Poor Little Rich Girl (1936 film)
|Poor Little Rich Girl|
|Directed by||Irving Cummings|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Screenplay by||Sam Hellman
|Story by||Eleanor Gates
|Music by||Mack Gordon
|Cinematography||John F. Seitz|
|Editing by||Jack Murray|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||79 minutes|
Poor Little Rich Girl, advertised as The Poor Little Rich Girl, is a 1936 American musical film directed by Irving Cummings. The screenplay by Sam Hellman, Gladys Lehman, and Harry Tugend was based on stories by Eleanor Gates and Ralph Spence, and on the 1917 Mary Pickford vehicle of the same name. The film focuses on a child (Temple) neglected by her rich and busy father who meets two vaudeville performers and becomes a radio singing star. The film received a lukewarm critical reception from The New York Times.
Barbara Barry is the young daughter of wealthy Richard Barry, a recently widowed soap manufacturer. Worried that his daughter is spending too much time alone and not with other children her age, her father decides to send Barbara to boarding school. At the train station, Barbara and her accompanying nanny are separated when the nanny is hit by a car while dealing with a porter handling their bags. Barbara, left alone, wanders off and masquerades as an orphan. While wandering the streets, she encounters a friendly Italian street performer, Tony, the organ grinder. Barbara follows him home after his performance. She witnesses his many children run out to meet him at the door. Barbara lingers, lonely and sad. Being as kind and friendly as they are, they invite Barbara in. She has dinner with them, where she experiences eating spaghetti for the first time. After dinner, the mother puts her to bed with her other children. She attracts the notice of two vaudeville performers, Jimmy Dolan and his wife, Jerry, who put her in their radio act, posing as their daughter. With the help of advertising executive Margaret Allen, the trio become an overnight success. Barry hears his daughter on the radio and the two are reunited. Subplots involve a romance between Barry and Allen, and a crook trying to kidnap Barbara.
- Shirley Temple as Barbara Barry, Richard Barry's daughter
- Michael Whalen as Richard Barry, a widower, Barbara's father, and a soap manufacturer
- Jack Haley as Jimmy Dolan, a vaudeville performer and Jerry's husband
- Alice Faye as Jerry Dolan, a vaudeville performer and Jimmy Dolan's wife
- Gloria Stuart as Margaret Allen, an advertising executive
- Claude Gillingwater, as Peck, Barry's competitor in soap manufacturing
- Sara Haden as Collins, a servant in the Barry home
- Jane Darwell as Woodward, a servant in the Barry home
- Arthur Hoyt as Percival Hooch, Peck's assistant
- Henry Armetta as Tony, the organ grinder
- Tony Martin as Radio Baritone Soloist (uncredited)
The film’s tacked-on musical number, “Military Man”, was a little fast and intricate for Temple. Without telling Mrs. Temple, the studio called back Haley and Faye to repeat the number with Temple‘s taps dubbed in. At the preview, Mrs. Temple boasted of her daughter’s clear taps, and scorned those who said the girl couldn’t do it (Windeler 171).
While Mrs. Temple was being interviewed on the set, Shirley strolled over and asked the reporter, "Why don't you talk to me? I'm the star." (Edwards 95).
Mack Gordon and Harry Revel wrote the film’s songs: “When I’m with You”, “Oh My Goodness”. You’ve Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby”, “But Definitely”, “Buy a Bar of Barry's”, “Military Man”, and “Peck’s Theme”. Shirley Temple sang all the songs and was joined by other cast members for several.
Frank Nugent of The New York Times described the script as “formless and generally ridiculous” and the picture “virtually non-existent” but “as a display window for the ever-expanding Temple talents, it is entirely satisfying. Miss Temple, as some one has said, never looked lovelier. She dances in a manner which must delight her mentor, Bill Robinson; her voice has begun to take on torch-singer and crooner qualities. Beneath the fascinated gaze of a world-wide audience, a conscious artistry is developing along Hollywood and Broadway lines. It is an engrossing phenomenon: The precocious infant becomes a knowing child.” He lamented on behalf of Haley and Faye: “Short of becoming a defeated candidate for Vice President, we can think of no better way of guaranteeing one’s anonymity than appearing in the moppet’s films.” 
- Works cited
- Edwards, Anne (1988), Shirley Temple: American Princess, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
- Windeler, Robert (1992) , The Films of Shirley Temple, New York: Carol Publishing Group, ISBN 0-8065-0725-X
- Web citations
- "Miss Temple's Latest, 'The Poor Little Rich Girl,' Moves Into the Radio City Music Hall.". The New York Times. 1936-06-28. Retrieved 2011-04-13.