ClassicFlix (Teen Scene) – Review # 9: Father Is a Bachelor (1950)

From March 2015 to April 2017, I was writing the monthly Teen Scene column for the website ClassicFlix. My objective was to promote classic films among teenagers and young adults. Due to the establishing of a new version of the website, it’s now more difficult to access to the old version and read the reviews. But, I’m allowed to publish my reviews on my blog 30 days after they had been published on ClassicFlix! So, I decided to do so as you could have an easy access to them. If you are not a teenager, it doesn’t matter! I’m sure you can enjoy them just the same! My ninth review was for the 1950’s classic Father Is a Bachelor directed by Abby Berlin and Norman Foster. Enjoy!

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Fall is at its end, which gives us the clue that it’s Christmas soon! Outside of exchanging gifts and eating turkey with your family and friends, another thing you can do with them is, of course, watch a classic film. The perfect Christmas movie is, first and foremost, a family movie that doesn’t necessarily have to be where people celebrate Christmas. As long as you spend a great time watching it with your relatives, it works.

It’s a Wonderful Life and The Sound of Music are some of the best films to watch during Christmas holidays, but I had the desire to make you discover something new, a film you might have heard nothing about before. My choice for this month is the little-known Father is a Bachelor, directed by Abby Berlin and Norman Foster in 1950, starring William Holden and Coleen Gray.

Father is a Bachelor tells the story of Johnny Rutledge (William Holden), a singer and vagabond stuck in a small town when his friend, Professor Mordecai (Charles Winninger), is put in jail. While sailing on the quiet town lake in his boat, Johnny lands on the dock of a rustic country house. A little girl, May, welcomes him and introduces him to her four brothers: January, February, March and April. Johnny soon discovers they are orphans living in the house alone. They haven’t told anybody of their predicament, scared to be sent to the orphanage.

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Johnny is an independent person, but somehow feels responsible of these children once he has met them. He becomes a father figure to them, especially to the little May. He’ll do anything to make their life better. One day, he meets pretty Prudence Millett (Coleen Gray), daughter of Judge Millett (Lloyd Corrigan). She worries about the children living without their parents, but, to protect them, Johnny will make her believe he is their uncle.

Father is a Bachelor is a feel good movie, not only a family movie. You’ll never see such a more touching and lovable William Holden. From the beginning until the end, it makes you smile. And, in the sad moments, you’ll still have a feeling of hope. Without revealing it, you’ve probably guessed this film has a happy ending, but, honestly, who is willing to see something depressing for Christmas? I want my December’s choice to cheer you up!

Father is a Bachelor also has the distinction of being a quasi-musical. It’s not really, but people do sing at some points. It goes without saying, as Johnny has a talent for singing and uses it to earn his living. What a marvelous pleasure to see and hear William Holden sing! It adds a certain softness to his character and makes the film even more joyful. Unfortunately, it’s not William Holden’s real singing voice we hear. He was dubbed by Buddy Clark, an American singer of the ’30s and ’40s. I have no idea if William Holden himself could sing, but their choice is well picked, as the illusion is almost perfect. Buddy Clark’s singing voice fits perfectly with William Holden’s face.

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You have guessed one of the major reasons why this film should grab your attention is because it’s something different, something new. Apart from this, the richness of the characters is quite appealing. Some of them are seen less often than others but they all have their importance. They complete each other and all learn something about how we must deal with life in the right way; that we sometimes have to forgive, forget, move to something else, etc. It’s, of course, always a great thing when a classic film shows you such an abundance of life lessons.

This film’s magic is also expressed by the fact it simply makes you appreciate what you have. The children’s richest wish is to have a father and a mother. Happily, Johnny is here to take care of that.

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Father is a Bachelor remains a very simple film. It’s not a super production, and it didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar but it’s an entertaining one for everybody. Teens will appreciate it, as well as mommy, daddy, the little brother or sister, etc. It’s by being curious that we discover a film that can become a favorite.

So, what are you waiting for? Watch Father is a Bachelor, and may you share a beautiful moment with your family. Merry Christmas to all!

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