End Credits #13: Cinema's 2014 Lost Treasures Shirley Temple
I am honored to introduce for his first post here, guest blogger Bob DiMucci:
When I was growing up, one of our local television stations had a Saturday morning show called "Shirley Temple Theater," in which they had Temple's films on a regular rotation. I saw many of her most popular films as part of that series. In the 50 years since, however, I've probably revisited only one or two of those films. Yet I still have vivid memories of many scenes from them.
The Films of Shirley Temple
Shirley Temple began her film career when she was 3 years old working for Educational Pictures, a producer of shorts. Her first feature film appearance was in 1932's RED-HAIRED ALIBI. Temple was not the star of the film, as the modern DVD cover below suggests, but was instead tenth-billed. She received $50 for two days work on the film, which was produced by Tower Productions.
In her first major studio film, Temple moved up a notch to ninth billing as "Child" in Universal's OUT ALL NIGHT (1933). She was officially billed as Shirley Jane Temple, a name she used occasionally.
Temple next appeared in the 1933 Paramount production TO THE LAST MAN, a Zane Grey western directed by western expert Henry Hathaway. It's been claimed that Hathaway recognized Shirley Temple's talent during the production and recommended that Paramount sign her to a contract, but Paramount released her after the film.
1934 was a big year for 6-year-old Shirley Temple. She was put under contract by Fox, the studio for which she would make her most famous films. She would appear in a staggering 10 films in 1934, which would see her go from a bit player who was 25th billed at the beginning of the year to the lead role in her own films by year's end.
The first of her 1934 films was the 2 February release of CAROLINA, her first film for Fox, albeit as a freelancer. Temple was 18th billed, in a film directed by Henry King.
A week later, on 10 February came MANDALAY, a Warner Bros. film that Temple did because she was still not under contract to any studio. She was 17th billed.
On 16 March, Temple appeared onscreen in GEORGE WHITE'S SCANDALS, her first musical. She played "Daughter of Scandal Girl." Even at her young age, Temple was no stranger to musicals. She had been a member of The Meglin Kiddies, a well-known troupe of acting, music and dance performers, consisting of children up to the age of 16. The troupe was started by Ethel Meglin in 1928. Meglin was a Ziegfeld girl in feature films. Temple had originally been recruited from the Meglin Kiddies to appear in her first short films.
In "SCANDALS", Temple is included in the number "Following in Mother's Footsteps," which chronicles the future careers of former "Scandal Girls'" daughters.
After seeing Temple in a "Frolics of Youth" short entitled Pardon My Pups, songwriter Jay Gorney requested that she audition for STAND UP AND CHEER! In her autobiography, Temple noted that producer Winfield Sheehan gave her a contract with Fox on the second day of filming her "Baby Take a Bow" number in the picture.
Shirley got her first poster credit on STAND UP AND CHEER!, which was released on May 4, 1934. She is billed seventh on the poster. Although Temple is listed third in the film's opening onscreen cast credits, she is listed seventh in the ending credits.
In an interview many years later, Jane Withers revealed that she was asked by Fox to read for a part in STAND UP AND CHEER!, but after her audition, "in walked the most beautiful child I had ever seen--Shirley Temple. My heart sank to my toes. I knew she'd get the part, and I was right." Reviewers praised Temple's performance, and the Variety reviewer referred to her as a "sure-fire potential kidlet star" and "the unofficial star" of the picture.
A week later, Temple was onscreen again, in an early Spencer Tracy drama called NOW I'LL TELL. In the film, released on 11 May 1934, Tracy played a character based on the gambler Arnold Rothstein. Shirley Temple was billed 8th.
Another week, and Temple appears in another picture. On 18 May 1934, Fox released a romance called CHANGE OF HEART, the twelth and final picture of popular love team Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Temple is billed 12th.
On June 1, 1934, Shirley Temple gets her big break, when she plays the title role in LITTLE MISS MARKER. Amazingly, though, it is not in a Fox film. Paramount borrowed Temple from Fox for the film, which was the first filming of the Damon Runyon story of a Broadway bookie, Sorrowful Jones, who accepts a little girl as a "marker," or I.O.U., for her father's twenty-dollar bet on a horse. (The story would be filmed three more times.) Temple is billed 4th.
