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Once Upon a Time (1944)

 |  Comedy, Fantasy  |  29 June 1944 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 623 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 10 critic

A cash-strapped theater producer promotes a nine-year-old boy's dancing caterpillar.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Ted Donaldson ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eddie Acuff ...
Shipyard Worker (scenes deleted)
Attendant (scenes deleted)
Lionel Braham ...
Weightlifter (scenes deleted)
George Bruggeman ...
Trapeze Artist (scenes deleted)
Leonard Carey ...
English Bobby (scenes deleted)
Doorman (scenes deleted)
Bill Chaney ...
Call Boy (scenes deleted)
Charles Coleman ...
English Bobby (scenes deleted)
Jeff Donnell ...
Girl from Brooklyn (scenes deleted)
George Eldredge ...
Man (scenes deleted)


Smalltime crookster and showman Jerry Flynn is desperately searching for a new act to promote in order to save him from ruin. He meets a boy on the street who claims to have a dancing caterpillar called Curly. Flynn seizes the opportunity for fame and fortune at Curly's expense. Written by Col Needham <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Fantasy


See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 June 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alexander Hall's Once Upon a Time  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on February 4, 1945 with Ted Donaldson reprising his film role. See more »


Version of Sametka (1967) See more »


Yes Sir, That's My Baby
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Played often throughout the film
See more »

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User Reviews

All Great Stories Begin With......................
11 September 2010 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Cary Grant got to extend his range in Once Upon A Time and at the same time make a family film that was guaranteed box office. Not a bad win-win situation for him.

The extension was having Grant play a not very nice show business producer who is now on his uppers. The theater he built in flush times is now threatened with foreclosure. But the answer just might be in the form of a young kid played by Ted Donaldson with a caterpillar which he keeps in a shoebox who actually gets up dances to the tune of Yes Sir That's My Baby.

This rhythmically endowed caterpillar is for real all right, if only Grant can get the marketing rights to him and make the public believe. After some tries that ended in flops he gets Art Baker who played real life radio news broadcaster Gabriel Heatter to see the caterpillar named Curly and give it the kind of radio plug the New York Sun gave to an editorial answer to Virginia's letter about Santa Claus.

But an offer from Walt Disney to add Curly to his Magic Kingdom now in formation is too good to pass up. But that would involve breaking young Donaldson's heart and also Grant would be running afoul of the young lad's sister, Janet Blair. Can Cary Grant be that big a heel?

Once Upon A Time is a charming fantasy that I'm surprised no one has thought of remaking except the Japanese who did a short subject animated version of this story in the Sixties. I can certainly Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes doing a version of this story, maybe having Justin Bieber play the kid. Instead of Walt Disney they could sell him to Steven Spielberg and a known internet blogger could break the story.

I want some screen credit if someone reads this review and sells the idea to Tom Cruise. Until then this is still a fine family film that holds up well even if people today have no idea who Gabriel Heatter was.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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