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 ... See full summary »
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 disclosed in her autobiography that this was the only film she made in which she received an onscreen spanking, much to the chagrin of June Lang who played the spanker and feared that her career would suffer as a result of the audience seeing the popular Shirley being treated in this fashion. The scene was shot but cut from the final film. See more »
Surprisingly great John Ford film starring Shirley Temple. I was unsure if I could stand her cuteness for an hour and forty minutes, but I was never as annoyed as I expected to be. She's actually quite - good (I'll probably never live that down, will I?).Once in a while, she got a bit cloying, but for the most part I enjoyed her performance. Believe me, though, John Ford and his screenwriter were careful to balance her with the rest of the film, which is indeed quite masterful. All of the other performers are pitch perfect, including C. Aubrey Smith, Cesar Romero, Michael Whalen, Constance Collier, June Lang, and especially Ford regular Victor McLaglen. He's amazing, as always. The story, based on a Rudyard Kipling book, is very good. Lang plays Temple's mother. Her husband has apparently died, and she accepts the gracious invitation of her father-in-law (Smith), a colonel in India, whom she has never met. While there, Temple becomes a sort of a mascot of the soldiers, with Sgt. MacDuff (McLaglen) taking care of her and teaching her how to be a soldier. Another soldier (Whalen) courts Temple's mother. Cesar Romero plays Khoda Khan, a bandit prince who is being held prisoner in the fort. Ford's direction is as exciting as ever, and the cinematography is halfway between the expressionism of The Informer and the naturalism of Stagecoach. The musical score is also quite good. One might object to the colonialist viewpoint of the film, but, to be fair, Wee Willie Winkie is a lot more palatable in that respect than George Stevens' much more famous Gunga Din is. 9/10.
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