The Man-Crazy Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple falls for Cary Grant – and who can blame her? Image: laskdjf askjdf d
Shirley Temple falls for Cary Grant – and who can blame her? Image: Miss Shirley Temple

In 1947, Shirley Temple was 18 going on 19 and struggling with a difficult marriage.

Her career was faltering, too. She was no longer the winsome child star who had charmed millions of moviegoers during the bleakest years of the Depression. She was now one of many talented young actresses in Hollywood.

But Temple wasn’t a seasoned pro for nothing, and if you watch films from the last years of her movie career, you can’t detect the off-screen pressures she must have faced. She was a hard worker, starring in three (three!) films released in 1947: Honeymoon, That Hagen Girl and, one of our personal favourites, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer

Now, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer is one of those films that suggests you leave your critical thinking skills at home. However, it does deliver hearty laughs in return.

The film stars Cary Grant as an affable painter of contemporary American life. He is one of those fellows who’s always in trouble, usually with women. However, his real headaches begin when he gives a lecture at the high school Temple attends, and discovers Temple has developed a sudden, fierce crush on him.

After the rousing lecture, Temple rushes to meet Grant in the school hallway, and introduces herself as a representative of the school newspaper. She fawns over Grant and gushes over the Suffering Of The Artistic Soul. While the uncomfortable Grant tries to make a polite getaway, Temple immediately starts grilling him on his love life. This makes Grant wonder what kind of newspaper the school actually publishes:

Temple: “Oh, all the students read it.”
Grant: “I’ll bet they do!”

Grant is Not Interested in Temple for many reasons, including her age. Yet, their scenes sparkle with on-screen chemistry, the way scenes do between two professional actors.

Myrna Loy also stars as Temple’s accomplished older sister, a judge who is well aware of Grant’s reputation. She considers the remote possibility of Temple dating him as odious: “I’d just as soon my sister were going out with an actor.

Although the cast includes the ultra-fab Rudy Vallee and Ray Collins, it’s Temple’s charismatic performance that elevates the film and, ironically, makes Grant and Loy even more culturally significant.

sdfj skdfj Image: Doctor Macro
Myrna Loy (left) is not amused by Grant’s protestations. Image: Dr. Macro

The term bobby-soxer was popular during the 1940s and 1950s. Bobby socks (short socks that reach just above the ankle) became fashionable during WWII and, after the war, were often worn with saddle shoes. This style was especially popular with teenage girls and young women.

More importantly, the bobby-soxer crowd made big stars out of singers like Frank Sinatra and actors like Van Johnson. Just like today’s teenage girl demographic, these young women could elevate a performer’s status to über-stardom.

By portraying a bobby-soxer, Temple was endorsing the longevity of Grant and Loy. It’s telling that Loy is not cast as Temple’s mother, but her older sister, and Temple’s crush on the 40-something Grant only enhanced his status as a romantic leading man.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer was a profitable film for RKO; it tied with The Egg and I as the second-highest grossing film of 1947. It also won a screenwriting Oscar.

Grant and Loy may have gained street cred with the younger set in this charming film, but it did not save Temple’s film career. By 1950, she was out of the movies and her troubled marriage – but had embarked on other challenges in her remarkable life.

The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer: starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple. Directed by Irving Reis. Written by Sidney Sheldon. RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., 1947, B&W, 95 mins.

This post is part of The 1947 Blogathon co-hosted by Shadows & Satin and Speakeasy. Click HERE to see today’s fab entries.



53 thoughts on “The Man-Crazy Shirley Temple

  1. The short shrift that is often given to Shirley in the latter part of her career is unfair and wrong. I’ve yet to meet anyone who isn’t totally charmed by your fabulous example of “The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer”.

    I generally tend toward the noir releases when I consider 1947, but with this feature and “The Egg and I”, audiences looking for comedy truly got their money’s worth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You said it, sister! Shirley is often pooh-poohed as an older actress (as if 18 is old!!), and I don’t get why she’s disrespected. Like you pointed out, she’s absolutely delightful in this film.


  2. I love this film! Such a breezy delight with all three stars, and the supporting cast as well, working at top speed. While she’s good in Since You Went Away and winsome in Honeymoon this is without question Shirley’s best adult film and performance. She probably could have struggled along, she was still a top line star when she walked away, but for her legacy it was probably best for her to exit when she did, especially since she was so successful in her other endeavors.

