Thursday, July 9, 2009

Little Miss Marker (1934)

"Sorrowful" Jones: "So he sneaked her out, eh? Serves me right. Every time I get big hearted–"
Regret: "When was the other time?"

Order: 2
Rated: NR
Runtime: 1 hour, 19 minutes

Shirley Temple as Marthy Jane a.k.a. "Marky"
Adolph Menjou as "Sorrowful" Jones
Dorothy Dell as Bangles Carson
Charles Bickford as Big Steve Halloway

Plot: A jaded bookie and a cabaret singer wind up as reluctant parental figures after a young girl is left as a marker at a horse track.

Little Miss Marker is a vast improvement from Stand Up and Cheer! in nearly every possible way. Here, the true Shirley formula has begun: a young orphan (or at least motherless) Shirley touches the heart of a few undesirable folks with her innocence and talent.

Little Miss Marker, along with movie #4, Now and Forever, were both produced by Paramount Pictures early in Shirley’s career. I’m not completely sure as to why Shirley was loaned to Paramount for two movies. (Maybe if I was a good little film student and read her autobiography I would know). It doesn’t make a difference, Little Miss Marker wasn’t really any different from any of the other movies Shirley would make in the future.

The plot of this movie is a tad barbaric: a gambling addict leaves his child at a horse track as a marker while he goes to find more money. He doesn’t return, so the head bookie takes her home for the evening. The next day, the bookie and his friends learn that the father had committed suicide, leaving the child on their hands. If you’re familiar with the Shirley formula, you may have already guessed that the bookie, one "Sorrowful" Jones, is an old grump who wants nothing of children, women, or love. Of course, in the end, he finds all three.

One interesting thing that I found about Little Miss Marker was Shirley’s character’s transformation. In the beginning, "Marky" is precocious, innocent, and constantly comparing real life to that of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. But as time goes on, and Marky is surrounded by the dregs of society (okay "dregs" is a little harsh, but these people are gamblers, drunks, and tramps...not the best company for impressionable little ladies), she starts to pick up on the rougher side of life and begins to get sour and wisecracking. Bangles Carson, (awesome stage name!), the one woman in this group sees that Marky needs her childhood whimsy returned and organizes a King Arthur party.

At first, Marky thinks the whole thing is childish. Then "her" horse, the Charger is brought out and everything is like new again. This is when things get a little worrisome. The Charger's owner (who also happens to be Bangles' boyfriend and the only external conflict keeping her and Sorrowful apart) appears, making the horse nervous and causing it to throw little Marky. She is rushed to the hospital in desperate need of a blood transfusion, but the only one who matches her type is Big Steve, Bangles' boyfriend.

Of course, in the end, everything is set as right as rain. Marky lives, Big Steve dumps Bangles and leaves her to Sorrowful. Presumably they all live happily ever after. It's a typical Shirley Temple movie ending. The only difference with this film is that it wasn't made by Fox.

Featured Songs
"I’m Just a Black Sheep Who’s Blue" - Dorothy Dell
"Low Down Lullaby" - Dorothy Dell
"Laugh You Son of a Gun" - Dorothy Dell and Shirley Temple
"Sidewalks of New York" - Ensemble
"The Bowery" - Ensemble

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

I didn't particularly care for Stand Up and Cheer but Little Miss Marker was much better.