6.5/10
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The Blue Bird (1940)

Approved | | Adventure, Comedy, Family | 15 January 1940 (USA)
Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl, a woodchopper's children, are led by the Fairy Berylune on a magical trip through the past, present, and future to locate the Blue Bird of Happiness.

Director:

Walter Lang

Writers:

Maurice Maeterlinck (by), Ernest Pascal (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Shirley Temple ... Mytyl
Spring Byington ... Mummy Tyl
Nigel Bruce ... Mr. Luxury
Gale Sondergaard ... Tylette
Eddie Collins Eddie Collins ... Tylo
Sybil Jason ... Angela Berlingot
Jessie Ralph ... Fairy Berylune
Helen Ericson ... Light
Johnny Russell ... Tyltyl
Laura Hope Crews ... Mrs. Luxury
Russell Hicks ... Daddy Tyl
Cecilia Loftus ... Granny Tyl
Al Shean ... Grandpa Tyl
Leona Roberts ... Mrs. Berlingot
Gene Reynolds ... Studious Boy
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Storyline

Mytyl and her brother Tyltyl, a woodchopper's children, are led by the Fairy Berylune on a magical trip through the past, present, and future to locate the Blue Bird of Happiness.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blue Bird See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

Black and White (first reel)| Color (photographed in) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An under-rated masterpiece. See more »

Goofs

When the group is in the Cemetery, Tylo jumps in the shallow grave instead of falling in. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Tyltyl: [sees the bird] Look, Mytyl! There's one!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits listed in hand turned pages of a book. See more »

Connections

Remade as Mon meilleur Noël: L'oiseau bleu (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Lay Dee O
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by Shirley Temple
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Shirley Temple's Last Child Role
5 July 2000 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

An obnoxious girl, unable to find joy in her life, is sent by an elderly fairy into the Lands of the Past & the Future to seek for THE BLUE BIRD of Happiness. Her search will change her life profoundly...

Fantasy is the most difficult genre for film to create successfully. All the elements have to come together just right, and then, more often than not, success is a happy accident. Fantasy is not replicable; note the number of failed sequels. If 20th Century Fox was trying to emulate MGM's THE WIZARD OF OZ (an initial box office flop, it should be remembered), it was not a wise endeavor. Given its troubled production history, OZ should have been a disaster. That it was not still puzzles & delights film historians.

THE BLUE BIRD's ultimate failure is not complete. There are several very good things about it. The main trouble seems to be in the casting of Shirley Temple in the lead role. The greatest child star of them all was now aging, and prepubescent Shirley seems to depend a bit too much on the gracious memories of her devotees. She's still cute, but this time that's just not enough. Also, it must have been awkward acting such a nasty role, one doomed to be disliked by the audience for much of the film.

Gale Sondergaard, as the Cat, has much the same problem. She tries hard, but the role is very unsympathetic & we are never told why her character is so wicked - indeed, capable of murder.

It's interesting to note that both Temple & Sondergaard were important contenders for major roles in OZ, but were instead rejected for Judy Garland & Margaret Hamilton.

There are several cast members that do an excellent job with their material: Spring Byington, tender as Shirley's mother; wonderful old Jessie Ralph as the fairy; Eddie Collins, often very funny as the Dog; Nigel Bruce & Laura Hope Crews, giving ripe performances as Mister & Mrs. Luxury; and dear Cecilia Loftus & Al Shean as Shirley's lonely, dead grandparents.

Some of the minor casting is also very effective, witness Thurston Hall as Father Time, Edwin Maxwell as Old Man Oak & Sterling Holloway, on screen only a few seconds as Wild Plum. That's Scotty Beckett, from the old OUR GANG Comedies, as one of the Unborn Boys.

The use of Technicolor is very eye-appealing, although its initial entry into the film lacks the dramatic punch produced in OZ. The forest firestorm sequence is very well done & the Unborn Children scenes have genuine pathos.


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