Tag Archives: 1957

Nielsen Ratings: Tammy And The Bachelor (1957) Review

Launching a franchise based on the novels of Cid Ricketts Sumner, “Tammy And The Bachelor” (also known as just “Tammy”) is first and foremost a vehicle for the undeniable charms of Debbie Reynolds. Nielsen, though, plays the titular bachelor and romantic interest for homespun country girl Tammy as she takes her first wide-eyed steps into the great big world outside of her grandfather’s swamp-based houseboat.

When Pete (Leslie Nielsen) crashes his plane into the swap, he’s rescued by Tammy (Reynolds) and her grandfather (Walter Brennan). Tammy’s a simple country girl, raised by her lay preacher/ moonshine brewer Grandfather and is happy to nurse Pete back to health. But after Pete has returned to his home and fiancée, Grampa is sent to jail after being caught brewing hooch and so Tammy is sent to Pete’s family home. There, her innocent and upbeat personality start to have the most unexpected effect on Pete’s family and friends.

Corny, schmaltzy and formulaic as all get out, “Tammy And The Bachelor” takes a down-home spin on “Pygmalion” and forges a path which romances and romantic comedies would follow for decades after, from “My Fair Lady” to “Pretty Woman” and beyond. It’s almost diabetic coma-inducingly sweet and, of course, as a Debbie Reynolds picture it features a musical number, oddly incongruous because of its singular nature in an otherwise non-musical film.

While Reynolds covers the cuteness factor from all angles, Nielsen provides a solid if unremarkable leading man. There’s a real vagueness over his age, too, as he might be some kind of student working on a plan to create a new variety of tomatoes but he’s also under pressure to join his uncle’s advertising business. Meanwhile, his parents are stuck in unfulfilling ruts (Mrs Brent, Pete’s mother is played by pioneering scream queen Fay Wray) and his best friend chases anything in a skirt, inevitably setting his sights on Tammy.

It’s a movie that has all the triumphs and follies of its era, so there’s a whiff of casual institutional racism, quite a bit of misogyny and a whole lot of peculiarly 1950s American attitudes on display. At its core, though, it’s an adorably gentle old-fashioned romance and while Reynolds and Nielsen make an appealing – if somewhat square – couple, neither of them would return for future “Tammy” movies. Nielsen’s Pete would be written out to make room for a new love interest and a new romance in the next movie and the role of Tammy would go to Sandra Dee – the same Sandra Dee who would in eventually be immortalised for a generation of cinemagoers in song by Stockard Channing in “Grease”.

Nielsen Rating 6/10