I'm thrilled to have Mad as my guest, so without further ado...I'll turn things over to her.
At work, Bobby meets fellow employee Rims Rosson (Garfield), whose hobby is inventing crazy gadgets that he admits are not ‘commercially practical’. He does have one practical dream - to discover a way to manufacture silk from hemp. It’s obvious from the start that Rims and Bobby share the same wry sense of humour and directness, and they begin dating as part of a weekly bowling night. When Rims gets a job offer in the Philippines to work on his hemp-to-silk idea, Florrie convinces Bobby that she’ll lose him unless she takes certain ‘foolproof steps’ to get him to propose. Further complications ensue for the young couple, with some dramatic turns that I would rather leave viewers to discover for themselves.
Garfield is well matched by Anne Shirley as Bobby – torn between a selfish (but normal) desire to keep Rims with her, and a feeling of guilt that she is preventing him from pursuing his dreams. She’s not only cute and likeable, but I was impressed with her as an actress in this movie – she often gets to be the ‘strong one’ for those around her. (I’ve read that Warners originally wanted Priscilla Lane, but fearing it would be rewritten as another ‘Lane Sisters’ movie, Garfield lobbied for Anne Shirley.)
This movie is a romantic comedy with an intelligent storyline. What I love about these old Warner Brothers pictures is that they show average people struggling to get by, and still managing to find happiness. Not being rich isn’t seen as a tragedy to be ‘solved’ in the last reel. The characters cope in the best way they can, without a lot of self-pity and in ways that ring true. The title refers to the poem predicting the traits of children according to the day of the week on which they were born, in which “Saturday’s child has far to go”. (The usual version is “… works hard for a living” but the spirit is the same.) Money troubles may be the catalyst, but the couple’s problems are really about honesty and compromise in love and marriage. Their story isn’t maudlin or sappy; their joys and pains are those we can relate to, and we laugh with them as if it were our own family. A quality script has a lot to do with this, but ultimately it’s Garfield and Shirley that bring these characters to life and make us care.
I have read that Saturday’s Children was one of Garfield’s happiest film experiences, and a performance of which he was very proud. I can see why – it’s sweet, it’s funny, and it gave him a chance to show his versatility as an actor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a success at the box-office, which may be why it’s not well known today. It does not seem to be available on DVD, but if you have access to TCM in North America, you can catch it on March 4th at 8:45 am (ET), and I heartily recommend that you do. It deserves to be re-discovered.
Saturday's Children does, indeed, sound like a terrific movie, and I cannot wait to see it. A huge thank you to Mad for this awesome write-up! What a fantastic addition to the blogathon! To read all the other terrific blogathon pieces, go HERE.
NOTE: After finally having a chance to watch this film, I am giving it 4-stars.