Three weeks later, Fox had Shirley Temple back onscreen again, this time headlining a picture for them. It was BABY TAKE A BOW, which opened on 22 June 1934. Although the film was based on a 1926 play called Square Crooks, it was probably not a coincidence that Fox titled the film after the song that Temple had performed in STAND UP AND CHEER!--the song which just 6 weeks earlier had first brought Temple to the public's attention, and resulted in her contract with Fox.
On 22 August 1934, the second picture resulting from Shirley's loan-out to Paramount opened. It was NOW AND FOREVER, in which she co-starred opposite Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard. The film was directed by Henry Hathaway, for which Temple had made her first Paramount film.
Cooper and Lombard played a a pair of vagabond thieves in the film, and, according to Daily Variety, Temple's home studio of Fox received many letters from fans and women's organizations protesting the presentation of Shirley Temple in films in which she is "mixed up with crooks," such as this picture, LITTLE MISS MARKER, and BABY, TAKE A BOW.
Shirley's 1934 came to a dramatic conclusion with the Christmastime release of her most popular film to date--BRIGHT EYES. This was the film in which Temple sang "On the Good Ship Lollipop." The song eventually sold 500,000 sheet music copies.
Early in 1934, writers Gene Towne and Graham Baker, who had been loaned to Fox by Twentieth Century Pictures, were approached by Fox studio official Colonel Jason Joy, who said that the studio was badly in need of a story for Shirley Temple. It was announced that Temple would appear in no other films with "gangster backgrounds," in response to the demand for "clean pictures." Because of "good fan reception" to the team of James Dunn, Shirley Temple and Claire Trevor, who starred together in BABY, TAKE A BOW, Fox cast them again in this film; however, Trevor was pulled from the film when she was cast in a bigger role in another picture.
The film also created another star. This was eight-year-old Jane Withers' first large role in a film. Critics praised her performance, and the New York Times noted, "There were those among the critical gentry who came right out and said that her performance topped that of little Shirley." Withers went on to star in her own films for Fox, and although her starring roles were in "B" pictures, she became the number two child star in terms of box office receipts, and in 1937 and 1938 placed in the top ten in the Motion Picture Herald survey of top money-making stars.
On 22 February 1935, THE LITTLE COLONEL was released. The final sequence of the film, the celebration, was shot in Technicolor. The sequence, which appears to have been photographed outdoors, but actually was shot in an enclosed stage, presented a problem in that Shirley Temple's dress seemed to change color as she moved across the stage.
OUR LITTLE GIRL was released on 17 May 1935. James Dunn was originally scheduled for the male lead, but Joel McCrea replaced him because Dunn was tied up with GEORGE WHITE'S 1935 SCANDALS.
CURLY TOP was released on 26 July 1935. This was the film in which Shirley sang "Animal Crackers in My Soup." An eight-room cottage was built on the sound stage for the film, and after production, the studio turned down an offer by director Irving Cummings to buy it for $25,000 and instead moved it to the lot to be used as a play room, dressing room, and school room for Shirley Temple.
The plot of this film bears a striking resemblance to the 1912 novel Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster (and her play of the same name), a fact recognized by most reviewers. Fox, which produced an earlier film based on the novel and play in 1931, owned the motion picture rights to the novel and play. Mary Pickford had starred in a 1919 version of the novel, prior to its acquisition by Fox. This was the first of four remakes of Mary Pickford films in which Shirley Temple appeared.
Switzerland and Italy forbade the showing of this film because it was felt that the characterization of Shirley Temple as an "enfant terrible" would set a bad example for the children of their countries.
Shirley closed out 1935 with the Christmastime release of THE LITTLEST REBEL. Twentieth Century Pictures and Fox Film Corp. had merged into Twentieth Century Fox, and this was Temple's first film for the new entity. Special effects technician James Donlan rescued Bill Robinson after Robinson was knocked unconscious during a scene with John Boles in which they crossed a stream on a log. The log unexpectedly turned on them, and as they went under, Robinson struck his head on the log.
