A group of soldiers in a café watch a dancer as she entertains them, but later two of them become rivals over her.A group of soldiers in a café watch a dancer as she entertains them, but later two of them become rivals over her.A group of soldiers in a café watch a dancer as she entertains them, but later two of them become rivals over her.
The movie is a stark illustration of some of the difference between 1930s society and today's, as this film would not have the slightest chance of getting made in the 21st Century, and I like to see that I'm not the only person who's glad for that. Nonetheless, it seems that her appearance in this film, as well as the three that she appeared in previous to it, played a significant part in the explosion of her career as a child actor. Here's this girl who started acting at age four, stopped before her 20th birthday, and there she is appearing in all manner of glamorousness at the 1998 Academy Awards, four decades after her last performance as an actress.
The extent of her popularity and success is clearly apparent, but this movie is more of a look at how differently movies were made in the 1930s as opposed to today, rather than an enlightening look at what it was about Shirley Temple that made her so tremendously popular. It seems clear that War Babies was an unintelligent film that exploited what must have been Temple's staggering cuteness. I can certainly understand that, because I have a sister who is 5 years old and she absolutely floors me, but the thought of her dancing around like Shirley does in this movie is not cute in the slightest. What is probably most odd about this movie is that all of the parents of the kids that appeared in it probably absolutely loved it.
I imagine that not many of these parents are around anymore, so sadly it becomes all the more apparent as to why the film has such a small audience, and its obscurity I don't think can be chalked up entirely to the fact that it is more than 70 years old. Normally I am bothered by the fact that there are so many people in today's audience that refuse to watch older movies, simply because they are black and white. Imagine someone refusing to watch Schindler's List because it wasn't in color. Unbelievable. In this case, however, I don't find it upsetting in the least that this movie has become so rarely seen, because a movie that features a scene as disturbing as the finale of this one (in which a little boy holds up an over-sized bobby-pin, making a genuinely disturbing implication to another little boy) is not exactly a classic not to be overlooked.
Quite the contrary. Overlook at will.
- Jan 6, 2005