Father Is A Bachelor marked the end of what William Holden termed his 'Smiling Jim' roles. His next film would be for Paramount and would be Sunset Boulevard which forever changed his screen image. This film was done for his other studio master, Columbia.
When it was decided that Columbia would have next call on his services for Father Is A Bachelor, Holden must have brought over the script from Paramount because if there ever was a Bing Crosby picture that Bing didn't do, this was it. This actually might have been a classic had Crosby done this over at Paramount.
Bill Holden for the one and only time in a film sang although not with his voice. The voice of Buddy Clark who was one of the great radio singers back in the day and rival of Bing Crosby was the voice that Holden used. Holden/Clark sang about eight numbers all public domain stuff. Had it been done at Paramount Burke-Van Heusen or Livingston- Evans would have done an original score for Crosby.
Buddy Clark was heard posthumously coming out of Bill Holden's mouth. He was killed in a private plane crash in the fall of 1949. Clark was also the singing voice of Jack Haley in Wake Up And Live and he had one of the most pleasant voices to listen to ever.
The story has Holden singing in black-face the opening number in a medicine show run by Charles Winninger. One of the crowd recognizes Winninger as a guy who bilked a few customers a time or two before. Though the black-face is demeaning to black people it actually serves a purpose in the plot because after Holden has wiped off the burnt cork, no one recognizes him and he's free while Winninger is in the slam.
But he doesn't stay free for long because the free and easy Holden gets involved with a family of five orphans who are trying to stay together and avoid an orphanage or being divided up with several families.
Coleen Gray is Holden's love interest in this film, she's the daughter of Lloyd Corrigan the judge who Winninger is before. Stu Erwin is the sheriff and the orphans are Gary Gray, Billy Gray, Wayne Farlow, Warren Farlow, and Mary Jane Saunders. Sig Ruman has a nice part as the owner of a beer garden who employs Holden as a singing waiter.
The biggest crisis in the film comes from the closest thing to a villain in the piece, sleazy lawyer Clinton Sundberg. He finds out that Holden is really no kin to those kids and he offers him a choice, marry one of old maid sisters either Peggy Converse or Lillian Bronson, either one doesn't make any difference to him. It's quite a pickle Holden's got himself in.
Father Is A Bachelor is a nice family entertainment film, but it was also the kind of film Holden was trying to get out of doing and succeeded magnificently in his next work. Besides though Holden was good, he certainly was poaching on the territory of Der Bingle.
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