Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Little Princess (1939)

This post is coming from a random movie memory. Nothing triggered it or influenced. I just started thinking of Shirley Temple movies.

I have no idea why I'm so intent on writing about it. I just watched "Spaced". Not even closely related...

"The Little Princess" is the only Shirley temple movie I can watch where I'm not grinding my teeth in annoyance.

Yes, Temple annoys me. I know I am speaking in blasphemous tongues when I admit that I am not a fan of the cute, ringlet curled starlett. I know she was needed in times of great depression to sing and tap her little toes away. Yes, she was oh so very cute.

Every time I see her onscreen, I feel that I am watching an alien pantomime a human child. She just does not seem natural at all. Lady Gaga seems more down to earth.

I guess it's no wonder that the only Shirley Temple movie I liked is the one where she is the least cutest in one of the saddest stories I know.

There was a modern version of this movie but since I can't find my copies of either version I'm going to go with Temple since it was the first one that my father showed me. Or the first one that I swiped from my dads collection. Point is, it was the first version and my dad is somehow attached to it memory-wise.

'Little Princess" involves a girl named Sara Crewe whose left in a boarding facility when her father goes off to fight in the Boer War. She's a wealth young girl and is treated accordingly. That is until her father disappears and is presumed dead, then the funds stop coming. She is immediately downgraded to a servant and is made to room with a nice young servant girl.

Refusing to succumb to sorrow of her downfall, Sara uses her hyperactive imagination to entertain herself and the servant girls that they are both princesses. They make friends with the neighbors (who are rich) and suddenly starts to receive extravagant gifts which they struggle to hide.

They are discovered however and both lives of the girls are threatened. Dum-da-duuuum!!

I won't tell you the rest. Just know it gets sappy and tearful. It's a justly satisfying ending.

It doesn't sound like movie that Shirley Temple is in does it? Of all the films I made myself endure, this was the only one where I can her an actress instead of cute act. She didn't overact the cuteness, she didn't exaggerate the sadness. I can actually sense the determination and strength. Whether it's the great depression of the thirties or the recession now, this type of movie encourages me to fight on instead of the silly and frilly musicals. I love musicals but it's almost like a cheap thrill ride. Your high for a brief moment in time until you walk away from the movie.

I wouldn't say it's a depressing movie however. It's not dramatic enough to jerk some tears out of your eyes. It is a family movie, I remember that. Maybe more for the younger female audience.

Honestly, I haven't re watched this movie in at least six years. It's just one of those movies that impacted me so much that I can still remember certain emotions. There is the scene where they're playing around in the attic. I can still recall how chilly I felt watching that as a younger me.

I just read a tidbit on imdb that they had to use a scarlet macaw instead of a monkey since the monkey kept trying to bite Shirley Temple.

See. Even nature can tell she's abnormal (Scarlet Macaws are aliens too. They wouldn't attack their own kind).

"Yes Pinky...I will take over the world!!!"

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