Forty Little Mothers (1940)

88 mins | Comedy-drama | 26 April 1940

Director:

Busby Berkeley

Producer:

Harry Rapf

Cinematographer:

Charles Lawton

Editor:

Ben Lewis

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

This film was Eddie Cantor's only picture for M-G-M and Bonita Granville's first picture with the studio following her departure from Warner Bros., where she had made four popular "Nancy Drew" films in 1938 and 1939. In 1938, National Pictures released the French film on which this picture is based in the United States. The film's U.S. release title for the French film was also Forty Little Mothers. A modern source notes that actress Veronica Lake appeared in this film using the name Constance Keane . ...

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This film was Eddie Cantor's only picture for M-G-M and Bonita Granville's first picture with the studio following her departure from Warner Bros., where she had made four popular "Nancy Drew" films in 1938 and 1939. In 1938, National Pictures released the French film on which this picture is based in the United States. The film's U.S. release title for the French film was also Forty Little Mothers. A modern source notes that actress Veronica Lake appeared in this film using the name Constance Keane .

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1940
p. 3
Film Daily
19 Apr 1940
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 1939
pp. 5-6
Hollywood Reporter
27 Dec 1939
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1940
p. 6
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1940
p. 3
Motion Picture Daily
16 Apr 1940
p. 8
Motion Picture Herald
9 Mar 1940
p. 63
Motion Picture Herald
20 Apr 1940
p. 34
New York Times
19 Apr 1940
p. 25
Variety
17 Apr 1940
p. 13
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Story
Substantial contr to dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Georgie Stoll
Mus dir
SOUND
Rec dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the French film Le Mioche , screenplay by Jean Guitton (Gray-Film, 1936).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"Little Curly in a High Chair," words and music by Charles Tobias and Nat Simon.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 April 1940
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 10 Apr 1939
Production Date:
began 26 Dec 1939
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Loew's Inc.
22 April 1940
LP9605
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
88
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6130
SYNOPSIS

Twenty years after his brilliant college career, Gilbert Jordan Thompson is unable to find employment. While applying for a job as a deck hand, Gilbert sees the desperate figure of a woman about to leap from the pier. Approaching her, Gilbert learns that her name is Marian Edwards, and after convincing her to have a cup of coffee with him, he finds her a job as a waitress. Returning to the waiting room at the docks, Gilbert finds Chum, an abandoned infant with a note from his mother pleading for help. Chum is actually Marian's son, but Gilbert, unaware of this, takes the foundling home. Soon afterward, Marian returns to the docks and begins a frantic search for her missing baby. Meanwhile, the penniless Gilbert steals a bottle of milk to feed the infant, but he is apprehended for his crime and brought before Judge Joseph M. Williams. Williams, an old college chum of Gilbert, takes pity on him and arranges a job for him as a teacher at an exclusive girls' school. Informed by Madame Granville, the stern head of the school, that families are not permitted, Gilbert turns Chum's care over to Mama Lupini. Meanwhile, the girls, led by Doris, are irked because Gilbert is unattractive and overly conscientious, and try to get him fired by feigning they are in love with him. When they discover Chum, however, they are touched by the plight of the little foundling and his guardian, and delegate themselves as co-mothers. The girls' attempts at shielding Gilbert from detection fail when Madame Granville discovers Chum in his room and fires him. Just as Gilbert ...

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Twenty years after his brilliant college career, Gilbert Jordan Thompson is unable to find employment. While applying for a job as a deck hand, Gilbert sees the desperate figure of a woman about to leap from the pier. Approaching her, Gilbert learns that her name is Marian Edwards, and after convincing her to have a cup of coffee with him, he finds her a job as a waitress. Returning to the waiting room at the docks, Gilbert finds Chum, an abandoned infant with a note from his mother pleading for help. Chum is actually Marian's son, but Gilbert, unaware of this, takes the foundling home. Soon afterward, Marian returns to the docks and begins a frantic search for her missing baby. Meanwhile, the penniless Gilbert steals a bottle of milk to feed the infant, but he is apprehended for his crime and brought before Judge Joseph M. Williams. Williams, an old college chum of Gilbert, takes pity on him and arranges a job for him as a teacher at an exclusive girls' school. Informed by Madame Granville, the stern head of the school, that families are not permitted, Gilbert turns Chum's care over to Mama Lupini. Meanwhile, the girls, led by Doris, are irked because Gilbert is unattractive and overly conscientious, and try to get him fired by feigning they are in love with him. When they discover Chum, however, they are touched by the plight of the little foundling and his guardian, and delegate themselves as co-mothers. The girls' attempts at shielding Gilbert from detection fail when Madame Granville discovers Chum in his room and fires him. Just as Gilbert is about to leave the school, Marian, who has been searching for her son, appears and explains the situation to Madame Granville, who then rehires Gilbert.

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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.