By 1936, Fox had a Shirley Temple picture arriving in theaters every 3 months. First up for the year was CAPTAIN JANUARY, released on April 17th. An aria from the opera Lucia di Lammermoor, originally written as a sextette, was performed in the film by Shirley Temple, Guy Kibbee, and Slim Summerville. Time magazine noted that this film broke box office records in Milwaukee; Portland, ME; Dayton; Richmond; Cincinnati; Boston; and Baltimore.
July 18, 1936 saw the release of POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL. Although the film bears the title of the Eleanor Gates novel, which was published in 1912, and her play, which was first produced in New York on 21 January 1913, many of the characters and incidents in it are based on an original story by Ralph Spence entitled "Betsy Takes the Air."
Fox Film Corp. acquired the motion picture rights to the play by Gates before they merged with Twentieth Century Pictures. They paid $20,000 to Gates and $20,000 to The Pickford Co., which held the motion picture rights following the production in 1917 of a film based on the play, which had starred Mary Pickford. Gates agreed to allow Shirley Temple to sing and dance in the film, but would not allow the company to make a musical comedy with chorus girls or an operetta.
As for Ralph Spence, he had written the scene in which Shirley Temple appeared in the film STAND UP AND CHEER!, and then severed his connection with Fox. It soon became evident that Temple was going to be a big star, so Spence's secretary, Gertrude Livingston, who was a fan of a radio program starring Baby Rose Marie, wrote a twenty-page outline of an idea for a radio story for Temple. Spence developed her story into a complete story outline, entitled "Betsy Takes the Air," but did not submit it to Fox because of personal differences with Fox's head of production, Winfield R. Sheehan. Spence held on to it hoping that another child star would be developed who could use the story. In October 1935, after the merger with Twentieth Century, Spence learned that the company was looking for a musical, and he sold the story to them for $5,000.
In the film, Temple, while singing the song "But Definitely," does an imitation of Bing Crosby crooning "Where the Blue of the Night."
DIMPLES was released on October 16, 1936. Curiously, Stepin Fetchit's name is not in the opening or closing credits of the video release of the film, but his name was included in the opening and closing credits of the 1936 release, and is on the poster below, along with his image. In a New York Times article at the time of the film's production, Bill Robinson was quoted saying about Shirley Temple, "The kid might not be a perfect tap dancer, but I want 'em to find me another her age who could learn five of my routines in a week." And Frank Morgan has been quoted as saying about Temple that "she is the greatest actress I ever played with."
Temple closed out 1936 with the Christmas Day opening of STOWAWAY. Dancer Tommy Wonder created the "rag doll dance," during which a performer dances with a life-sized rag doll, and he taught Shirley Temple how to do the dance. She uses his technique in the vaudeville section of this film, in which she dances with a male dummy and imitates Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. She also imitates Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor in this sequence.
STOWAWAY's story was set in China. In her autobiography, Temple states that Bessie Nyi, a student from Shanghai, taught her "several hundred Chinese phrases," in the "Mandarin dialect of North China."
In 1937, Temple's output was limited to two films, both of them released within a 3-month period. But the productions were becoming ever more elaborate. First up was WEE WILLIE WINKIE, released on 30 July 1937. This film was based on Rudyard Kipling's 1888 short story of the same name, and was directed by famed director John Ford. Alfred Newman was borrowed from United Artists to score the film. Cesar Romero was borrowed from Universal for the production, and Romero was put under a long term contract with Twentieth Century-Fox after the film was released. Newman would go with Fox two years later.
The picture's gala world premiere, held at the Carthay Circle Theatre on 25 June 1937, drew a crowd of more than 15,000 people, and was broadcast on the radio. It was also photographed for inclusion in ALI BABA GOES TO TOWN, a 1937 Twentieth Century-Fox film starring Eddie Cantor, which needed a movie premiere scene. Cantor emceed the radio broadcast and introduced some of the attending celebrities. In her autobiography, Temple notes that she was introduced by Tyrone Power at the premiere, and that she rates WEE WILLIE WINKIE as the best of her films. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Interior Decoration.
