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This might be the best of all the Shirley Temple movies of the 1930s
because its so interesting start-to-finish.
The only annoying person is Edna May Oliver, who plays the standard mean old lady who is out to ruin things for the ""good guys" Fortunately, she's not in a lot of scenes and eventually even changes her thoughts for the better.
The rest of the film is nothing but nice people who are a lot of fun to watch. George Murphy and Phyllis Brooks are the typical (for Temple movies) super nice, handsome young couple which gets together in the end.
Edward Ellis plays a nice old man and Donald Meek nearly steals the show with some funny lines and funny faces. I thought James Durante would be funny, but he had more of a straight than comedic role.
Other features which make this movie stand out from normal Temple fare were unique characters (midgets, twins, penguins and more) and a tremendous amount of songs and dances (much more than normally heard).
All the elements that made Shirley Temple's films so successful are rolled up into this movie. Great stuff!
"Little Miss Broadway" (20th Century-Fox, 1938), directed by Irving
Cummings, presents popular child star Shirley Temple in a showbiz
background story ranking one of the most musical of all her movies thus
far. Not precisely a backstage musical in the typical sense of the
1930s bearing "Broadway" in the title, but a movie by which almost
every other scene includes singing and dancing, and with a handful of
fine tunes, the plot nearly becomes secondary.
The story opens in the auditorium of the Madrey Orphanage for Girls where the talented Betsy Brown (Shirley Temple) leads the quartet singing an optimistic song to an audience of cheerful little orphans. Moments later, Miss Hutchins (Jane Darwell), matron of the orphanage, announces that Betsy is leaving to go live with William J. "Pop" Shea (Edward Ellis), a close friend of her deceased parents, and his daughter, Barbara (Phyllis Brooks). Now a resident of the Hotel Variety in New York City, Betsy finds herself happily surrounded by a handful of unemployed vaudevillians living under the generosity of "Pop" Shea, who manages the place. Living across the street is the middle-aged grouch named Sara Wendling (Edna May Oliver), landlord of the Hotel Variety who detests both show people and loud noise, and intends to close down the hotel unless Shea comes up with the full payment of back rent. In order to help out, Betsy pleas with Miss Wendling, better known to her as "the old pumpkin," but to no avail. She does, however, succeed in charming Wendling's brother, Willoughby (Donald Meek), and her song and dance man nephew, Roger (George Murphy). Complications follow leading the actors to show off their musical talent in the courtroom s preceded by an old but lovable judge (Claude Gillingwater Sr.).
With music and lyrics by Walter Bullock and Harold Spina, the musical program includes: "Be Optimistic" (sung by Shirley Temple and the Brewster Twins); "Auld Lang Syne" (traditional New Year's Eve song); "How Can I Thank You?" (sung by Temple to Phyllis Brooks); "We Should Be Together" (sung and danced by George Murphy and Temple); "If All the World Were Paper" (sung by Temple); "When You Were Sweet 16" (by James Thornton); "Happy Birthday to You," "How Can I Thank You?" (reprise); "Be Optimistic" (reprise); "Thank You for the Use of the Hall" (sung by Temple); "I'll Take the High Road and You'll Take the Low Road" (traditional Scottish song); "Swing Me and Old-Fashioned Song," and "Little Miss Broadway"/ "I'll Build a Broadway for You" (sung and danced by Temple and Murphy).
The supporting cast features the likes of Jimmy Durante as Jimmy Clayton, leader of a swing band consisting of Eddie Collins, Syd Saylor, Jerry Colonna and Heinie Conklin; El Brendel as Ole, owner of a talented penguin; George Barbier as Mr. Fiske; George and Ella Brosno, a midget couple; The Brian Sisters, among many others. With a handful of fine character and veteran actors, many don't appear on screen long enough to make their performances count. Compared to others it appears that Jimmy Durante, one of the most notable and recognizable entertainers, to be regrettably the one whose has become the victim of severe editing. He's there but hardly shares any scenes opposite Temple, and in the finished product, he doesn't even get to sing nor dance in the popular Durante tradition. All this has been revealed when American Movie Classics presented one of its well constructed documentaries around 1997 titled, "Hidden Hollywood, From the Vaults of 20th Century-Fox," showcasing deleted scenes from Fox films, especially "Little Miss Broadway", many involving Durante, especially the Durante and Temple show-stopper, "Hop, Skip and Jump." How much more of Durante was filmed and scrapped is uncertain, but the reason given is so not to take away any attention from Temple. It has always been evident that "Little Miss Broadway" was originally intended to be a much longer film, around 85 minutes or so, since everything happens and ends so quickly.
