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The Littlest Rebel (1935)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Family  |  27 December 1935 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 871 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 7 critic

Shirley Temple's father, a rebel officer, sneaks back to his rundown plantation to see his family and is arrested. A Yankee takes pity and sets up an escape. Everyone is captured and the ... See full summary »



(screen play) (as Edwin Burke) , (from the play by), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Captain Herbert Cary
Colonel Morrison
Karen Morley ...
Mrs. Cary
Uncle Billy
Sergeant Dudley (as Guinn Williams)
Willie Best ...
James Henry
Frank McGlynn Sr. ...
Bessie Lyle ...
Hannah Washington ...
Sally Ann


Shirley Temple's father, a rebel officer, sneaks back to his rundown plantation to see his family and is arrested. A Yankee takes pity and sets up an escape. Everyone is captured and the officers are to be executed. Shirley and "Bojangles" Robinson beg President Lincoln to intercede. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


America's Little Sweetheart . . . The Dimpled Darling You Love in the Greatest of Civil War Dramas !


Comedy | Drama | Family | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 December 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Pequena Rebelde  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Both John Boles and Bill Robinson nearly drowned while trying to cross a raging, fifteen-foot river for an escape scene that was cut from the film. See more »


Yankee Guard: Where are you going, sir?
Capt. Herbert Cary, aka 'Master Cary': I'm taking this child to her father just beyond our lines. Colonel Morrison sent me. Here's his pass.
Virginia 'Virgie' Cary: Have you got a little girl, mister?
Yankee Guard: No, I've got a boy. Where'd you come from?
Capt. Herbert Cary, aka 'Master Cary': Cary's plantation.
Yankee Guard: Why aren't you using the main roads?
Capt. Herbert Cary, aka 'Master Cary': We'd heard about Cary going the other way.
Virginia 'Virgie' Cary: How old's your little boy?
Yankee Guard: Five.
Virginia 'Virgie' Cary: Oh, I'm six.
See more »


Referenced in The Landlord (1970) See more »


(I Wish I Was in) Dixie's Land
(1860) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Played during the opening credits
Sung by Shirley Temple
Also played in the background as the troops are leaving for war
See more »

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User Reviews

Be sure to have your nitroglycerine tablets and defibrullator handy when you watch this one!!
22 January 2013 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

WARNING: Watching this film might cause your head to explode! I'm just sayin'.....

"The Littlest Rebel" begins in an insanely over-idealized view of the South during the time of slavery. Little Virgie (Shirley Temple) is having a birthday party and all the slaves on the plantation are thrilled to be allowed to serve her! All the slaves are very well-fed and dressed and so happy! It's THAT ridiculous a view of slavery!! Yes, these slaves actually root for the Confederate Army and would probably volunteer to be slaves--it's THAT ridiculous. When their land is overrun by Yankee soldiers, the slaves stick around and keep working for their beloved owners! And, to further solidify this insane view of blacks, Willie Best (I guess Steppin Fetchit wasn't available) is on hand to act sub-human and harmless. And, there's that darling little scene at the 20 minute mark where Shirley is in black-face to avoid the Yankees finding her (and she looks a lot like the Aunt Jemima character)!! The film clearly promotes a ridiculously bigoted and idealized view of slavery, I advise parents to watch this with their kids and folks with heart conditions to have their nitro tablets and a defibrillator nearby just in case!!

The rest of the film has to do with the war. While Daddy is away, Momma and Virgie hang on--waiting for each trip he makes back through enemy lines on his scouting expeditions. However, eventually, Momma becomes seriously ill and Daddy once again sneaks through the lines--only to see her moments before her death. Now, poor Virgie needs some place to live and Daddy decides to sneak her off to Richmond. But, to get there, he needs to sneak her with him--and that won't be easy. It gets a bit ridiculous here, as a sympathetic Northern Colonel actually helps him in this task because he also thinks Virgie is wonderful (EVERYBODY thinks she's wonderful, actually). But, when they are caught, it's up to Virgie to save the day. How? Well, see this for a sweet but 100% ridiculous ending.

This film is quite offensive but, like all of Shirley's films, highly entertaining. Her wonderful dancing with Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson and ultra-sweet persona carry the film---making you enjoy it despite the utter silliness of the plot. Well worth seeing even if it is a SERIOUSLY flawed film.

By the way, I really agree with JohnnyOldSoul's review when he says that the best way to combat racism is NOT to sweep it under the rug (i.e., ban this film) but to talk about it. Yes, the film is VERY offensive, but it also gives us an interesting history lesson about how bad things were racially in the 1930s--when the "Birth of a Nation" view of slavery was pretty much assumed to be true. Plus, seeing it shows us just have far we've come.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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