The film did not pass without some controversy. While Eleanor Roosevelt gave the film high praise in two of her daily syndicated columns, stating: "It is charming and no one could help but like it," one review in Britain was rather odd. On 28 October 1937, the English magazine Night and Day printed a review of the film by Graham Greene, who commented on Temple's "well-shaped and desirable little body," and her "dimpled depravity." Greene called her "a complete totsy" and "a fancy little piece," and asserted that her main admirers were "middle-aged men and clergymen." At least one major London distributor refused to handle the issue of the magazine in which the review appeared. In November 1937, Twentieth Century-Fox filed suit against Greene and the magazine, which had ceased publication by the time the case was brought to court. At the trial, Lord Chief Justice Hewart called the review a "gross outrage" and awarded £2,000 to Temple and £1,500 to Twentieth Century-Fox. In her autobiography, Temple notes that her award was "recycled immediately into 5 percent British War Loan Bonds to help arm sorely pressed England against a troubled Europe."
Temple's other 1937 film was the classic HEIDI, which opened on October 15, 1937. The film utilized a new three-tone tinting process, which had been under development for the previous ten months. The process involved a combination of sepia, amber and copper tones for daylight, and blue, orange and copper tones for nighttime. The New York Times noted that the print shown at the Roxy Theatre in New York was tinted softly in sepia and blue.
Some scenes in the film were shot at Lake Arrowhead, CA, and background shots were actually filmed in Switzerland. Jule Styne, in his autobiography, states that he was Temple's vocal coach for this film.
Allan Dwan, the director of HEIDI, returned to direct REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM, the first of Temple's three 1938 films. Released on March 18, 1938, the film was only "suggested by" the 1903 novel of the same name by Kate Douglas Wiggin.
Boxoffice magazine commented that this film was "launching [Temple] on a flying start to maintain for another year her position as No. 1 celluloid revenue producer." Jack Temple, one of the assistant directors on the film, was Shirley Temple's twenty-two-year-old brother.
By this time in her career, Shirley Temple was a marketing force as well as a boxoffice force. This was demonstrated by two incidents surrounding the film. In one, the Quaker Oats Company objected when they learned that there was to be a song in the film about "crackly corn flakes" and noted that Shirley Temple was under contract to them to advertise their product, Quaker's Puffed Wheat. The company felt that if the song were included, they would look ridiculous, as Temple would be seen to be boosting a competitive product, Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Because of their objections, Darryl Zanuck ordered the song title changed to "Crackly Grain Flakes."
In the second incident, the National Confectioners' Association filed a $500,000 libel suit against Twentieth Century-Fox claiming that a scene in the film did members of the association irreparable damage. In the scene in question, after Rebecca (Temple) has arrived at Sunnybrook Farm, Miranda (Helen Westley) asks if she has had anything to eat. Rebecca says that her uncle bought her a candy bar, whereupon Miranda says, "Candy bar! Gwen, take the child into the kitchen and get her something decent to eat." The association claimed that the scene "libels a bar of candy and holds up the candy profession to ridicule and shame." According to Fox legal records, the suit was soon dropped.
On July 29, 1938, LITTLE MISS BROADWAY was released. It's been reported that executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck wrote most of the final screenplay for this film. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Shirley Temple on the set during filming.
In JUST AROUND THE CORNER, released on November 11, 1938, Temple played in her fourth and final film with Bill Robinson.
Temple's first film of 1939 was THE LITTLE PRINCESS, released on March 17. This was another story that Mary Pickford had filmed in 1917. As far back as 1934, Fox had begun negotiations to purchase the rights for Shirley Temple. This was Temple's first all-color film. A special trailer was made for the film using new high-speed Technicolor stock that was also utilized in the filming of GONE WITH THE WIND.
Darryl F. Zanuck declined a substantial offer from M-G-M to star Temple as Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ, and instead cast her in SUSANNAH OF THE MOUNTIES, released on 23 June 1939. Walter Lang was the original director of this film, but he was replaced by William Seiter when Lang became ill with the flu. This was Temple's third and last film with Randolph Scott.
