An out-of-work professor gets a break from an old college buddy to teach at an exclusive girl's school. But events conspire against him: he finds an abandoned child which he takes under his... See full summary »
An out-of-work professor gets a break from an old college buddy to teach at an exclusive girl's school. But events conspire against him: he finds an abandoned child which he takes under his wing, despite the school's rules against teachers having a family; and the girls in the school resent his replacing a handsome and popular teacher, and do everything in their power to get him fired. Written by
Gary Dickerson <email@example.com>
Gilbert Jordan Thompson:
Now wait a minute girls, you know motherhood is not a government project - at least not in this country.
[a thinly-veiled reference to Nazi Germany in this 1940 film]
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Forty Little Mothers Has Eddie Cantor first saving Rita Johnson from committing suicide and then taking her baby when he mistakenly thinks someone abandoned it. It was a boy baby and that was a new experience for the man who founded Girls Town, USA.
This is a more dramatic Eddie than was previously seen on screen. He's a meek and gentle history professor, not the schnook he was normally cast as. He's replaced a heartthrob history professor at the college which insists on its faculty boarding at the school and they don't allow kids there. So says President Judith Anderson.
Cantor was cast with a whole bunch of young MGM starlets as the students and was reunited with Busby Berkeley who directs this film. He had done the musical numbers on several Cantor films for Sam Goldwyn earlier in the decade. Cantor only sings one song in the film, Little Curly Hair in a High Chair which had good success.
The woman have some Berkeley like moments serving as the baby's forty little mothers once the ice is broken with Cantor. But no real dance numbers as Berkeley was so well known for.
Look for Nydia Westman who plays Judith Anderson's assistant. She's quite funny, maybe the best thing in this film.
The story is nice though it does get a bit maudlin at times. Probably Eddie Cantor had he gotten something like Ed Wynn got later on in The Great Man or The Diary of Anne Frank, Cantor might have made his bones as a dramatic actor.
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