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Young People (1940)
A possible first?
This is certainly not a bad film if one accepts the fact that Shirley is growing up. There is a predictability to it, for sure but can anyone deny the all-the-more-so predictability of every Astair-Rogers film? We still love them, don't we? Young People suffers from a mediocrity that gives it a feel of a second rate Andy Hardy film, but it has a way of growing on you. My daughter and wife occasionally can be heard humming "5th Avenue" a very catchy number from the film.
I wonder if anyone out there noticed the scene when Shirley, reading the paper in the parlor, points out casually to her parents that an old show biz acquaintance is going to appear on "television"! This may be the first time the new (very very new) medium is mentioned in a "throw-out" line. Any comments?
The Littlest Rebel (1935)
good story, suspense, heartwarming. Shirley is a wow
I just finished watching this film with my 7 year old daughter and I am utterly astonished at this young girls gifts. Being a "Mr. Mom", I have come to know what a little girl is capable of, mine as well as neighborhood children, and I can say that young Shirley was far more than just exceptional in many ways. This film certainly puts her to the test and she comes through with flying colors. Her beauty is captivating and her natural charm is startling. Her line delivery is perfect. When faced with bad news, watch as she slowly girds herself to receive it. It's as though she truly believes it herself and cannot contain her emotions. When tears finally fly, it's hard to not want to reach through the screen and comfort her, especially when she is pleading her case to President Lincoln.
As a professional musician I am astonished at her near perfect execution of complex syncopated dance routines with Bill Robinson. It is evident that she is really having fun during these numbers and surely was an attentive student. When she sings, her voice, although not a trained voice (thank goodness) is right on pitch. It is a natural, pleasant voice, free of any coaching. She really sings the lyric, (something that most "pro" singers could stand a lesson in) and not just the song. I never really stopped to listen to "Believe me if all these endearing young charms" but her non-treatment forced me to hear it. It's a very touching song.
How I would enjoy a chat with her to pick her brain. She really was a "perfect storm" as child stars go and I will certainly be screening more of her films....for my...AHEM...daughter, of course.