Temple's first film of 1940 was THE BLUE BIRD. This was Temple's second full-color film. Fifteen sound stages were used in shooting the $2 million production, and the filming of the red room scenes presented difficulties as far as the Technicolor process was concerned. The picture was considered good enough to be put into roadshow release in mid-January in San Francisco, New York, Boston and Detroit, before going into general release on March 22. The film was not a financial success, however.
Shirley's only other picture of 1940, YOUNG PEOPLE, opened on August 30. It was Temple's last picture on her seven-year Twentieth-Century Fox contract. The film follows Shirley's character from the time she is an infant, barely able to walk, until she becomes a singer and dancer in her parents' vaudeville act. The original story idea was dictated by Darryl F. Zanuck, who wanted to show Temple growing up on screen in front of a live audience.
Shirley Temple was 12 years old at the conclusion of her Fox contract. Her parents sent her to Westlake School for Girls, an exclusive country day school in Los Angeles. Within a year of her departure from Fox, Temple was signed to a contract with M-G-M. Throughout late 1940 and early 1941, there were various announcements that Temple was to star in several projects, among them BABES ON BROADWAY and PANAMA HATTIE, but she was replaced by other actresses. Her first film for M-G-M was KATHLEEN, which opened on 22 January 1942. Although the poster for the film said that "She's twelve and terrific now!," it was "Kathleen" the character who was 12. Temple was nearly 14 at the time of the film's release.
Although the Variety review called KATHLEEN "tedious" and said that Temple "does not tee off auspiciously" with her first M-G-M picture, several reviews praised Temple for her new, more grown-up performance. But according to Temple's autobiography, neither she nor her mother were happy at M-G-M during Temple's time at the studio, and her mother turned down all other roles offered to the young actress. Thus, KATHLEEN was Temple's one and only film at M-G-M.
After leaving M-G-M, Temple was hired by independent producer Edward Small to star in MISS ANNIE ROONEY. United Artists released the film on 29 May 1942. Temple received her first onscreen romantic kiss in this film. The picture marked Shirley Temple's attempt at revitalizing her film career, which had slowed when she entered her teens. However, the picture received dismal reviews, and Temple did not make another film for two years.
It was David O. Selznick who brought Shirley Temple back to the big screen. SINCE YOU WENT AWAY, Selznick's film about the home front during World War II, was released less than two months after D-Day, on July 20, 1944. Temple played "Brig" Hilton in the film, one of the daughters (along with Jennifer Jones) of Claudette Colbert's Anne Hilton, whose husband has gone off to war. Stage actress Katharine Cornell wanted to play the role of "Anne," but Selznick desired a bigger star. Colbert, when approached about playing the part of "Anne," was at first reluctant because she didn't want to play the mother of two adolescent daughters. Colbert was nominated for Best Actress for her role in the film.
Temple's second film for Selznick was I'LL BE SEEING YOU, released on January 5, 1945. It was another homefront drama, in which Temple played the cousin of Ginger Rogers. Selznick was displeased with William Dieterle's direction of a scene in which "Barbara" (Temple) confesses to "Mary" (Rogers) that she told "Zach" (Joseph Cotton) about her prison record. Selznick wrote a replacement scene and hired George Cukor to direct it.
Temple returned to lead roles in KISS AND TELL, a domestic comedy released by Columbia on October 18, 1945. Columbia spent two years negotiating for the screen rights to the 1943 F. Hugh Herbert play upon which the film was based. Herbert had based the character of "Corliss Archer" on his teenage daughter. In addition to writing the original play, Herbert adapted it to the screen. George Abbott produced both the stage and screen versions.
Columbia initially conceived the play as a vehicle for Rita Hayworth, but David O. Selznick loaned Shirley Temple to Columbia for the production. Selznick initially demanded approval of the screenplay and daily rushes because he was concerned that the subject matter was too "sexy" for former child star Temple.
RKO borrowed Guy Madison and Shirley Temple from David O. Selznick's company for the production of HONEYMOON, which was released on May 17, 1947. Joseph Cotten was first cast in the role of "David Flanner," but turned down the part because he felt he was too old to be linked romantically with Temple's character. As a result of his refusal, Cotten was put on suspension by Selznick.
