The Quarantine Stream: 'The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer' Has One The Most Ludicrous Premises In All Of Cinema

(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they've been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The Movie: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

Where You Can Stream It: The Criterion Channel

The Pitch: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and a teenaged Shirley Temple find themselves in an unlikely (and totally insane) love triangle.

Why It's Essential Viewing: Because this movie features one of the most bonkers premises ever committed to film.

Margaret (Myrna Loy) is a judge who, early in the movie, presides over a case against a dashing artist, Richard Nugent (Cary Grant), who is accused of inciting a fight at a nightclub. He charms his way out of the situation and heads to the local high school to give a lecture about art. That's where Margaret's 17-year-old sister Susan (Temple) sees him and falls head over heels in love – despite Richard being decades older than her. She throws herself at him, but he's clearly not interested. But when Richard eventually returns home that night, he finds Susan in his apartment – and chaos breaks out because the judge and the local assistant D.A. think something nefarious might have happened. (It didn't.)

Here's the bonkers part: instead of charging Nugent with a crime, the judge (and several other adults!) come to the conclusion that the best course of action is...to order Nugent to date Susan until she gets over her infatuation with him. Nugent obviously doesn't want to go to jail, so he agrees, and the rest of the movie is a series of comic escapades in which Cary Grant's character goes along with this plan while desperately trying to get Susan to fall in love with a boy her own age. Naturally, Loy ends up falling for Grant, too, and the whole thing crescendos in a wonderfully absurd scene at a fancy club in which half a dozen characters all gather around the same table trying to get to untangle the web of misunderstandings that have led them there. (There's a hilarious running joke with the restaurant staff constantly interrupting the proceedings by singing "Happy Birthday" to multiple patrons – you've gotta see it for the full impact, but it's great.)

A couple of stray notes:

  • Shirley Temple was 19 when this movie came out, and this was the oldest I'd ever seen her on screen. She's obviously best known for her iconic work as a young child actor, but she was solid in this, too.
  • As always, Grant is fantastic here, always staying on the correct side of the line of decency and making it easy to root for him despite the absolute insanity of the scenario in which he finds himself.
  • Writer Sidney Sheldon, who went on to create TV shows like I Dream of Jeannie and Hart to Hart and have a lucrative career writing romantic suspense novels, won an Oscar for writing this film's screenplay.