Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shirley Temple Movie Review: ****The Littlest Rebel (1935)

This movie is delightful.  I watched to colorized version.  Temple portrays Virgie Cary, whose father is a Captain of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  He tries to visit, but when their home ends up behind enemy lines it is more difficult.  He often travels home while on scouting missions.  Eventually it becomes too dangerous to travel home.  The family home is burned down in a battle, and Virgie's mother takes ill in the storm.  Their slave, Uncle Billy (Bill Robinson) comes to fetch the Captain, and he arrives home the day before his wife dies. 
He ends up being caught this time, but because of the sad story his captor decides to help him get little Virgie to family in Richmond.  He gives him a pass, and information of how to steal a uniform to get through the lines.  He agrees not to spy, and to forget everything he sees.  However they get caught.  Both the Captain, and his helper, Colonel Morrison (Jack Holt) end up in the brig, and scheduled for execution as spies.
Virgie and Uncle Billy visit President Abraham Lincoln.  They tell the story and the president is inclined to grant a pardon. 
There are some special scenes in this movie.  Uncle Billy dances for the children at a party at the beginning of the movie.  Bill Robinson is incredible.  There is another scene in which he and Temple do a duet dance.  The dance is stupendous, although they had to sort of force it into the story. 
Temple also sings.
 "Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms" she sings as a lullaby to her father.  She also sings "Polly Waddle Doodle" to her father and the Colonel, as well as a group of soldiers to end the movie. 
This movie has a lot to recommend it.  Bill Robinson (Mr. Bojangles) is always excellent as is Shirley Temple.
The next to final scene with the interaction between President Lincoln and Virgie and Uncle Billy is also a favorite.  

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