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Saturday’s Children (1940)

Saturday’s Children (1940)

“Saturday’s child has far to go” … Directed by Vincent Sherman and based on the play by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Maxwell Anderson who received an Oscar nomination for co-writing All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) this somewhat uneven comedy-drama explores married life and boasts a terrific cast. Julius (Four Daughters (1938)) & Philip Epstein wrote the screenplay.

Career bookkeeper Henry Halevy (Claude Rains) and his wife (Elisabeth Risdon) still have their two daughters living with them 22 year old Bobby (Anne Shirley) and her older sister Florrie (Lee Patrick) whose husband Willie Sands (Roscoe Karns) also lives under the same roof. Willie works for a collection agency. The film opens on a Monday morning with the always late financially unsuccessful Henry resisting getting out of bed until Bobby reminds him that today will be her first day of work at Martin’s his place of employment a mail order shipping company. He tells his daughter that he’s both excited that she’ll be starting her first job and sorry that she’ll realize her father isn’t an important man at the office at the same time. Florrie has her own advice for her sister Bobby’s first day find a husband! She scoffs at the idea of working women saying that the only reason to seek employment is to find a man to marry who will provide for them. Bobby who’s never been in love says she isn’t even thinking marrying and points to Florrie’s own (lack of) “success” in Willie who has a good sense of humor about it.

On her first day Bobby meets her new boss Mr. Norman (Berton Churchill) who says she’s gotten the job on the recommendation of her father the company’s most reliable employee. He then assigns his chatty secretary Gertrude (Dennie Moore) to “show her the ropes”. Gert’s boyfriend is Herbie Smith (George Tobias). Rims Rosson (John Garfield) an amateur inventor (of things which are practically infeasible) who also works at Martin’s literally bumps into Bobby on his way to and from Mr. Norman’s office. Though normally oblivious to others around him he takes note of Bobby when she helps her father provide aid to a man who is injured in an elevator accident. Rims further gets to know Bobby when he helps her to reconcile some orders with their invoices because he speaks and reads Spanish. Later Gert & Herbie convince Bobby & Rims to go bowling with them which becomes a regular Monday night date for the two especially when Rims realizes how uniquely honest Bobby is relative to other women he’s met. However when Rims gets an opportunity to finally test one of his invention theories making silk out of hemp in the Philippines Bobby takes her scheming sister Florrie’s advice to manipulate him into marrying her.

Once married the young couple’s struggles begin. However they truly love each other so they vow to celebrate all their misfortunes instead of being taken under by them. Because of the war beginning in Europe Mr. Norman must let go the wives (of men working for the company) go until business picks up again. Though Rims and Bobby had planned to add on to their “above a garage” (worse then next to the train tracks?) apartment they must cancel these plans. Tom Dugan and John Qualen appear briefly as the carpenters the couple has to fire. While at home one day Bobby gets the mail and opens a letter addressed to her husband from Manila which states that the job is still available for him there though they cannot provide him with the salary increase required to bring his wife. That same day Bobby learns that she is pregnant so she tears up and discards the letter. When Bobby arrives at their apartment she sees Rims sitting outside daydreaming. He informs her that it’s time to celebrate again he’s been given a 10% decrease in salary and should probably expect another 10% decrease soon given the tough times. She decides not to tell him about her condition.

At this point the film takes several dramatic turns. There is some comedy involving Willie and Rims but most of the rest of the story is more serious in nature and involves Bobby “coming clean” to Rims about “hooking him” his reaction and decision and her father’s desperate attempt to provide at least one success in his legacy for his youngest daughter.

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