Shirley Temple's father, a rebel officer, sneaks back to his rundown plantation to see his family and is arrested. A Yankee takes pity and sets up an escape. Everyone is captured and the ...
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After Southern belle Elizabeth Lloyd runs off to marry Yankee Jack Sherman, her father, a former Confederate colonel during the Civil War, vows to never speak to her again. Several years ... See full summary »
Wealthy Edward Morgan becomes charmed with a curly-haired orphan and her pretty older sister Mary and arranges to adopt both under the alias of "Mr. Jones." As he spends more time with them, he soon finds himself falling in love with Mary.
Eddie Ellison is an ex-con who spent time in Sing-Sing prison. Kay marries him as soon as he serves his time. Five years later, Eddie and his ex-convict buddy Larry, have both gone straight... See full summary »
Priscilla Williams, a young girl living with her widowed mother and paternal grandfather at the post he commands in northern India, becomes enamored of military life and embroiled in brewing rebellion against the crown in the early 1900's.
C. Aubrey Smith
Dimples Appleby lives with the pick-pocket grandfather in 19th century New York City. She entertains the crowds while he works his racket. A rich lady makes it possible for the girl to go legit. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is performed.
Shirley Temple's father, a rebel officer, sneaks back to his rundown plantation to see his family and is arrested. A Yankee takes pity and sets up an escape. Everyone is captured and the officers are to be executed. Shirley and "Bojangles" Robinson beg President Lincoln to intercede.Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
In one scene Shirley Temple disguises herself as a black child using boot polish; a controversial act by modern standards, this was not uncommon in early Hollywood films. See more »
When the Union soldiers are caught looting, the commanding officer orders them to be flogged. The US Army according to the "History of the United States Army" stopped flogging at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861--this scene is obviously later in the war as Union forces are occupying the south. See more »
No, you can't not see the racism here, but the race relations are not simple
The previous review of this movie begins with the question "Can you get past the racism of the era?", and concludes that you can't. I won't argue that you should "get past" the racism. Rather, I'd argue that you need to look right at it and see that it is not simple, and not just a matter of stereotypes.
Yes, Willie Best's character is an embarrassment when it is not infuriating. There's no arguing that.
But Bill Robinson's character is very different. He is the one on whom Mrs. Cary relies when her husband is at war, he is the one who makes it possible for Cary to get back to see his wife as she is dying, etc. He is also the one who makes it possible for he and little Virgie to get to Washington and, eventually, plead her father's case with President Lincoln. In short, he is the character who makes pretty much everything good happen.
Yes, there is injustice in that he should have received higher billing as a result, and he should have been in the final shot with Temple, as he was as important as her father and more important than Jack Holt. That was unfair, and though probably based on what Fox thought American audiences of the time would tolerate, nonetheless a concession to the racism of the time. But for its time, this movie is remarkably devoid of the "dumb and happy darkie" stereotypes of the time that are so infuriating.
Furthermore, little Virgie never once treats "Uncle Bill" as anything less than an equal. Nor do her parents ever treat him disparagingly.
Race relations in this movie are not perfect. But neither are they stereotypes. There is no point on zooming in on Willie Best's character and going through all the modern clichés of moral superiority, only to dismiss it. The movie deserves better than that.
Yes, the dancing by Robinson and Temple is a wonder. But this movie has other things that are worth examination as well.
Forget what you may have been told about this movie and try to watch it with an open mind. You won't waste your time.
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