"Little Miss Broadway" plays like an MGM film, especially those annual "Broadway Melody" musicals since singing and dancing takes more precedence in the story rather than on the stage. George Murphy, on loan from MGM, whose "We Should Be Together" dance number opposite Temple is reminiscent to her fancy footwork opposite Buddy Ebsen from "Captain January" (1936), where they do their fancy footwork ranging from floor to table tops. As the story goes, Murphy plays a nice guy and romantic interest to Shea's attractive daughter (Brooks). Edna May (misspelled Mae in the credits) Oliver, another resident MGM character actress, makes a fine villain, but in spite of her meanness, succeeds in making her nasty character lovable.
"Little Miss Broadway", which was distributed on video cassette in either the black and white and colorized format, played on numerous cable stations over the years, such as The Disney Channel in the early 1990s, American Movie Classics (1996-2001), and both Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: July 13, 2015) in original black and white format.
"Little Miss Broadway" may not work well to those with lack of patience or understanding towards movie musicals such as this, but standard to enjoyable by those familiar with the Temple formula: young orphan makes good. An ordinary musical at best highlighted by some lavish dance numbers credited to Geneva Sawyer and Nick Castle, ranking this a very optimistic film. Oh my goodness! (***)
Being this the very first Shirley Temple movie I've ever seen, I must
say it's my favorite. Shirley gives a great performance singing and
dancing in all her numbers! And that one we can really call "musical".
On the other ones we can see only one or two scenes with singing and
dancing, but at this one you can see singing and dancing almost all the
Shirley's an optimistic orphan who is adopted by a Vaudeville hotel "owner" and his daughter. She meets a guy (George Murphy, who is FABULOUS dancing with Shirley on the number "We Should be Together") trying to convince his aunt (Edna May Oliver, the real owner) to not close the hotel.
Shirley looks so sweet in that movie, in all her numbers -- especially in "If the world was a paper", "We should be together" and "Little Miss Broadway".
Anyway, this is a very enjoyable movie. Anyone who watches it can enjoy not just Shirley's performances but almost everything in the movie: the story, the characters, the songs, the dancing and so on. A heartwarming movie starring one of the sweetest Child-Stars of all the time with fabulous co-stars. A family movie that can be watched by children, adults and even teenagers and old people.
An orphaned Shirley is adopted by an elderly man and his daughter who
run a hotel for "Entertainers", however when the rent is past due, the
grumpy wealthy landlady who lives next door, tries to have the hotel
closed. When that attempt fails, she has Shirley sent back to the
orphanage, because of the " unwholesome " atmosphere at the hotel. But
fear not, it IS a Shirley movie---it always works out!
I think this is an adorable movie. It's hard to grasp the reality of how YOUNG Shirley was when she did these films. To be so talented at such a young age! The story is cute, with a probably predictable ending, but the characters stand out and keep your interest. And watching Shirley dance to " We Belong Together " with George Murphy always makes me smile. Edna Oliver is PERFECT as a cantankerous IL' landlady. The film clearly isn't an Oscar winner, but if you enjoy good, wholesome entertainment without all the sex, violence and fowl language, you will LOVE this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought this movie was funny as well as entertaining! I loved the
part where Shirley and George Murphy were in a quiet room and Shirley
made a huge bang by blowing into a bag, held it and popped it!!!!
Shirley's routine with George was excellent. The only prob I have with this one is the ending cuts short. One minute she's saving the hotel the next George and Phillis Brooks ( Shirley's sister)are getting married!! A lot of other Shirley film actors are in this- Jane Darwell from Bright Eyes, Poor Little Rich Girl, Curly Top (my favourite Shirley movie). Phillis Brooks from Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm. Claude Gillingwater from Poor Little Rich Girl. I give this movie 9.5/10.
What a spectacular Shirley Temple movie I have chosen to see. It is
entitled "Little Miss Broadway." I have been, for long, a big lover of
That is especially true for those with little Shirley Temple. She has adored audiences worldwide with her singing, acting, and tap-dancing in the films.
This is one of those rare movies that I would automatically give the number 10 to. It has an array of great songs such as the title. Shirley opens her act with the song "Be Optimistic." That is one of those songs where you can learn a life lesson.
"Little Miss Broadway" -- the song and the film itself -- are indeed heartwarming. That is rare for a musical show or film. Since it is a 1930s filmusical with Shirley Temple, I'd say it is right up there with the rest.
Orphaned Betsy Brown is sent to live in a New York City
theatrical boarding hotel and quickly becomes involved in
struggle to keep the sour old landlady from closing down
establishment. By starring as LITTLE MISS BROADWAY in a
show staged in a judge's courtroom, the moppet hopes to
the verdict in her friends' favor.
Shirley Temple shines in this pleasant musical comedy. Her youthful spunk and astonishing talent are very much on display. As her leading man, dancer George Murphy is elegant & charming, just what the audience expects from Shirley's knight errant. Murphy's flirtation with Phyllis Brooks is dull stuff; we can't wait for him to dance again with Miss Temple.
Along with Murphy, Shirley faces unusually stiff competition from the comics & character actors involved in this film. The inimitable Edna May Oliver is the villainess here, and she doesn't care a fig for the feelings of the little girl; diminutive Donald Meek is her brother who longs for an adventurous theatrical life.
