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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm(1938)


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Cyrus Bartlett, manufacturer of "Crackly Grain Flakes," berates radio advertising executive Anthony Kent because he has failed to find a girl to be "Little Miss America" after nationwide advertising has gone out about the upcoming show. However, when he hears eight-year-old Rebecca Winstead's audition, Bartlett knows they have the right girl. Tony calls the studio and orders his assistant, singer and announcer Orville Smithers, to have Rebecca stop the audition, and Orville, thinking that Bartlett is not interested in her, tells Rebecca and her stepfather, Henry "Harry" Kipper, who is also her manager, to leave. Because they have been evicted by their landlady, Harry takes Rebecca upstate to Sunnybrook Farm, which belongs to Miranda Wilkins, the sister of Rebecca's deceased mother. When he learns that Rebecca has left the studio, Tony is frantic, but Orville tells him that they have the addresses of all the girls who auditioned. After ordering Orville to find her, Tony, to escape the city, leaves for his farm upstate. At Sunnybrook Farm, Miranda, who has no use for theater people, because she thinks that they ruined her sister's life, agrees to keep Rebecca only if she can have her for good. Rebecca, who is happy at the farm, chases a piglet into the next yard and meets Tony, who owns the neighboring farm, which is run by Homer Busby. Tony retrieves the pig, but falls in a well doing so. Upon climbing out, Tony is happy to meet Rebecca's attractive cousin, Gwen Warren. Miranda, who has not spoken to Homer for the past twenty-five years because he got drunk the night before their planned wedding and forgot to attend, orders Rebecca to stay on their side of the fence. Rebecca, however, does visit Tony, and as she eats with him, Orville arrives and relates that he has failed to find the girl. Tony calls Bartlett, who yells at him, but during the phone call, Orville hears Rebecca singing and realizes that she is the girl they have been looking for. Tony has her sing over the phone and Bartlett is mollified, but Miranda, when she learns that Tony wants to take Rebecca to New York for the broadcast, orders him out of her house. Gwen, who likes Tony, suggests that they do a remote broadcast from Tony's house, and Rebecca and Tony agree. On the night of the broadcast, Homer helps Rebecca sneak down a ladder out her window, but as he attempts to follow, the ladder falls over and he is forced to hide in Rebecca's room. When Homer falls off a rocking chair, Miranda discovers him in the room and admonishes him. Homer, however, is relieved that she is finally talking to him, and as she softens, he succeeds in getting her to give him another chance. Rather than be angry about the broadcast, Miranda now takes a proprietary interest in Rebecca and makes sure that her salary is high enough. When Gwen learns from Orville that singer Lola Lee, who has snubbed him, is in love with Tony and gets the wrong idea that Tony wants her, she acts cold to him. Harry, who has heard the broadcast with his new wife Melba, arrives at the farm with his attorney after getting a court order to take Rebecca away. After they leave with Rebecca, Gwen tells Tony, and he takes her with him to New York, where they find Rebecca in the offices of his competitor Purvis, who has just signed a contract with Harry for Rebecca to sing as "Little Miss Universe." However, Rebecca loses her voice during the broadcast, and a doctor, after examining her in private, says she may recover in a year or two, whereupon Purvis tears up the contract. Tony pays Harry and Melba $5,000 for Harry to give up Rebecca so that she can return to Miranda, and Rebecca reveals that she was faking, with the doctor's assistance. In the audience during her broacast, Bartlett smiles, Orville and Lois hold hands, as do Homer and Miranda, and Tony watches with his arm around Gwen.