Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl, a woodchopper's children, are led by the Fairy Berylune on a magical trip through the past, present, and future to locate the Blue Bird of Happiness. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
On 24 December 1939, a month before the film premiered, Shirley Temple and Nelson Eddy performed a 30-minute radio adaptation of the play on the Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater, a program adapting popular films with some of Hollywood's biggest stars. It was during this program, according to Ms. Temple's autobiography, that a deranged woman who'd been stalking her managed to get within three feet of the stage with a loaded gun before being stopped and disarmed. Ms. Temple, Mr. Eddy, and the rest of the cast somehow managed to keep their composure through all of this, with the listening audience none the wiser. See more »
When the group is in the Cemetery, Tylo jumps in the shallow grave instead of falling in. See more »
There's something wrong with these children. They must have eaten something last night that disagreed with them.
Well, they look all right to me.
But they've been talking such nonsense! About seeing their grandparents!
But we did, Daddy! We really did!
But we're home now.
And we missed you so!
You mean you're going to miss me when I go to war.
Oh. I had forgotten about that.
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An obnoxious girl, unable to find joy in her life, is sent by an elderly fairy into the Lands of the Past & the Future to seek for THE BLUE BIRD of Happiness. Her search will change her life profoundly...
Fantasy is the most difficult genre for film to create successfully. All the elements have to come together just right, and then, more often than not, success is a happy accident. Fantasy is not replicable; note the number of failed sequels. If 20th Century Fox was trying to emulate MGM's THE WIZARD OF OZ (an initial box office flop, it should be remembered), it was not a wise endeavor. Given its troubled production history, OZ should have been a disaster. That it was not still puzzles & delights film historians.
THE BLUE BIRD's ultimate failure is not complete. There are several very good things about it. The main trouble seems to be in the casting of Shirley Temple in the lead role. The greatest child star of them all was now aging, and prepubescent Shirley seems to depend a bit too much on the gracious memories of her devotees. She's still cute, but this time that's just not enough. Also, it must have been awkward acting such a nasty role, one doomed to be disliked by the audience for much of the film.
Gale Sondergaard, as the Cat, has much the same problem. She tries hard, but the role is very unsympathetic & we are never told why her character is so wicked - indeed, capable of murder.
It's interesting to note that both Temple & Sondergaard were important contenders for major roles in OZ, but were instead rejected for Judy Garland & Margaret Hamilton.
There are several cast members that do an excellent job with their material: Spring Byington, tender as Shirley's mother; wonderful old Jessie Ralph as the fairy; Eddie Collins, often very funny as the Dog; Nigel Bruce & Laura Hope Crews, giving ripe performances as Mister & Mrs. Luxury; and dear Cecilia Loftus & Al Shean as Shirley's lonely, dead grandparents.
Some of the minor casting is also very effective, witness Thurston Hall as Father Time, Edwin Maxwell as Old Man Oak & Sterling Holloway, on screen only a few seconds as Wild Plum. That's Scotty Beckett, from the old OUR GANG Comedies, as one of the Unborn Boys.
The use of Technicolor is very eye-appealing, although its initial entry into the film lacks the dramatic punch produced in OZ. The forest firestorm sequence is very well done & the Unborn Children scenes have genuine pathos.
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