Saturday, September 12, 2009

Baby Take a Bow (1934)

Kay Ellison: “You couldn’t get away from me if you tried.”
Eddie Ellison: “I tried to hide from you in prison and it was hopeless.”

Order: 3
Year: 1934
Rated: PG (for a frightening scene)
Runtime: 1 hour, 16 minutes

Shirley Temple as Shirley Ellison
James Dunn as Eddie Ellison
Claire Trevor as Kay Ellison
Alan Dinehart as Detective Welch

Plot: An ex-con, who has long since gone straight and started a family, is accused of stealing a pearl necklace from his employer which complicates further after an old pal gives the necklace to his daughter.

Baby Take a Bow was never really one of my favorites. Maybe it's the lack of songs, maybe it's the very prolonged game of hide and seek. Whatever the reason, this movie just doesn't leave me with that fuzzy feeling inside. Although it does have its merits, but they all have to do with Shirley's parents.

First of all, Baby Take a Bow is the only Shirley movie (that I can think of right now) where both of her parents are alive. This may not sound like much, but let me warn you right now, dear readers, that no actor has been orphaned more than Shirley Temple. In the future, if there's a scene with our little star smiling and singing with both her parents, be forewarned that one, if not both of them, will soon kick the bucket.

Secondly, not only are Shirley's parents both alive and well, they are also very happy together. Another forewarning, Shirley likes to play accidental matchmaker. (As seen with Sorrowful Jones and Bangles Carson in Little Miss Marker). If two people, usually acting as surrogate parents for whatever reason, have a little tiff, nothing can bring them together faster than a sweet, singing orphan in need of a mommy and daddy. In the case of Eddie and Kay Ellison, their marriage is tightly held together with no unraveling in sight.

And thirdly, I admire the opening scenes of Baby Take a Bow where Kay is purchasing a ticket to Niagra Falls for her honeymoon with one short detour to Ossining, NY (the location of the infamous Sing-Sing Prison) to pick up her sweetie from the pen. Despite harassment from the sales clerk and Welch, the detective responsible for Eddie's incarceration, Kay stands her ground, unashamed of her future husband. In the case of this movie, Shirley's papa is an ex-con. Of course, we never discover his actual crime but one can only assume it was robbery. Young Shirley could never spring forth from the loins of a murderer. I'm very impressed that Hollywood at that point in time would tell the tale of how a criminal could see the path of righteousness and become a good husband and father. Not only is Shirley's father (played by James Dunn, once again) fully redeemed, a friend of his also gets out of Sing-Sing and becomes a functioning member of society. It's refreshing, that's all I'm saying.

Still, like I said before, there's just something about Baby Take a Bow that doesn't fully satisfy me. The last half hour consists of a nerve racking (okay, so it's not Mission Impossible, but it's intense for me) scene where Welch is searching casa de Ellison for the missing pearls. First they're in Eddie's pocket, then they're in the coffee pot, then they're in the carpet sweeper...ugh. Call it farcical if you want, it's stressful to me. Over all, Baby Take a Bow (named after James Dunn and Shirley's song in Stand Up and Cheer!) isn't a bad Shirley movie, but it's not particularly good either. As with any movie, you'll have to make an opinion yourself.

Featured Songs
"On Account-a I Love You" - James Dunn and Shirley Temple

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