The film was shot partly in Hollywood and partly in and around RKO's new Churubusco studios near Mexico City. The picture cost $1,739,000 to produce and lost $675,000 at the box office.
In addition to Shirley Temple, RKO borrowed Johnny Sands, producer Dore Schary and writer Sidney Sheldon from David O. Selznick's Vanguard Pictures for THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER. Schary objected to the film's title because he felt it suggested a distasteful sexual relationship, but was overruled by the more commercially minded Selznick. Director Irving Reis collapsed a week after filming had started and was replaced temporarily by Schary. When he returned to the production, Reis concentrated on the technical aspects of the film, while Schary focused on the actors. The film, released on 1 September 1947, was Schary's last personal producing assignment before becoming vice-president in charge of production at RKO.
A representative of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Chicago became upset after reading that Temple was to take her first screen drink in the film and asked RKO executives to eliminate the scene. In the film, Temple does not take any alcoholic drink. The film was a big success, earning $5,550,000 at the box office.
Temple co-starred with Ronald Reagan in her last 1947 film, THAT HAGEN GIRL. Released on November 1, the film was Temple's first for Warner Bros. The melodrama also marked the motion picture debut of Canadian-born actress Lois Maxwell (1927--2007), who was best known for her portrayal of "Miss Moneypenny" in the James Bond films, beginning in 1962 with DR. NO. Franz Waxman scored the film.
Shirley Temple, John Wayne, and Henry Fonda all received the same salary --$100,000--for appearing in FORT APACHE. The film was Temple's only release in 1948, and it reunited her with John Ford, her director in WEE WILLIE WINKIE. On a budget of $2.1 million, the film showed a profit of $445,000, and was one of RKO's biggest moneymakers of the year.
John Agar, a former serviceman who was married to Shirley Temple at the time of production, made his screen debut in the film. He and Temple, both of whom RKO borrowed from David O. Selznick's company for the production, divorced in 1949.
1949 was a busy year for Shirley Temple. She and co-star John Agar were both borrowed again from David O. Selznick's company for ADVENTURE IN BALTIMORE. Barbara Bel Geddes was to star in the film, but was replaced by Temple after complaining about appearing in another period piece (her previous screen role was in RKO's 1948 film I REMEMBER MAMA). The film opens with a voice-over narration and includes brief scenes showing Shirley Temple as a typical "American school girl" in 1948, 1925 and 1913.
The film was released on April 19, 1949. It was the second and last picture that Temple and Agar, who divorced shortly after this film, made together. It was also one of the last films that production executive Dore Schary worked on before leaving RKO because of differences with new owner Howard Hughes. The picture lost $785,000 at the box office.
In 1944, David O. Selznick had signed Shirley Temple to a personal four-year contract. Selznick, however, soon became involved with Jennifer Jones and lost interest in developing Temple's career. Finally released by Selznick, Temple returned to 20th Century-Fox for her second film of 1949, MR. BELVEDERE GOES TO COLLEGE. The film was the sequel to Fox's 1948 film SITTING PRETTY. MR. BELVEDERE was released in May.
Temple made her second film for Warner Bros. with THE STORY OF SEABISCUIT, released on November 12, 1949. Temple played the niece of Irish horse trainer Shawn O'Hara (Barry Fitzgerald).
Shirley Temple's last film in 1949 was A KISS FOR CORLISS, released on November 25. The film was a sequel to the 1945 film KISS AND TELL, in which Temple had also starred. Independent financeer Henry G. Kuh entered into negotiations with producer Colin Miller to produce a third "Corliss Archer" picture, "Corliss Goes Abroad," which would also star Shirley Temple.
David O. Selznick had once suggested that Temple move abroad, gain maturity as an actress, and even change her name. She had been typecast, he warned her, and her career was in perilous straits. After auditioning for and losing the role of Peter Pan on the Broadway stage in August 1950, Temple took stock, admitted her recent movies had been poor fare, and announced her official retirement from films on December 16, 1950. She was twenty-two years old.