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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
Rudyard Kipling's story serves as the basis for this excellent John Ford film. Mr. Ford, one of America's best directors of all times, got probably a fantastic budget to get this movie made. It paid well as we are given a great account of Mr. Kipling's novel by the man who knew about how to make movies come alive.
This was obviously a Shirley Temple vehicle. Ms. Temple was one of the best child actress of all times. Whenever she is in front of the camera, this little girl has a way of stealing the viewer's heart. In all the films we have seen, this seems to be her best, and in fact, Ms. Temple always speaks about her fond memories about this movie.
Of course, this film wouldn't have worked the way it did, had it not been by the amazing performance by Victor McLaglen, who as Sgt. MacDuff, befriends the little girl that has come to live at the headquarters where he is serving. His roughness are tamed by the love he feels toward young Priscilla.
John Ford got excellent performances from everyone, but of course, Shirley Temple and Victor McLaglen run away with the film and our admiration. C. Aubrey Smith, the distinguished actor makes a great appearance as the Colonel in charge of the outpost in India. Cesar Romero is also good as the rebel Khoda Kahn. June Lang plays Priscilla's mother and Michael Whalen is "Coppy", the man who falls for the young girl's widowed mother.
This is a film that will delight anyone, young or old, because it is a timeless classic, thanks to John Ford.
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