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A Slice Of Teenage Life Circa 1940s
on March 4, 2017
Beyond an interest is seeing Myra Loy in some film other than in one of the famous 1940s series The Thin Man where she played Nora to William Powell’s Nick Charles I was interested in seeing how teenagers survived in the 1940s, a generation before me. Many times a middling film like the one under review The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, and this at best in only a middling film on its face these old time black and white films gave you a slice of life of what was going on at the time of the film (here it is even etched in the title, or part of the title where the term “bobby-soxer” reflected a certain condition where young girls wound up wearing socks instead of nylons to be able to dance on the slippery gym floors to music by guys like Frank Sinatra and Vaughn Monroe). Although there was so of that to chew on the reality of this one turned on the antics of the adults-the adult version of the boy meets girl theme that has sustained Hollywood in good times and bad for over a century now.
Here is how if you can believe this, or rather can suspend your disbelief, this one hit the road. Artist Richard Nugent, played by Cary Grant, is brought before hanging judge (only kidding this is a comedy remember) Margaret Turner, played by Myrna Loy, for some brawl at a nightclub. After accepting his alibi she releases him so that he can go about his real business of the day which is to give a lecture on the virtues of art and culture in history to an assembly hall full of bored high school students. (Some things never change.) Except one student, a girl, a smart girl, Susan played by an almost grown-up Shirley Temple, who also happened to be Judge Turner’s younger sister flipped out over Richard’s looks and demeanor. Liked the idea of falling for an older man. You know there has to be trouble even in a comedy when you get a teenager and an older man lined up together.
Now we are off to the races (literally at one point when there was an only could happen in dinky high school silly parents’ day events put together). Susan makes a big play for Richard after dumping her silly high school boyfriend (a wise move even if heading toward Richard would come crashing down on her and even though, get this, said boyfriend had a car, “wheels, ” a boss car). Makes the play though by sneaking into Richards digs. Somehow the Judge with an Assistant D.A. in tow goes to Richard’s place to save innocent Susan’s virtue (and damn she was the epitome of 1940s innocence or what looked like 1940s innocence). Richard whacked the ADA on general principles and he wound up in jail. Then in a bow to pop psychology the court “shrink” gives a “solution” to that Susan infatuation-let the kid round around with Richard and she will soon tire of him, her infatuation will be burned out of her. Okay, Doc.
In the event Susan after that literal race business sees the light that she should stick with her own generation and goes back to that old boyfriend (and his “boss” car don’t forget not a bad booby prize). Then we get into the serious boy meets girl business since as the story line pushes itself along Richard and Margaret are carrying torches for each other. Naturally that can’t happen, opposites can’t attract. and they have a falling out when they are at a nightclub and some old flame of Richard’s makes a big play for him. End of story. No. Once more bowing to pop psychology that hell-bent court “shrink” sets the pair up as each are at the airport supposedly to get away in order to get over each other. After sighting each other they go walking arm and arm to the propeller-propped plane. Good luck. So the only real thing that I learned about 1940s teen culture was something I knew from 1960s teen culture-“boss” cars are a magnet for good-looking girls. Remember that.