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Movie Review

Curly Top

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Musical Drama
1 hr. 14 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 26, 1935 (wide)
Box art from “Curly Top”
Featuring: Shirley Temple, John Boles, Esther Dale, Jane Darwell, Etienne Girardot, Rochelle Hudson, Maurice Murphy, Rafaela Ottiano, Arthur Treacher
Director: Irving Cummings
Producer: Winfield R. Sheehan
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

This is a very enjoyable Shirley Temple “formula” film, with a charming 7-year-old Shirley and lots of song and dance from her and from other cast members.

Shirley’s character, Elizabeth Blair, is in an orphanage along with her young-adult sister Mary (Rochelle Hudson). Elizabeth just can’t seem to remember that her duty in the orphanage is to be sad and serious all the time; she sings, dances and just enjoys life regardless of her circumstances. One of the orphanage’s rich trustees, Edward Morgan (John Boles), takes a strong interest in helping Elizabeth and Mary.

The only negative thing in this film that might have been handled better is Morgan (a lawyer) lying and saying that the good he does for Elizabeth and Mary are actually being done by one of his clients. He has his reasons for doing that, but eventually his lies catch up with him and he has to cover them by telling more lies, until the truth finally comes out anyhow. (If that were the worst offensive element in any movie, the world would be a much better place.) The orphanage children are shown praying before going to bed. There are other references to prayer and to Sunday school scattered throughout the film. Apparently there was a time in our history when faith in God wasn’t considered corny.

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