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The Bachelor Father (1931)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 10 January 1931 (USA)
Old man invites three of his illegitimate children to live with him.


Robert Z. Leonard (uncredited)


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Complete credited cast:
Marion Davies ... Antoinette 'Tony' Flagg
Ralph Forbes ... John Ashley
C. Aubrey Smith ... Sir Basil Algernon 'Chief' Winterton
Ray Milland ... Geoffrey Trent
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Richard 'Dick' Berney (as Guinn Williams)
David Torrence ... Dr. Frank 'Mac' MacDonald
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Julia Webb
Edgar Norton ... Bolton, the Second Butler
Nina Quartero ... Maria Credaro (as Nena Quartero)
Halliwell Hobbes ... Larkin, the Butler
Elizabeth Murray Elizabeth Murray ... Mrs. 'Aunt Molly' Berney
James Gordon ... Mr. Carson Creswell, a Lawyer


Lonely in his English country estate, Sir Basil decides to gather his grown (albeit illegitimate) children around him in his declining years. He uses a ledger which keeps track of the payments he has been making to ex-lovers to locate 2 of them, and a third is found by a lawyer in New York, her mother was too proud to accept any money. Sir Basil is a curmudgeon, and his three adult children have a hard time with him at first. Toni, the American, is a free spirit who had a budding career in show business. Jeffery is English and a semi-gentleman, and Maria is Italian, with a Latin temperament. They begin to bond, especially Sir Basil and Toni, whose outgoing personality finally wins over the old man. But past lives begin to creep back into the picture and threaten the old man's plans for a life filled with his children. Written by Ron Kerrigan

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 January 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Pai Celibatário See more »


Box Office


$502,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film received its initial television broadcast in New York City Monday 30 December 1957 on the Late, Late Show on WCBS (Channel 2); but once its pre-code theme of the acceptance of illegitimate children as accepted and prominent members of the story was discovered, it was afterwards avoided by major market sponsors. Less predominant situations welcomed it, however, and it was initially shown in San Francisco 7 June 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), in Detroit 16 June 1958 on CKLW (Channel 9), in Cleveland 20 February 1959 on KYW (Channel 3), in Salt Lake City 3 August 1959 on KTVT (Channel 4), and in Akron 5 October 1959 on WAKR (Channel 49). Today it's in the TCM MGM Library, and gets an occasional airing on Turner Classic Movies. See more »


A man steps out of a room, does some gyrations, and quickly jumps back in. See more »


Sir Basil Algernon 'Chief' Winterton: I am the first man ever to become a father by majority vote.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The French version eliminated the scene inserted to make clear all of Sir Basil's children was legitimate. See more »


Alternate-language version of Le père célibataire (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Performance by Sir C. Aubrey Smith
7 February 2000 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

A grumpy old baronet, happily unmarried, decides to send for his three grown-up illegitimate children and provide them a home at his manor. To his surprise, he finds himself bonding with his uninhibited American daughter. Can he find satisfaction in his new role as THE BACHELOR FATHER?

This 1931 film, in which he gives a robust performance, marked the arrival at MGM of elderly Sir C. Aubrey Smith, very soon to be one of Hollywood's most valuable character actors. With his great hooked nose & beetling brows, Sir Aubrey looked every inch the part of the duke or general or statesman he would play so often. The acknowledged leader of the British community in Hollywood, Sir Aubrey would also champion the game of criquet in Southern California. He would remain very much in demand in studios all over town, right up to his death in 1948.

The film's top-billed star is Marion Davies. Best remembered today as the mistress of media mogul William Randolph Hearst & the chatelaine of Hearst Castle, the most fabulous residence on the West Coast, she was actually a very talented & pretty comedienne. For a few years, Hearst attempted to make her the queen of MGM (with her own production company & a huge bungalow-dressing room) but the studio already had several other queens - Dressler, Garbo, Shearer, Crawford - and he eventually moved her to Warner Bros. Here Miss Davies gets a chance to joke & clown and her scenes with Sir Aubrey are entertaining.

Her love interest is played by Ralph Forbes, a handsome young British actor who was just starting to find good films (THE TRAIL OF ‘98) as the silent days ended. He had all the qualities for major stardom, but sadly it was not to be. Celebrity would come to Ray Milland, here making one of his first screen appearances. Halliwell Hobbes & Doris Lloyd also appear to advantage.

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