Bundle of Joy (1956)

98 or 100 mins | Musical comedy | December 1956

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HISTORY

Bundle of Joy was a remake of the 1939 RKO film Bachelor Mother , directed by Garson Kanin and starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ). Norman Krasna, who wrote the screenplay for Bachelor Mother , and Felix Jackson, who wrote the story, are credited on Bundle of Joy along with screenwriters Robert Carson and Arthur Sheekman. According to a May 1954 DV news item, George Jessel planned to remake Bachelor Mother at RKO that year with Betty Hutton as the star. Although a 21 Feb 1956 HR article states that the film would be an "Edmund Grainger independent production in conjunction with RKO," Grainger's production company is not listed in the onscreen credits.
       RKO borrowed Debbie Reynolds from M-G-M for Bundle of Joy , which marked her only onscreen teaming with then-husband Eddie Fisher. Although Fisher had acted in a small role in the 1950 film All About Eve (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ), his role was cut from that film, making Bundle of Joy his motion picture debut. Reynolds was pregnant during production and gave birth to daughter Carrie in Oct 1956, two months before the film's premiere. Despite the studio's attempt to link the Fishers to the happy family in the film, Reynolds noted in her autobiography that the marriage was already failing. The sequence in the film in which “Dan Merlin” outfits “Polly Parrish” in finery is rendered in silence, with only a background score.
       According to a 7 Mar 1961 DV ... More Less

Bundle of Joy was a remake of the 1939 RKO film Bachelor Mother , directed by Garson Kanin and starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ). Norman Krasna, who wrote the screenplay for Bachelor Mother , and Felix Jackson, who wrote the story, are credited on Bundle of Joy along with screenwriters Robert Carson and Arthur Sheekman. According to a May 1954 DV news item, George Jessel planned to remake Bachelor Mother at RKO that year with Betty Hutton as the star. Although a 21 Feb 1956 HR article states that the film would be an "Edmund Grainger independent production in conjunction with RKO," Grainger's production company is not listed in the onscreen credits.
       RKO borrowed Debbie Reynolds from M-G-M for Bundle of Joy , which marked her only onscreen teaming with then-husband Eddie Fisher. Although Fisher had acted in a small role in the 1950 film All About Eve (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ), his role was cut from that film, making Bundle of Joy his motion picture debut. Reynolds was pregnant during production and gave birth to daughter Carrie in Oct 1956, two months before the film's premiere. Despite the studio's attempt to link the Fishers to the happy family in the film, Reynolds noted in her autobiography that the marriage was already failing. The sequence in the film in which “Dan Merlin” outfits “Polly Parrish” in finery is rendered in silence, with only a background score.
       According to a 7 Mar 1961 DV article, RKO was sued by Ramrod Productions, Inc., which held a ten-year contract with Fisher. Ramrod sought a restraining order against any further television screenings of Bundle of Joy , in addition to damages of $1,400,000. The disposition of the suit has not been determined. Reynolds received a 1956 Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, Musical or Comedy for her role in the film. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Dec 1956.
---
Daily Variety
25 May 1954.
---
Daily Variety
12 Dec 56
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1961
p. 1, 4.
Film Daily
12 Dec 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jun 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1956
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 56
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1957
p. 3.
Los Angeles Mirror
30 Aug 1956.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Dec 1956
Part 1, p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Dec 56
p. 186.
New York Times
20 Dec 56
p. 36.
Variety
12 Dec 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns des
MUSIC
Songs for Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds arr and
Background score adpt and cond
DANCE
Mus numbers and dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
SOURCES
SONGS
"Bundle of Joy," "All About Love," "Some Day Soon," "I Never Felt This Way Before," "Worry About Tomorrow" and "Lullaby in Blue," music by Josef Myrow, lyrics by Mack Gordon.
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 19 December 1956
Los Angeles opening: 21 December 1956
Production Date:
early June--early August 1956
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Teleradio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
19 December 1956
Copyright Number:
LP7509
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
98 or 100
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18147
SYNOPSIS

Just before Christmas at the Merlin and Son department store, millinery saleslady Polly Parrish expects a raise in honor of her high sales record. Instead, however, her bosses, Mr. Creely and Mr. Hargraves, plan to fire her for her overzealous selling techniques, which result in numerous returns. Meanwhile, store owner John B. Merlin sees to every detail of the store’s administration, and worries that his son Dan will resent giving up his interest in music in order to join his father in business. After assuring his father that he is happy to run the store, Dan secretly sings in the employee lounge. After Polly turns down supply clerk Freddie Miller’s invitation to a dance contest that night, she is called into Merlin’s office and fired. Shocked and upset, Polly is forced to accept Freddie’s invitation in order to compete for the $100 prize money. On her lunch break she searches for a new job, but finds none. Next to the employment office is an orphanage, outside which Polly spots a baby and picks him up. Orphanage manager Mr. Appleby immediately assumes she is the mother, and attempts to convince her to keep the child, but Polly flees. Appleby discovers her work address, however, and goes there to urge Dan to re-hire Polly so she can afford to care for her child. Dan calls Polly in and announces that she is getting a raise and a gift that will be delivered to her that night. Confused, Polly goes home to find Mr. Appleby and the baby, and although she tries to return the child, Appleby refuses to take him back. Freddie then arrives to pick Polly up for the dance, ... +


