Rebecca's Uncle Harry leaves her with Aunt Miranda who forbids her to associate with show people. But neighbor Anthony Kent is a talent scout who secretly set it up for her to broadcast. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Lately, I have watched a bunch of Shirley Temple movies. I used to think they were all very schmaltzy, but this isn't always the case. Plus, since she was such a lovable and adorable child, even a bit of schmaltz manages to work. Of the dozen or so Temple films I've seen in the last month, I would place "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" among the very best. And, after over 70 years, it's still very enjoyable.
This film begins with Rebecca being shuttled about by her no-good uncle (William Demarest) from one audition to another. At the final audition, Rebecca wows the producer (Randolph Scott) and sponsor but the dumb assistant (Jack Haley) tells the girl that she was rejected when she really wasn't. At the end of their ropes, the uncle dumps the child on her aunt--an old grouch living at Sunnybrook Farm. The aunt is happy to take the child and Rebecca soon endears herself to everyone (big surprise). In a coincidence you'll only see in movies, her new neighbor happens to be the producer--who has been frantically searching for the child for his show. But, when he eventually discovers who she is, the aunt is not about to let the girl 'ruin her life by going into show business'! What's next? See the film.
While the film has almost nothing to do with the novel "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm", it manages to work very, very well. Much of it is the writing--the script has a nice sense of humor and is better written than normal. In addition, a wonderful supporting cast helps by not placing all the film on the shoulders of little Shirley. In addition to Haley, Demarest and Scott, Gloria Stuart, Slim Summerville and Bill Robinson round out the cast. Overall, a treat--a Shirley Temple film that manages to make you smile and keeps the saccharine level in check. Well worth your time. Plus, it made my wife laugh and smile throughout--a positive statement indeed as she's even more cynical than me when it comes to films.
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