Saturday, May 1, 2010

It Still Hasn’t ‘Cracked Up’

The first big film created especially for her, Bright Eyes helped make Shirley Temple a huge box office star and features her most famous song: "On the Good Ship Lollipop."

The little darling of a group of aviators, Shirley splits her time between her pilot godfather Loop (James Dunn) and her long-suffering mother (Lois Wilson), housemaid for a selfish, wealthy family. When a tragic accident leaves Shirley orphaned, Loop sets out adopt Shirley- until he learns he's not the only one determined to keep the adorable youngster.

Title: Bright Eyes
Release: December 28, 1934
Genre: Family- Drama
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: William M. Conselman (screenplay), David Butler, & Edwin J. Burke (story)
Director: David Butler
Music By: Richard A. Whiting
Produced By: Sol M. Wurtzel
Distributed By: Fox Film
Run Time: 83 minutes

In Bright Eyes, Shirley Temple plays a charming little orphan girl named Shirley Blake whom just about everyone adores. This wasn’t the first nor certainly not the last where she plays an orphan either. It’s quite a common plot device for some of Temple’s films but they’re all unique in their own right. James 'Jimmy' Dunn once again plays opposite of little Shirley for the third and final time in Bright Eyes. Their previous two films together were Baby Take a Bow & Stand Up and Cheer but this one is by far their best. Temple’s trademark song On the Good Ship Lollipop (which actually takes place on a grounded plane) was first performed during this picture too.

Written mainly as a vehicle for Temple's rising status, Bright Eyes had an incredible cast of supporting actors and actresses too. Dunn, who plays the aviator Loop Merritt, has a real dynamic with Shirley in this picture that was missing from their previous encounters onscreen and the old curmudgeon Uncle Ned Smith (Charles Sellon) was simply delightful as well. Jane Withers nonetheless shines as the resident 'mean girl' (more like little monster… and her parents aren‘t too much better either) Joy Smythe in the film. She kept the film from being saccharinely sweet while at the same time making her co-stars look better (or at least better behaved!).

As a matter of fact, Bright Eyes was Withers’ breakout role and though she never starred in (or in this case, alongside) a big budget picture again, she still had an incredibly successful career in lower budgeted films. Someone else was recognized in this film as well and went on to become a bit of an icon and that was the dog Rags. She is better known as Toto from MGM's Wizard of Oz but this is where the little dog got her start in film!

Besides good actors and a hit song that was listed on AFI’s 100 Years 100 Songs, Shirley Temple was awarded a miniature Academy Award (the first received by a child actor) in 1935 partly for her role in this film. Her crying scene after she finds out her mother has “cracked-up” (died) alone could be credited for that honor. By the time this film was released, Temple was a household name and everyone flocked to see this and that is the main reason Bright Eyes is still known today however, it’s still a great watch for the adorableness of Shirley.

Featured Songs
On the Good Ship Lollipop - Shirley Temple
The Man on the Flying Trapeze - Charles Sellon

Links
Imdb.com
Wikipedia
Official Shirley Temple Site


Related Reviews
Temple’s Baby Burlesk Shorts, Stand Up and Cheer, Little Miss Marker, & Baby Take a Bow



16 comments:

  1. I've missed you, so I'm glad to see you back on here! Can you believe I've never seen a Shirley Temple movie?

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  2. Bermudaonion: I've missed hearing from you! Thanks for the warm welcome back :)
    In regards to Shirley Temple, I believe I've only seen a handful of her movies before but The Little Princess was the first (and best) one I ever watched. I've been trying to read her autobiography since I was 10 and I'm only now making progress through it by watching her movies at the same time.

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  3. Hey!

    Haven't heard from you in a while.

    I've not seen many of Shirley Temple's movies - she's not that famous here - lol.

    AG

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  4. I grew up singing On the Good Ship Lollipop, but never knew where it came from until now!

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  5. I've seen most of her movies, and enjoyed them all. This one, Captain January, Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm, Bright Eyes, and Poor Little Rich Girl are my favorites.

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  6. AnimeGirl: Yeah, I took a bit of a vacation for awhile. Glad to be back! Wow, I thought she was still famous the world over. She was such an adorable little thing :)

    Wendy: Me too! I think I heard the Mae Questel (Betty Boop) version as a kid and it made quite an impression because that's what I hear when I think of that song.

    Princess Weena: I'll be watching and reviewing most of those for the first time soon!

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  7. This one sounds nice, I havent seen it. I used to love watching Shirley Temple films when I was little.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  8. I haven't watched a Shirley Temple movie in a long time. This sounds like a good one.

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  9. Have you ever seen the Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer? Shirley is older and still totally adorable.

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  10. We watched this last year with our kids, and it was fun to see how much they enjoyed it.

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  11. Naida: If you get a chance you should watch this. I really liked Shirley in it.

    Serena: You should definitely watch one soon. I just adore her movies!

    Juju at Tales of Whimsy: No I haven't yet. I'm going to try to watch all of her films in chronological order though.

    Darla D: I loved watching old black and white movies as a kid too :)

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  12. I'm glad to see you back! It's funny. My daughter loves to drink Shirley Temples but has no idea who she is.

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  13. What a great review. This is a show I have never seen but think I amy be missing out..

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  14. Sounds cute! I've never seen a Shirley Temple movie. It may be time to make that happen...

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  15. CarolsNotebook: I've been craving a Shirley Temple lately... make sure you introduce her to the wonderful Shirley while she's still young to love her when she's older :)

    Juju: Thanks!

    Sheila: It was a cute movie.

    Kate Diamond: She has so many great ones. I hope you do!

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