The Christmas rush is in full swing at Merlin and Son department store. (Merlin is Adolphe Menjou, “son” is Eddie Fisher.) Polly Parrish (Debbie Reynolds) works in the hat department and can’t wait for the rush to be over, because she’s expecting a raise at the end of it. She’s done quite well as a salesperson — placed many a hat on many a head. Twenty-three in one day!
Polly’s dreams are crushed when instead of giving her more money, her bosses decide to fire her. Heartbroken, she makes her way to the employment office, where her disappointment doubles: they have nothing for her.
Next to the unemployment office is an orphanage, and Polly notices a baby on the stoop, so she picks him up. Bad move on her part, as this further complicates her life when Mr. Appleby (Howard McNear), the manager, assumes she is the baby’s mother! Not buying her explanation that she found the baby, he goes to great measures to convince her to keep the child.
Bundle of Joy (1956) is a remake of the 1939 Ginger Rogers film Bachelor Mother, music added to suit the talents of America’s then-favorite couple, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Reynolds was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role of Polly. The film was directed by Norman Taurog and aired on TCM a few days ago as one of their “Christmas Classics” for December.
I’m always a bit skeptical of a remake, but I’m a fan of Debbie Reynolds and typically enjoy her films for her performances at the very least. Many of her films are sweet and delightful, and with TCM pegging this as a “Christmas classic,” I had high hopes that I would enjoy it.
While I didn’t love it quite as much as Bachelor Mother, Bundle of Joy is a fine time-passer. It tells a bit of a fluffier version of the story, a typically airy ’50s romance. It has little to do with Christmas aside from the fact that it’s set during the Christmas season, but its light mood and romantic comedy make it a suitable watch for mid to late December.
As a bonus, there are a few lovely Christmas decorations on display — an adorable little tree in Polly’s apartment, and several festive wreaths — and a bright color palette that could only come from the midcentury. Plus, Debbie’s costumes — stunning! Visually, there’s a lot to love.
Eddie Fisher made only a few films, and this one marked the only time that he shared the screen with wife Debbie Reynolds. (The two would soon divorce, Eddie famously leaving Debbie for Elizabeth Taylor.) He doesn’t have the strongest screen presence, so it’s no mystery why the roles didn’t start pouring in for him, but his contributions to the film’s soundtrack are nice.
Unlike the past three days in Eight Days of Christmas, today’s film isn’t one heavy with sentiment, morals, or belief. Still, it’s a decent Christmas-ish flick, worth watching in particular for fans of Debbie Reynolds.