Bachelor Mother (1939)

Film details

Alternative titles

  • Little Mother Alternative


Polly Parish (Ginger Rogers), a temporary sales girl in the great J. B. Merlin Store, is persuaded by Freddie Miller (Frank Albertson) to go with him to a dance contest. Returning from lunch that day, Polly sees a baby wrapped in a blanket, falling off the steps of a foundling home, and runs to catch it. At that moment, the door opens and a matron (Edna Holland) asks Polly to come in. The doctor (Frank M. Thomas) and other officials assume Polly is the baby's mother and despite angry explanations, which convince them that she is lying, they learn her name and business address.

The home's investigator (Ernest Truex), goes to the store just after old Merlin (Charles Coburn) and his son David (David Niven) have had an argument over David's dissipation and late hours. David listens to the investigator's story sends for Polly, tells that she has a job for as long as she wants it, and finishes by promising a Christmas present to be delivered to her home that evening.

The present is the baby. When Freddie arrives, Polly takes the youngster with her, stops at the Merlin home and leaves the baby with the butler (E. E. Clive). David arrives as she is leaving, and with the baby and butler, hotly pursues the fleeing couple to the dance hall. David is thrown out of the dance and waits for Polly at home.

Unable to convince David that she owes no duty to the baby, Polly finally gives up, and meekly agrees to keep the youngster.

On New Year's Eve, David finds that the society girl he was planning to take to a party has broken the engagement. Finally he calls on Polly, and the girl, elaborately arrayed in clothes from the store, attends the party where her dancing makes her the hit of the evening.

Freddie, jealous of David, writes an anonymous note to the elder Merlin telling him that David is a father. Worried, Merlin follows the boy and sees him meet Polly out walking with the baby. He goes up to them and David introduces him to Polly. At home later, David and his father have a row, Merlin insisting that the baby is David's and that he wants David to marry the girl and bring her home so that he can have his grandson.

David and Polly both realise that the only way to stop Merlin is to have the real father of the baby appear, however, each goes about it in a different way and without the other's knowledge. Accordingly, Polly and Jerome Weiss (Leonard Penn), her landlady's son, arrive at the Merlin home and are telling Merlin that Jerome is the father when David bursts in with freddie and announces that the store clerk is the baby's father. Raging, Merlin calls them all crooked and Polly hurriedly escapes and returns to her room.

Merlin and David arrive, both determined now that David is to marry Polly. David tells Polly that has just realised he loves her and they will get married that night, and still unable to convince David that she is not the baby's mother, Polly accepts.

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