    Because of its relaxed air I always found this a good film to suggest to people who don’t know too much about classic film or say all old films are boring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you – it was probably best she “retired” when she did. Look at all the interesting things she did after being a movie star! I also agree re: suggesting this to people who think B&W films are boring.


      1. No, it doesn’t. It’s just a lot of fun. And Shirley is magnificent. For my wedding, I made a ‘zine to give to the guests. It contained lots of quotes, a recipe, some in-jokes (like the ingredients from the back of a shampoo bottle…which is a thing between my hubby and a long-time friend), an excerpt from my writing (because, heck, if I was going to all of the trouble to make each one by hand, I was going to promote myself). Anyhoo, I included a quote from this movie. As you said, there are SO many great lines.


  3. It’s a predictable film, but a pleasant one and I can find no fault with the cast–to include Shirley. Although her movie star days soon ended, I always enjoyed her later TV series as a kid. In fact, I knew from that before I discovered her movies.


  4. Aha, the Man…the man with the power! I got a kick out of THE BOBBY… back in the day, and I was always glad to see got more success as a great diplomat in later years! Love your post, Ruth, my friend!


    1. Ha ha! Yes, the “man with the power” indeed! I’ve always been a fan of Shirley Temple (obviously) and, in some ways, I think her later life as a diplomat was more interesting than her life as a child star.


  5. I like this one a lot, and agree with the comments here, that Shirley did great work as an adult, and that this is such a great example of the fine comedy that came out in this crime and drama heavy year. Great one, thanks for joining us!


    1. Yes, 1947 was a fab year for noir, but it was also a pretty big year for Shirley Temple. It’s too bad her movie career ended the way it did, but she did go on to some amazing things.

      Thanks for co-hosting this blogathon. It’s making me appreciate the films of 1947 even more.


  6. I like this choice, Ruth. My appreciation of Shirley Temple has been slowly increasing lately — although I’ve always loved The Little Princess and recently fell for Bright Eyes, I haven’t seen enough of her as a teen/early adult. I’ve seen bits and pieces of this one, but now I think I’ll sit down and watch the whole thing. Thanks for this great contribution to the blogathon! 🙂


    1. Oh yes, you should take time to see this start to finish. It’s really a lot of fun – the entire cast is first rate.

      Thanks for co-hosting this blogathon. I’m starting to see 1947 in a whole new light! 🙂


  7. A fun ,light-hearted film that I really enjoyed watching. Grant and Loy handle this kind of stuff with professional ease. I am really not a fan of the young Ms. Temple. Always found her overly cute. Her older roles here and in Fort Apache are much better. That’s just me. A fun choice for the Blogathon.


    1. Yes, I like her in Fort Apache, too. She can really hold her own with the likes of Henry Fonda and John Wayne, can’t she?

      I haven’t seen all the films she made in her late teens, but Bachelor/Bobby-Soxer is my favourite. That’s because Grant and Loy also star and, like you said, they make comedy look easy.


  8. I never considered that Temple helped give street cred to Grant and Loy, but you’re so right! (Although, it’s weird to think that not everyone was gushing over those two all the time.) I love this movie, and everyone does such a fantastic job. It’s fun to see Cary Grant in such an uncomfortable situation and you get to watch him be “old”, re: barely able to move after all those competitions and trying to pick up teenager lingo. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched that “You remind me of a man” scene. Too funny.
    Great choice for the blogathon!


    1. Yes, like you said, it’s fun to see Grant in the role of an “old” man; he is so funny & charming. (I love his competition scenes with Rudy Vallee.) And the “You remind me of a man” dialogue is amazing – I’m always mesmerized by how quickly & easily the actors deliver those lines.


  9. You hit the nail on the head Silver Screenings when you talk of the chemistry between these two pros: Shirley Temple and Cary Grant. Cary Grant is a delight. He doesn’t mind being foolish and when he has to be serious, he does. ( I can’t quite remember the line he says seriously when he’s on the porch with Myrna Loy; she’s being snippy when he’s being quite sincere.) But it IS Shirley Temple who has to sell this, as the Bobbysoxer. And she does. In spades. I believe her all the way. I also like how you break it down to show that it IS Shirley who is really selling the continued viability of folks checking out Myrna Loy AND Cary Grant. The younger generation has to approve them…give them the ‘thumbs up.’ The street cred as you wrote. THAT was food for thought. I enjoyed your piece.


