Sunday, September 20, 2009

Curly Top (1935)

Edward: "Just suppose the figure of that lovely child should suddenly come to life. Suppose it smiled at you and waved its hand. What would you do?
Genevieve: "I'd call a doctor!"

Order: 8
Year: 1935
Rated: G
Runtime: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Shirley Temple as Elizabeth Blair a.k.a. "Curly Top"
John Boles as Edward Morgan
Rochelle Hudson as Mary Blair
Esther Dale as Aunt Genevieve Graham

Plot: The wealthy chairman of the board of trustees of an orphanage adopts a charming young girl and her older sister under an alias.

I really don't have much to say about Curly Top. Maybe it's because it's everything you'd ever want or need in a Shirley film. Or maybe it's because it's 2 in the morning and I'm feeling uninspired to write. Don't get me wrong, I like Curly Top. It's one of the best in the canon and it certainly brightened my mood after the joyless journey that was Our Little Girl.

So far in the canon, Curly Top has had the most musical numbers. I was starting to think I was crazy after I made the claim about the Shirley movies . This is the movie with the other signature Shirley song, "Animal Crackers in My Soup" which little "Curly" sings to her fellow orphans at dinner. Of course, this is also the day when the board of trustees, a group of crusty investors, save for multi-millionaire bachelor Edward Morgan, arrive for their monthly inspection. The trustees are appalled at the lack of discipline. But Mr. Morgan is charmed by little Curly and wishes to adopt her. Curly agrees, but her older sister, Mary denies Mr. Morgan. Technically, Mary has custody of Curly, but is too poor to move out of the orphanage so she works there as a maid. Basically, they're a package deal: Curly can't be adopted unless Mary comes along.

After a night of contemplation, Edward Morgan decides that Mary can come along, but then he creates a false identity, one Mr. Hiram Jones, so the Blair sisters will be unaware that it is he who is providing the better life for them. Why does he do this, you ask? Well, during a schmaltzy and sexually tense scene between Edward and Mary, he explains that Mr. Jones has been looking for someone to love him in spite of his millions of dollars.

Curly Top isn't heavy in conflict. In fact, as soon as Curly is adopted, there is no conflict. Most of the film is made up of scenes showing Curly's adjustment to the sweet life. Oh, and then there's the romance between Mary and Edward that is eventually consummated after is his confession that there is no Hiram Jones. Curly Top is truly a feel good film, and one that isn't bogged down by a lot of emotional drama. Songs, tap dancing, and Shirley's charisma...there isn't much more to ask for.

Featured Songs

  • "Animals Crackers in My Soup" - Shirley Temple
  • "It's All So New to Me" - John Boles
  • "The Simple Things in Life" - Rochelle Hudson
  • "When I Grow Up" - Shirley Temple (Later reprised by Arthur Treacher, Billy Gilbert, and Esther Dale)
  • "Curly Top" - John Boles

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