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Jane is the Queen of the Gypsies, Gyp, Gyp, Gyp, Gyp, Gyp Gypsies.....

5/10
Author: mark.waltz from United States
16 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Somehow forgotten in the shuffle of child stars is perky Jane Withers, best remembered for being bratty to Shirley Temple in "Bright Eyes" and being spokesperson for a powdered cleaner. She wasn't a Curly Sue sweetie like Shirley and didn't have the vulnerability of Judy Garland, but there's something unique about her in the few of her films I've seen from her early days. A bit chunky with a slight speech impediment, Withers was a surprisingly mature young girl who wasn't as cloying as her former screen rival could be and was actually a pretty good dancer. Here, she's a sort of Gypsy princess or mascot, the good will ambassador who is sort of everybody's surrogate daughter or little sister, willing to break out into song and dance the moment she sees that somebody needs some cheering up.

It's during the middle of one of her performances where a sequin dressed woman walks into their midst and promptly passes out, rolling down a hill. Afraid of the arriving police, the gypsies hide the young lady (Rochelle Hudson) in their caravan, unaware that somewhere out in high society, her wealthy but social climbing parents are desperately trying to find her so she can marry an impoverished European nobleman. You see, titles matter even if the cash flow is missing, and as Hudson gets better, she begins to fall in love with an honorary Gypsy prince (Robert Wilcox), making a major enemy of a spitfire gypsy whom she ends up in a hair-pulling contest with. But Hudson has other physical problems and an operation the gypsies raise money for her threatens to make her remember her own past and forget about them.

While 20th Century Fox sent Shirley Temple to Sunnybrook Farm in 1938 and made her "Little Miss Broadway", Jane Withers got to be much more mature in her film which was more for adults than Ms. Temple's family fare. One dance number has her going up and down giant drums (although they are not nearly as big as Eleanor Powell's in MGM's "Rosalie") and a huge production number, "Song Of A Gypsy Band" where they invade a high class nightclub and pretty much take over. One thing struck me about this as compared to Shirley Temple's films was how violent this was, especially the fight between the two women and the knife-clenching gypsy played by none other than Borrah Minevitch.

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