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The Little Princess

The Little Princess(1939)


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The working title of this film was Little Princess. Frances Hodgson Burnett adapted her short novel Sara Crewe for the stage under the title A Little Princess. The play ran in London and New York from 1902-1903 and, according to modern sources, was so successful that Scribner's, Burnett's publisher, asked her to expand her original novel, using scenes from the play. That novel was also titled A Little Princess and was published in New York in 1905. According to a news item in Daily Variety, in 1934, Fox started negotiations with Paramount to purchase the rights to The Little Princess, the 1917 Artcraft film that was also based on the Burnett novel, starring Mary Pickford and directed by Marshall Neilan (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.2551). The Daily Variety item states that Fox wanted the story as a vehicle for Shirley Temple. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the first treatment of the screenplay entitled "A Little Princess" was written by Julien Josephson and Walter Ferris. A second revised treatment was then written by Julien Josephson and Philip Dunne. These treatments were then discarded in favor of an original story and treatment by Rian James entitled Little Princess. This was discarded for a new treatment entitled The Little Princess, written by Ferris and Ethel Hill, the writers credited with the final screenplay. According to records of story conferences contained in the Fox files, Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Arleen Whelan for the role of "Miss Rose" and Reggie Gardiner for the role of "Bertie". Another news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that a special trailer was made for this film using new high-speed Technicolor stock that was also utilized in the filming of Gone with the Wind.