When her father, Captain Crewe, goes off to fight in the Boer War, young Sara Crewe is placed into the care of Amanda Minchin, the head of an exclusive private school for girls. Sara lives a wonderful life of a privileged child and is quite happy in her surroundings. When her father is listed as missing in action however, her life goes from one of plenty to that of a poor house maid. Mrs. Minchin agrees to keep her on at the school, but in the absence of her tuition payments, she has to work for her keep. She is soon cleaning out the fireplace and scrubbing floors and is dubbed the little princess by her former schoolmates. She also refuses to accept that her father is dead and prowls the hospitals in the hope of locating him. Luck - and Royal intervention - assist her in her quest.Written by
The reason Shirley Temple hadn't made a movie in Technicolor until this one was that the Technicolor company insisted that 1,000 foot-candle lights be used to get proper exposure on its film. These incredibly bright lights produced so much heat that the studio thought a child Temple's age would be hurt working under such conditions. So, with the cooperation of the Technicolor company, cinematographer Arthur C. Miller worked on a series of tests using lower levels of light, and finally discovered that 400 to 500 foot-candle lights would produce a satisfactory Technicolor image without generating the kind of heat that could injure Temple and the other children in the cast. Technicolor used a new high-speed film for this picture's trailer. This new film went on to be used for Gone with the Wind (1939). See more »
During Sara's party, Ms. Minchin is called away. The scene cuts to her in her office then back to the party where Sara is blowing out her candles. While she is making her wish, we can see Ms. Minchin walking away in the back. See more »
Why are they sending so many soldiers, daddy, if it's only going to be a little war?
To make those stubborn Boers take us seriously this time, my darling. When they realize Her Majesty intends to put a stop to their nonsense, they'll quiet down.
They'd better. Anyhow, when you get there, you'll stop them. Won't you, daddy?
I'll do my best, dear.
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Between the ages of 7 and 10, little Shirley Temple was the biggest box office star in the world. But as she grew older, her popularity quickly began to wane. At 11 (though she believed herself to be 10 because her mother shaved a year off her age), Shirley was still quite a child when she made "The Little Princess." But because she was no longer as cute and cherubic as she was at 6, when "Stand Up and Cheer!" first made her a star, it was to be her last successful film in a children's role.
As Sara (a Hebrew name meaning "princess"), Shirley plays her standard rags-to-riches storyline in reverse: Sara's wealthy widowed father loses everything in the Boer War, and her cruel boarding school headmistress Miss Minchin makes her an underfed, overworked servant girl to pay the tuition debt her father owed. Sara goes from luxurious rooms and private tutors to friendless, freezing attics as suddenly as the swinging America of the 1920s sank into the dust storms, breadlines, and squattervilles of the 1930's Great Depression. But where did poor Americans turn to briefly forget all these problems during the Great Depression? To the movies, where Shirley Temple, her unwavering hopefulness (as present in "The Little Princess" as in any of her movies), and her cute song-and-dance numbers -- with titles like "Laugh, You Son of a Gun" (1934), "You Gotta Smile to be Happy" (1936), "Be Optimistic" (1938), and "Come and Get Your Happiness" (1938) -- cheered up the entire nation. The same singing and dancing cheers up Sara Crewe while she's working as a galley slave in 1899 London, as Shirley performs "The Old Kent Road" with her pal Arthur Treacher (her four-time co-star).
In short, "The Little Princess" is Shirley Temple's career in a nutshell. It is a must-see film for both longtime Shirley fans and newcomers.
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