle of Joy is a mediocre Technicolor musical remake of the far superior 1939 comedy Bachelor Mother, which starred Ginger Rogers.

Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

Bundle of Joy

Theatrical release poster

Premise: Mistaken Identity

An unmarried salesgirl at a department store finds and takes care of an abandoned baby. Much confusion results when her co-workers assume that the child is hers and that the father is the son of the store owner.

Polly Parish (Reynolds) works in the Millinery Department at J.B. Merlin & Son’s department store on the Manhattan’s Upper East Side. One day, she is fired for overselling hats, which creates too many returns and too much work for the accounting department.

On her way back home, she finds an abandoned baby in a blanket and instinctively picks it up to comfort it. As she bends over, the door behind the step opens and a woman ushers Polly and the baby inside. Polly has not noticed the sign that indicates the door belongs to an orphanage.

Vet director Norman Taurog was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, though not much was known about the illness at the time.

The movie’s premiere, at the Capitol Theatre in New York on December 19, 1956, doubled as fundraiser for refugees of the Hungarian Revolution, which had ended only a month earlier.

Reynolds was pregnant with Carrie Fisher during production of this film as well as Tammy and the Bachelor.

Eddie Fisher later wrote that he “tried my best to do a good job in” the film. “In fact, both Debbie and I worked so hard that we didn’t even go home during the last few weeks of shooting. We stayed in a bungalow on the lot.” When he saw the final cut he said “As bad as I was, the picture was even worse, a bomb… Bundle of Joy laid a financial egg, the songs disappeared without a trace and Debbie’s was the only movie career that managed to survive.”

Eddie Fisher as Dan Merlin
Debbie Reynolds as Polly Parish
Adolphe Menjou as J. B. Merlin, Dan’s father and Polly’s ultimate boss
Tommy Noonan as Freddie Miller
Nita Talbot as Mary
Una Merkel as Mrs. Dugan
Melville Cooper as Adams
Gil Stratton as Mike Clancy
Bill Goodwin as Mr. Creely
Howard McNear as Mr. Appleby
Robert H. Harris as Mr. Hargraves
Mary Treen as Matron