Cast & Crew
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.
Raymond Scott Quintet
J. Edward Bromberg
Clarence Hummel Wilson
W. F. Fitzgerald
Joseph La Shelle
Sidney D. Mitchell
Richard A. Whiting
Darryl F. Zanuck
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was made as a replacement for another Temple had hoped to make, The Wizard of Oz (1939). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer assistant producer Arthur Freed had been interested in having Temple star as Dorothy, but producer Mervyn LeRoy wanted Judy Garland. Composer-arranger Roger Edens, who worked extensively with Garland, auditioned Temple but reported back, "Her vocal limitations are insurmountable," and Garland got the part. Decades later, Temple would write in her autobiography, "Instead of dancing down a yellow-brick road to see a wonderful wizard, I would return to retrace the path I had already traveled. It was time to recall sacred cows and Zanuck threw wide the cow-shed door. Any promise of new directions drained away. I would be a rehash of somebody else."
While Temple's mother had first suggested Pickford's old roles, the curly hairdo was getting old and she wanted to see Shirley with a different look. "But then, I'm only a mother. I don't shape her career. That's up to the studio." The studio wanted to keep what worked and Temple kept a modified version of the curls. Another actress wanted to see Temple in a different light as well. According to Temple, Helen Hayes told Mrs. Temple that she wanted to play the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet with Temple playing Juliet. It was an odd suggestion, as Temple was only ten years old. Like Dorothy, Juliet was a role Temple never played. Instead, she went into production on Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
The Shirley Temple version of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm bore very little resemblance to the Pickford film, other than the title and the names of the characters. Nor was it similar to the 1903 novel by Kate Douglas Wiggin, the 1910 Broadway play or Marion Nixon's 1932 Fox film. The screenplay by Karl Tunberg and Don Ettlinger was, as the film's credits noted, "suggested by" the novel. Instead of 1903, the film is set in 1938, with Shirley playing a talented girl who impresses a radio producer and his sponsor, but then goes to live with her aunt on a farm and is forbidden to associate with showbiz people. But fate takes a hand when the producer, who is trying to find Shirley, just happens to move in next door.
Included in the supporting cast were Randolph Scott, Jack Haley, Helen Westley and Gloria Stuart. The latter actress, who enjoyed a late career success with 1997's Titanic, hadn't wanted to take the role but Zanuck convinced her that Temple's popularity would ensure that she would be seen by millions around the world. Sixty years later, Stuart admitted that Zanuck had been right. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm also co-starred Temple's most famous dancing partner, the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson.
Robinson had worked with Temple in two 1935 films, The Littlest Rebel and The Little Colonel, and had become a good friend of the Temple family, often invited with his wife to the Temple's Sunday brunches. "Uncle Billy," as Temple called him, had several photos of her hanging in his home. To get to Hollywood, Robinson, who was afraid to fly, took a train across the country. En route, he sent Temple a telegram with his love, "From the bottom of my heart to the sole of your feet." On arrival, he gave her a charm bracelet featuring himself with his signature hat and cane, which he inscribed "to my best and smartest girlfriend."
With this close relationship, it is not surprising that Temple was confused to learn that Robinson, who came out to the Desert Inn resort in Mount San Jacinto to work on the dance routines for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, wasn't staying at the resort. Because of segregation, he was forced to lodge above a garage at a drugstore on the road leading into the resort. Temple was surprised, and, with a child's innocence, told him that that was where the chauffeurs stayed. Robinson smiled and assured her that his chauffeur was staying there, too. Temple later wrote that she was too young and too sheltered to be aware of racial prejudice.
The dance routines were grueling to shoot, as Temple remembered. "Our practice routine was long, incorporating jazz and blues with complicated nerve taps, all in an unbroken sequence. Even when we did the film I got a charley horse." She was also made to recall her former hits, singing a medley of "On the Good Ship Lollipop, Oh My Goodness," "You Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby," and "Animal Crackers."
