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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 3,955 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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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?


Mary Nash's costumes from Heidi (1937) were recycled for this film. 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 »


Remade as Principessina (1943) See more »


Rule Britannia
(1740) (uncredited)
Music by Thomas Augustine Arne
Played often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

You won't regret it.
21 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

While American audiences loved this and all the other Shirley Temple vehicles, across the Pond this story of a young girl refusing to accept reports of her father's death in combat must have struck a responsive chord with war-weary Brits who could easily identify with her troubles. Although the Hollywood film industry has always come under some well-deserved criticism for twisting history and other literary sources in its screenplays, they do get it right at times. The largely British cast and English setting give the classic story the right look and feel, and the romance and song-and-dance numbers don't take anything away from the main storyline. Shirley is even reunited with some of her co-stars from other films. (This includes Cesar Romero as a servant here. 8 of his next 11 films were westerns, a genre he'd never tackled, including a pairing with Randolph Scott as Doc Holliday to Scott's Wyatt Earp and a starring role in a handful of Cisco Kid features. Much later would come famous movie and TV roles as Kurt Russell's nemesis A.J. Arno in several Disney comedies in the 70's, and his most famous part, the Joker, in BATMAN.) In a year when so many great films appeared that were taken from the pages of popular books (GONE WITH THE WIND, THE WIZARD OF OZ, THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME,GUNGA DIN, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS,THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, TARZAN FINDS A SON, THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK) you can add THE LITTLE PRINCESS. If you never get to read any or all of these books, at least watch the films derived from them. You won't regret it. Dale Roloff

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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