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Priscilla Williams is a young girl traveling with her mother, Joyce, to join her paternal grandfather, a British army colonel, at the post he commands in northern India. Upon arrival, they witness the capture of Khoda Khan, leader of the rebel Indian faction. Priscilla plays at being a soldier and is even given a uniform and allowed to drill by the genial Sergeant MacDuff, but her gruff grandfather disapproves and insists she remain apart from the troops. She eventually charms him, along with everyone else on the post, including Khoda Khan, whom she wins over by returning a talisman he's dropped. When the attractive Lieutenant Brandes deserts his post to take Joyce to a dance, Khan escapes, and Brandes is arrested. As hostilities with the rebels mount, Priscilla and servant Mohammet Dihn --actually an Indian spy--take off for Khoda Khan's stronghold. Written by
Shirley Temple in Rudyard Kipling Tale of British India
India - the 1890's - the North-West Frontier. Precocious young Priscilla arrives with her widowed mother to live with the grandfather they've never met, a stern old Army Colonel. Gaining the nickname of Private WEE WILLIE WINKIE, the little girl quickly charms nearly everyone around her, including a tough Scots Sergeant. But it is her influence with the local bandit chief that portends the greatest impact on all their lives.
This was arguably Shirley Temple's finest film. It is certainly her most lavish. Fox & director John Ford fashioned a mini-epic with great atmosphere and much to please family viewers. The detailed sets & huge cast of extras do the picture proud.
Shirley is wonderful, as usual, in her own unique way, but this time she has a couple of co-stars that can hold their own with her. Victor McLaglen is every inch the embodiment of a bluff British sergeant - and well he should, given his real-life background as a boxing champion and Provost Marshal of Baghdad. Gruff & tender by turns, he gives an unforgettable performance. As Shirley's grandfather, marvelous old Sir C. Aubrey Smith gives another sterling portrayal as the archetype of the colonial officer class - crusty & domineering.
The rest of the cast is equally enjoyable: Cesar Romero as the chieftain; June Lang & Michael Whalen as Shirley's mother and her new lieutenant friend (fortunately their romance is unobtrusive); Willie Fung as the giggling, treacherous house boy; and Constance Collier as the waspish wife of a brigade officer.
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