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The Little Princess (1939)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Family  |  17 March 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 3,953 users  
Reviews: 45 user | 13 critic

A little girl is left by her father in an exclusive seminary for girls, due to her father having to go to Africa with the army.


, (uncredited)


(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Little Princess (1939)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Greene ...
Arthur Treacher ...
Sybil Jason ...
Lord Wickham
Marcia Mae Jones ...
Beryl Mercer ...
Deidre Gale ...
Ira Stevens ...
E.E. Clive ...
Eily Malyon ...


When her father, Captain Crewe, goes off to fight in the Boer War, young Sara Crewe is placed into the care of Amanda Minchin, the head of an exclusive private school for girls. Sara lives a wonderful life of a privileged child and is quite happy in her surroundings. When her father is listed as missing in action however, her life goes from one of plenty to that of a poor house maid. Mrs. Minchin agrees to keep her on at the school, but in the absence of her tuition payments, she has to work for her keep. She is soon cleaning out the fireplace and scrubbing floors and is dubbed the little princess by her former schoolmates. She also refuses to accept that her father is dead and prowls the hospitals in the hope of locating him. Luck - and Royal intervention - assist her in her quest. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A great classic comes to life in glorious Technicolor!


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

17 March 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La princesita  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the scene where a parrot flies into Sara's room off of Ram Daz's (Cesar Romero) shoulder, originally a small monkey was to be used. However, the monkey did not seem to like Shirley Temple and kept trying to bite her. So for safety sake, they used a Macaw parrot instead. See more »


In opening scene, the father is referred to as "Captain" but the rank on his shoulder is that of first lieutenant based on the two pips he wears. A captain's rank is three pips. See more »


[first lines]
Sara Crewe: Why are they sending so many soldiers, daddy, if it's only going to be a little war?
Captain Reginald Crewe: To make those stubborn Boers take us seriously this time, my darling. When they realize Her Majesty intends to put a stop to their nonsense, they'll quiet down.
Sara Crewe: They'd better. Anyhow, when you get there, you'll stop them. Won't you, daddy?
Captain Reginald Crewe: I'll do my best, dear.
See more »


Version of The Little Princess (1917) See more »


Wot Cher!
(1891) (uncredited)
aka "Knock'd 'em in the Old Kent Road"
Music by Charles Ingle
Lyrics by Albert Chevalier
Performed by Arthur Treacher and Shirley Temple twice
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Quite Possibly Shirley's Best Ever!
24 May 2006 | by See all my reviews

Between the ages of 7 and 10, little Shirley Temple was the biggest box office star in the world. But as she grew older, her popularity quickly began to wane. At 11 (though she believed herself to be 10 because her mother shaved a year off her age), Shirley was still quite a child when she made "The Little Princess." But because she was no longer as cute and cherubic as she was at 6, when "Stand Up and Cheer!" first made her a star, it was to be her last successful film in a children's role.

As Sara (a Hebrew name meaning "princess"), Shirley plays her standard rags-to-riches storyline in reverse: Sara's wealthy widowed father loses everything in the Boer War, and her cruel boarding school headmistress Miss Minchin makes her an underfed, overworked servant girl to pay the tuition debt her father owed. Sara goes from luxurious rooms and private tutors to friendless, freezing attics as suddenly as the swinging America of the 1920s sank into the dust storms, breadlines, and squattervilles of the 1930's Great Depression. But where did poor Americans turn to briefly forget all these problems during the Great Depression? To the movies, where Shirley Temple, her unwavering hopefulness (as present in "The Little Princess" as in any of her movies), and her cute song-and-dance numbers -- with titles like "Laugh, You Son of a Gun" (1934), "You Gotta Smile to be Happy" (1936), "Be Optimistic" (1938), and "Come and Get Your Happiness" (1938) -- cheered up the entire nation. The same singing and dancing cheers up Sara Crewe while she's working as a galley slave in 1899 London, as Shirley performs "The Old Kent Road" with her pal Arthur Treacher (her four-time co-star).

In short, "The Little Princess" is Shirley Temple's career in a nutshell. It is a must-see film for both longtime Shirley fans and newcomers.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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