    1. I love that scene you mentioned, between Grant and Loy on the porch. It shows how these two pros could switch from comedy to drama and make it look so easy.

      Yes, I think it’s up to our Shirley to sell this film, and she does. I adore her in this role.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Did anything phase Temple? She was such a performer. I would’ve been terrified to star alongside Cary Grant, although it’s interesting to think that they both ‘needed’ each other by this point. Often convenience films like that end up being a flop – this is certainly one of the better ones.


    1. Ha! I think you’re right. I don’t think there was anything that really phased Shirley Temple. She tells a story in her autobiography of imitating Grant on set one day, and all the crew laughing then suddenly becoming silent. Grant had caught her in the act and was not amused. When she later apologized, he smiled and said her accent was spot on.


  11. I’ve read a lot about this movie (like in the Beyond Casablanca book, by our fellow blogger Jennifer Garlen), but never went on to actaully see it. I have no doubt it is delightful (Rudy Vallee – yay!), and you made a great point about Myrna being Shirley’s older sister rather than mother.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂


    1. Rudy Vallee is one of my all-time faves. He’s great as always in this film but, sadly, he doesn’t get as much screen time as I would like. (He has some very funny lines when he teases Cary Grant.)

      I think you should put this film on your To-Do List. It would be interesting to read your thoughts on it. 🙂


  12. I haven’t seen this one as yet, but have just added it to my list at the DVD club I belong to, so hope to put that right soon. I must confess that I haven’t actually seen any of Shirley Temple’s roles as a child star, but I did recently see her as a teenager alongside Joseph Cotten and Ginger Rogers in ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’ from 1944 and I thought she was great, stealing pretty well any scene she was in. Enjoyed this piece a lot.


    1. Shirley is great in I’ll be Seeing You, isn’t she? I really like her character in the beginning, when she’s icy and a bit hostile to Ginger Rogers. Hope you can see Bachelor/Bobby-Soxer because she is so funny here.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. This sounds like a fun movie! I would enjoy seeing Shirley Temple as an 18 year old. I’m so surprised that her career ended as early as it did. Especially since she could hold her own with such incredible actors. After reading her book, do you have any idea why, Ruth? It is wonderful she was able to go on and have such a successful life doing other things. I loved your thoughts on how she made the other actors better just by being there as a bobby soxer and therefore “endorsing their longevity.” Great post! I’m going to look for this one.


    1. This is a really fun, movie, Shari. You might get a kick out of it. As for Ms Temple, she decided to retire when it was time to renew her contract with David O Selznick (if I remember correctly). By then she had met her second husband, to whom she remained married until his death.


  14. OK, so the teenage girl is the ‘Bobby-soxer’! I knew about Bobby Socks girls in the 1950’s wore, but I never connected the word ‘Bobby Soxer’ with it.
    Cary Grants one of my favourite stars of the 1940’s. But haven’t seen this movie. And I don’t think I’ve seen Shirley Temple as an adult at all. To me she’ll always be cute little bubbly girl.
    Nice Write-up!!


    1. If you like Cary Grant then you really ought to see this one. He is at his comedic best, in my opinion. As for Shirley, if you’re used to seeing her as a child, it’s a bit of an adjustment to see her as a teenager at first. However, she is really funny and charming in this film.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Great choice Silver Screenings – I haven’t seen this one in years but it is such a classic film. These two consummate professionals along with Myrna Loy and Rudy Vallee make for a great film. Thanks for pointing out its wonderful highlights.


      1. Great!! I actually have the DVD, got it down from New Delhi, India, back in February this year, but am yet to watch it. Indian Art House movies are superb. But I do tend to like really good Bollywood commercial flicks as well, which are quite rare.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Best part, aside from reciting “I know a man…” 😄, is that poor hapless moment he endures when he thought he’d settle on at home for a nice quiet evening. LOL! The editing around its outrageous was just perfect! First grown-up Shirley movie I recall seeing before the others. She was really funny! Thanks for this!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I adore the grown-up Shirley Temple movies as much as her childhood films. She really is funny – she gives the role exactly what it needs. Plus, her scenes with Cary Grant are a real treat. I think I’ve got to see this one again myself!


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