Bachelor Mother (1939) is an American comedy film directed by Garson Kanin, and starring Ginger Rogers (in a mostly non-dancing and non-singing role), David Niven, and Charles Coburn. The screenplay was written by Norman Krasna based on a Academy Award nominated story by Felix Jackson (aka Felix Joachimson). With a plot full of mistaken identities, Bachelor Mother is a light-hearted treatment of the otherwise serious issues of child abandonment.
It was remade in 1956 as Bundle of Joy, starring Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.
Polly Parrish (Ginger Rogers) is a salesgirl at the department store John B. Merlin and Son in New York City who has just been told that since the Christmas season is ending she is going to be dismissed. During her lunch break, she sees a stranger leaving a baby on the steps of an orphanage. Fearing the baby is going to roll down the steps, Polly picks it up as the door is opened, and is mistakenly thought to be the mother.
David Merlin (David Niven), the playboy son of the store's owner, J.B. Merlin (Charles Coburn), is sympathetic to the "unwed mother" and arranges for her to get her job back. Mrs. Weiss (Ferike Boros), Polly's landlady, offers to take care of the boy when Polly is at work. Unable to convince anyone that she is not the mother, Polly gives up and starts raising the child.
David's involvement with Polly gradually turns into love, but he keeps the relationship a secret from his father, fearing his reaction. When he finds that New Year's Eve has arrived and he has no date, David turns to Polly. He orders clothes to be sent from the store and takes her to a party. Although David is falling for Polly he does not relish the idea of a "ready made family."
J.B. finally finds out about the child; he assumes that David is the father and no one can convince him otherwise, especially when, in a bit of bad timing, Polly and David each produce a different man whom they claim is the father. To his son's surprise, J.B. is delighted (he had been impatiently waiting for David to settle down and provide him with a grandson). In the end, David decides that he is in love with Polly and baby John. He tells his father that he is the father of the child and plans to marry Polly, all the while believing Polly is the child's mother.
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