Raymond Scott's orchestra (most famous for their music in the Warner Bros. cartoons) appeared in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Temple enjoyed playing the drums in between shots. Director Allan Dwan suggested they incorporate her playing into the film. Temple and drummer Johnny Williams rehearsed the drums in her dressing room cottage until the neighboring workers complained. To Temple's disappointment, the sequence was cut and the drums were donated to the local boys' club.
While Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was a modest hit, it did not make it into the top ten for the year, although Temple, with the help of two other films released in 1938, retained her title of top box office attraction. The world was changing, Shirley Temple was growing up and within three years she would leave 20th Century-Fox and her childhood behind.
Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck (uncredited)
Director: Allan Dwan
Screenplay: Karl Tunberg, Don Ettlinger (screenplay); Kate Douglas Wiggin (story); William M. Conselman, Ben Markson (contributor to treatment, both uncredited)
Cinematography: Arthur Miller
Art Direction: Bernard Herzbrun, Hans Peters
Music: Max Steiner
Film Editing: Allen McNeil
Cast: Shirley Temple (Rebecca Winstead), Randolph Scott (Anthony Kent), Jack Haley (Orville Smithers), Gloria Stuart (Gwen Warren), Phyllis Brooks (Lola Lee), Helen Westley (Aunt Miranda Wilkins), Slim Summerville (Homer Busby), Bill Robinson (Aloysius), Raymond Scott Quintet, Alan Dinehart (Purvis).
by Lorraine LoBianco
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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938)
Shirley Temple Collection, Vol. 2 - The Shirley Temple Collection Vol. 2
Baby Take a Bow (1934) is an anomaly in the Temple canon, as one of the few films in which everyone's favorite orphan is actually allowed to have parents. Eddie Ellison (James Dunn) is a convict who is released into the loving arms of his fiancee Kay (Claire Trevor) after an eighteen month stretch in the slammer. Determined to go straight, Eddie marries Kay and the two settle down to domestic life. Six years later, after the addition of adored daughter Shirley, the family is still remains blissfully happy despite the hardships of the Depression, and Eddie's difficulty in retaining a job when his employers learn that he is an ex-con: although Eddie and his best friend Larry Scott (Ray Walker), another ex-con, have lived exemplary lives since their release, they are hounded by insurance investigator Welch (Alan Dinhart), who keeps constant watch on the pair, his credo being "once a criminal, always a criminal."
Eddie and Larry secure jobs with wealthy industrialist Stuart Carson (Richard Tucker), who is very pleased with their on-the-job performance. But when a valuable string of pearls is stolen, Welch informs Carson that Eddie and Larry are felons, and they are immediately (albeit reluctantly) discharged. Knowing that they are innocent, the boys think nothing of thumbing their noses at Welch as he makes a search of Eddie's apartment. But they are forced into a tense game of hide and seek when the shocked pair discover that the real thief has delivered the stolen pearls into the hands of little Shirley. The panic to keep the loot hidden leads to a truly harrowing climax when the thief returns to retrieve the purloined pearls, and uses Shirley as a human shield when the shooting starts!
It was less that six months after Baby Take a Bow that Fox hit real pay dirt with the release of Bright Eyes (1934), the film that introduced the tot's signature tune "On the Good Ship Lollipop," as well as the device of Shirley as an orphan (which would prove so popular it would play out in most of the rest of her films). Temple plays Shirley Blake, whose aviator father died in a plane crash, and whose mother works for the Smythes, a pair of rich snobs whose household is dominated by their bad-seed daughter, ironically named Joy (Jane Withers, who would also prove so popular she would become Shirley's favorite nemesis). The one bright spot in the household is the Smythe's Uncle Ned, who holds the purse-strings. When Shirley's mother is struck down by a car, a battle for custody ensues between Uncle Ned, for whom Shirley is the only source of happiness, and the poor-but-kindly "Loop" (James Dunn), her adoring godfather, who wants nothing more than to adopt her for his own.