The great Jimmy Durante brings his own brand of insanity to the proceedings as a band leader; it's almost criminal that he's given so little screen time with Shirley. Dialect comedian El Brendel has some funny moments and gets to interact with a peculiar penguin. That's Jerry Colonna as one of the band members.
Jane Darwell is sweet, as always, in her matronly role as the orphanage director - she would appear in several Temple films in similar roles. Old Claude Gillingwater has fun with his role as the sympathetic judge. George & Olive Brasno, two of Hollywood's famous Little People, appear as themselves.
Movie mavens will spot an unbilled Dick Elliott as a cheerful cellist.
Shirley warbles `Be Optimistic,' `How Can I Thank You?' & `If All The World Were Paper;' Murphy joins her in singing & dancing through `We Should Be Together' & `Little Miss Broadway.'
Little Miss Broadway is a very enjoyable movie musical format in miniature with bright,bouncy tunes,a plot that moves with light touches of comedy,sentiment and slight conflicts..All the main characters perform solidly,but THE main sharply etched brilliant performance belongs to Edna May Oliver...when I was a child,I was at first repelled by her "mean old pumpkin" ways...OH! but to look closer as one grows older..WOW! What subtle hysterical faces and brilliance beneath that unique face and her ever so subtle softness of heart which peeks out more and more towards the end..She truly stands out..such a marvelous artist!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although most of the Shirley Temple movies were quite formulaic, most
of them had a great deal of charm, and this is probably one of the
better ones. One of the things that makes many of the Temple films so
great are the supporting casts, and this one has a great cast.
Shirley is a tad older here, but still bubbly, although this one doesn't have quite the classic songs that many of the films did. Here she plays an orphan that ends up living with an adoptive family in a show biz hotel. Of course, there is a threat to take Shirley away...that's to be expected.
Edward Ellis is very pleasant as "Pop" and manager of the hotel.
Edna May Oliver plays the bad "guy" who wants to shut down the hotel and have Shirley returned to the orphanage. If there's anything that doesn't work about this film, it's Oliver. She's simply too lovable to not come around and be an old softie. You know it's coming from the very beginning. Oliver has shined in practically every film she every appeared in -- she was a great scene stealer.
Donald Meek, another wonderful character actor, shines here in a role that is just a little bigger than usual, here as the brother of Oliver.
George Murphy proves once again that he was a pretty good hoofer and could play roles that were very sympathetic. Here he plays the bridge between his aunt (Oliver) and Temple's family.
Jimmy Durante shines as a Broadway trooper with a big heart. Jane Darwell is here as the head of the orphanage. And the wonderful Claude Gillingwater plays the judge.
Corny, of course. Heartwarming, of course. And just one more example that Shirley Temple could do what no other child actor ever could before or since. Try watching this film and not find yourself smiling.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Cynical New Yorkers must have rolled their eyes to see the glamorous
art deco court room featured in the climax of this Shirley Temple
vehicle which turns Chambers Street into 42nd Street when tap-dancing
George Murphy goes up against his pickle-pussed aunt (Edna May Oliver)
to keep a hotel for actors which they own open. Temple starts off this
charming comedy with a few musical numbers by singing "Be Optimistic".
Of course, she's got a lot to be optimistic about. She's been adopted
by the old man who runs the hotel (Edward Ellis) and his pretty
daughter (Phyllis Brooks), not realizing that the crabby old pumpkin
next door (Oliver) is furious over bandleader Jimmy Durante's constant
interruptions of her desire for quiet and decides to demand the back
rent building renter Ellis owes.
It's obvious from the start that Oliver's crabby old bat is really a big pile of mush hidden under that fabulous horse face. She threatens to steal the picture just by her name in the title, and her comic genius is evident when she visits the hotel and is visited by a marching penguin and various acrobatic acts. Donald Meek comes close second as her milquetoast brother who secretly performs on the side and stands up to a butler who reports everything to his bossy sister. When he breaks out in a fight dance, it is one of those delicious moments of visual comedy that proved that the character performers were often better than the stars.
For one of the few times in his career, "Swedish" comic El Brendel is unobtrusive, commenting on the action with the aforementioned penguin who basically makes his presence in the film more tolerable than his early talkie appearances in the Fox musicals. The musical finale towards the end is of course outrageously ostentatious, turning a courtroom into the equivalent of a Mickey/Judy barn! The reactions from Claude Gillingwater as the judge is worth the price of admission alone, and of course, he applauds with his gavel. One of the oddest bloopers in film history appears in this sequence which shows George Murphy plain as day sitting in the court room in a suit watching Shirley perform, then magically re-appearing moments later swinging open the courtroom doors in tuxedo and tap-dancing his way back in. This "Little Miss Broadway", of course, never appeared on Broadway, but for post depression and pre-war audiences needing escapism, this didn't matter. Pure entertainment is entertainment, no matter how off the wall it ends up being.
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