Just before Christmas at the Merlin and Son department store, millinery saleslady Polly Parrish expects a raise in honor of her high sales record. Instead, however, her bosses, Mr. Creely and Mr. Hargraves, plan to fire her for her overzealous selling techniques, which result in numerous returns. Meanwhile, store owner John B. Merlin sees to every detail of the store’s administration, and worries that his son Dan will resent giving up his interest in music in order to join his father in business. After assuring his father that he is happy to run the store, Dan secretly sings in the employee lounge. After Polly turns down supply clerk Freddie Miller’s invitation to a dance contest that night, she is called into Merlin’s office and fired. Shocked and upset, Polly is forced to accept Freddie’s invitation in order to compete for the $100 prize money. On her lunch break she searches for a new job, but finds none. Next to the employment office is an orphanage, outside which Polly spots a baby and picks him up. Orphanage manager Mr. Appleby immediately assumes she is the mother, and attempts to convince her to keep the child, but Polly flees. Appleby discovers her work address, however, and goes there to urge Dan to re-hire Polly so she can afford to care for her child. Dan calls Polly in and announces that she is getting a raise and a gift that will be delivered to her that night. Confused, Polly goes home to find Mr. Appleby and the baby, and although she tries to return the child, Appleby refuses to take him back. Freddie then arrives to pick Polly up for the dance, and upon seeing the baby, assumes with glee that Polly’s morals are more lax than she has previously indicated. When they see the Merlins on television receiving an award, Polly decides to drop off the baby at their house. She leaves the child with Adams, the Merlins’ butler, and when Dan learns of the ruse, he jumps into his car and follows Polly and Freddie to the dance contest. There, Dan is forced to take a partner on the floor in order to talk to Polly, but is disqualified before he can reach her. Freddie and Polly, to their disappointment, win a trophy instead of cash, and later, Polly finds Dan waiting in her apartment with the baby. Furious and disbelieving of her story that she found the baby, Dan fires Polly again. To gain his sympathy, she lies that her husband beat her and she cannot afford to keep the child, prompting Dan to once again offer her a raise. After he leaves, Polly’s landlady, Mrs. Dugan, helps her to care for the baby. When Polly, who knows so little about children that she thinks the baby is a girl, names him Jean, Mrs. Dugan agrees that “John” is a good name. At work the next day, Polly is exhausted, but is pleased by Dan’s continuing attention. Freddie, who assumes that Dan is the baby’s father, urges Polly to “put in a good word” for him, and when he is coincidentally promoted soon after, believes she influenced Dan. Later, Dan visits Polly with gifts for John, and clumsily helps her sing the baby to sleep. On New Year’s Eve, Polly is content to stay home with John, whom she has grown to love. However, Dan, whose date has cancelled on him for not calling her sooner, shows up at her door and announces that Mrs. Dugan will baby-sit while they attend a dance. Because Polly has no appropriate clothes, Dan brings her to the store and outfits her in sequins and furs. Her beauty stuns the other men at the dance, who monopolize her all evening, despite Dan’s pretense that she is Swedish and knows no English. Just before midnight, Dan insists that they leave, and they are swept into the raucous revelry in the city streets. They are separated in the crowd but meet back at Polly’s apartment, where Dan fires her in order to kiss her without breaking company rules. After a passionate embrace, he re-hires her. The next day, Polly is forced to turn down Dan’s offer of a date because she has no one to watch John, and although she fears that he is losing interest, in reality he is arranging for her to receive another raise so she can hire a sitter. Meanwhile, Freddie is demoted for his incompetence, and extracts revenge by sending a note to Merlin stating that Dan has a son. Merlin receives the note while Dan and Polly are meeting in the park, and pursues them there. When Merlin sees John, he is overjoyed, and orders Dan to marry Polly and move the boy onto their estate. Dan tries to explain that he is not the father but Merlin, desperate for a grandchild, declares that he will get John one way or another. Dan races to Polly’s to warn her that his father is summoning his lawyers, and Polly, who is determined to keep John, feels insulted by Dan’s insistence that he will not allow his father to force him to marry her. She throws Dan out, then persuades Mrs. Dugan’s college-aged nephew, Mike Clancy, to pose as her long-lost husband. She brings Mike to Merlin’s, where the old man sadly accepts her tale that the child is theirs. Just then, however, Dan, who has had the same idea, brings in Freddie, claiming that he is the baby’s father. Assuming that Mike is Polly’s abusive ex-husband, Dan punches the young man, and in the ensuing chaos Polly runs home. She is packing her bags when Dan bursts in. Polly declares that she is leaving with the baby, but Dan declares that he is John’s new father, and Polly realizes that he trying to propose. Together, they admire their “bundle of joy.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.