WARNING! Spoiler - although this is a 1938 comedy with a fairly predictable happy ending.
Starring a 12-year old Jane Withers (Josephine the Plumber in a series of memorable TV ads in the 50s and 60s) who insists on being called Gerry and not Geraldine, the film opens with Gerry instructing the butler Rogers (Arthur Treacher - who gets high billing but has disappointingly little screen time) in the fine art of splits - a knife throwing game rather like mumbledypeg only a bit more dangerous. This sets up two key elements of the story - a nouveau riche family a bit too "stuffy" for tomboy Gerry's liking and Gerry's precocious ability to manipulate adults into cooperating in her ideas about having fun or doing good.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around a series of Gerry's little plots which by turns cause troubles and then solve them. When the family - Gerry, her older sister Virginia, her mother, and her father's brother Uncle Ed, but with her father being impersonated by one of his clerks - shipwrecks on an apparently deserted island, Gerry enlists the handsome young clerk Pete in a plan to use their Swiss Family Robinson circumstances to remind her family of their life before wealth and servants.
This plan seems to fail when they find a house on the island and then a gang of kidnappers arrives. But, while preparing dinner for the kidnappers, Gerry's mother (Nana Bryant) and Uncle Ed (Eddie Collins) do recall fondly how much everyone enjoyed her cooking and how much impromptu entertaining they did in the good old days before they were rich.
At this point, Gerry's shenanigans, aimed at discomfitting the kidnappers, begin to remind one a bit of The Ransom of Red Chief. Meanwhile, we have a budding romance between the clerk (Robert Kellard) and the older sister (Jean Rogers - whom you might recall from the Flash Gordon serials) also egged on by Gerry.
For the mandatory happy ending, the father (Andrew Tombes) arrives by seaplane with the US Navy and the kidnappers are arrested, Virginia falls in love with Pete, and Pete delivers a sound spanking to Gerry who interrupts her screams of protest for a smile and a wink to let us know that everything worked out according to her plans after all.
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