Forty Little Mothers


90 min     6.25     1940     USA


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.


waltzma wrote:
Eddie Cantor goes from pop-eyed to gooey eyed. A bunch of bratty college age girls are forced to look at themselves in this overly sentimental comedy drama (with a few songs added), raising the sugar count in my system to diabetic coma level. Finding an abandoned baby in a train station, impoverished professor Eddie Cantor must hide him when he gets a job at an all-girls college. Wrongly blaming him for the firing of a teacher they all had a crush on, these girls (which includes a young Veronica Lake) attempt all sorts of schemes to expose him to school head Judith Anderson. But when they realize the truth, they change their tune and apologize. One girl proclaims, "We didn't mean to hurt you", to which the obvious response is, "Ah, yes you did." If the screeching young females (including one with an extremely annoyingly cheery southern accent) don't sound like nails down a chalkboard to you, try the coo's and laughs from Baby Quintinella as the oh so cute toddler. Cantor sings a nursery rhyme to him that won't ever be a threat to "If You Knew Susie". A far cry from his earlier Goldwyn films, this has its share of amusing moments, most notably Anderson's overly dramatic reading of a love letter and assistant Nydia Westman's fluttery reaction to its "intenseness". It's an odd film in the career of much of its cast and director Busby Berkeley, but for me, it will remain interesting for Anderson's lighter take (still wearing Mrs. Danvers long severe black dresses), one of the rare times she was able to "let loose" on film.