Despite Temple's trademark glimmer and the sprightly songs, Bright Eyes is surprisingly unsentimental in its depiction of the hardships of the poor during the Depression. Loop is honest and hard-working, but hasn't the money to fight one of the few remaining wealthy families, and his attempt to earn the money to mount a custody battle puts his life in jeopardy. The scene in which Shirley's mother is killed is truly shocking, and the scene that follows, in which Dunn explains to Shirley what has happened, is absolutely heartbreaking. It's a testament to the talents of all involved, particularly director David Butler and the two stars, that the film is moving rather than mawkish.
All that remains of Kate Douglas Wiggin's popular novel is the title in this screen version of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938). Temple stars as Rebecca Winstead, who longs for a career singing on the radio. When her step-father Harry Kipper (William Demarest) tires of bearing the brunt of Rebecca's upkeep, he deposits her with her crusty Aunt Miranda (Helen Westley), who agrees to take over the girl's upbringing in an attempt to keep her free from the influence of "show people." But the talented Rebecca comes to the notice of radio producer Tony Kent (Randolph Scott), who owns the neighboring farm. Kent's chief sponsor is desperate for an appropriate child star to feature on his show. With Aunt Miranda dead-set against the idea, Kent plots to broadcast the show from his farm, and with the help of Miranda's niece Gwen Warren (Gloria Stuart), spirits Rebecca to the make-shift studio for the broadcast. The requisite battle for the tiny tot's custody ensues when Rebecca becomes a star, and her step-father reappears to claim Rebecca and take her back to the city, where he hopes to cash in on the child's new-found stardom.
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is not the strongest of Temple's features, but it provides her with a few nice musical numbers (as well as a chance to do a medley of her previous hits), and it culminates with a production number in which Shirley performs with the legendary Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, in one of their most famous pairings.
Coupled with The Shirley Temple Collection Volume 1, which included Curly Top, Heidi, and Little Miss Broadway, Volume 2 offers some of the best work of one of the little girl who was not only one of the greatest child stars of all time, but a national phenomenon.
The sources for the collection have been restored, but naturally still show signs of general wear, with Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm faring the best both in terms of picture and audio quality. Each disc includes the restored original black and white version of the films, along with a computer colorized edition. The set also includes an exclusive Shirley Temple charm bracelet!
For more information about Shirley Temple Collection, Vol. 2, visit Fox Home Entertainment. To order Shirley Temple Collection, Vol. 2, go to TCM Shopping.
by Fred Hunter
Shirley Temple Collection, Vol. 2 - The Shirley Temple Collection Vol. 2
According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, "the only things that have been taken from Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm-the literary property which we own-are a few minor instances, the character of the little girl and the title." The legal records also note that the screenplay written by Karl Tunberg and Don Ettlinger was "entirely separate" from one written earlier by William Conselman and Ben Markson, although the producer gave Tunberg and Ettlinger ideas that were included in the earlier screenplay. According to the legal records, the songs "Nevada Moon," by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, and "Au Revoir," by Lew Pollack and Sidney D. Mitchell, were originally to be in the film, and some scenes were shot at the Soldiers' Home in Los Angeles.
Box Office commented that this film was "launching [Temple] on a flying start to maintain for another year her position as No. 1 celluloid revenue producer." According to MPPDA information, Jack Temple, one of the assistant directors on the film, was Shirley Temple's twenty-two-year-old brother. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, Walter Brennan was listed in an early treatment for the role of "Homer Busby." According to correspondence in the legal records, 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." According to news items, 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 has arrived at Sunnybrook Farm, Miranda 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." According to a news item, the association claimed that the scene "libels a bar of candy and holds up the candy profession to ridicule and shame." According to the legal records, the suit was soon dropped. According to modern sources, Jule Styne was Temple's vocal supervisor for this film. In 1932, Fox produced a film based on the play Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Wiggin and Charlotte Thompson. Please see this entry above for information regarding other films based on the same source.