Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938 film)
|Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm|
|Directed by||Allan Dwan|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck
|Screenplay by||Don Ettlinger
|Story by||Kate Douglas Wiggin|
|Music by||Mack Gordon
Sidney D. Mitchell
|Cinematography||Arthur C. Miller|
|Editing by||Allen McNeil|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||80 minutes|
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is a 1938 American musical film directed by Allan Dwan and starring Shirley Temple, Randolph Scott, and Bill Robinson. The screenplay by Don Ettlinger and Karl Tunberg is loosely based on Kate Douglas Wiggin's novel Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. The film tells the story of a talented orphan's trials and tribulations after winning a radio audition to represent a breakfast cereal. Highlights include Temple singing a medley of her hit tunes and dancing with Bill Robinson on a flight of stairs. The film was well received by Variety, and, in 2009, was available on videocassette and DVD.
Rebecca Winstead, a musically talented orphan, is under the guardianship of her stepfather Harry Kipper. She auditions for the radio role of Little Miss America and wins it, but leaves the studio believing she lost it. Kipper regards her as a loser and a burden, and dumps her on the farm of her Aunt Miranda.
Tony Kent, the radio advertising executive who approved Rebecca for the role of Little Miss America, lives next door to Miranda. He recognizes Rebecca, and asks Miranda's permission to feature Rebecca on his radio show. When Aunt Miranda refuses to allow Rebecca to associate with show people, Kent broadcasts secretly from his house with Rebecca joining him on the sly.
Kipper hears Rebecca's broadcast and returns to the farm looking for easy money. As Rebecca's legal guardian, he forces Aunt Miranda to surrender the child. He takes her away from her friends and loved ones to New York City. There, he signs a contract with Kent's competitor Purvis to star Rebecca on another radio show.
When Rebecca suddenly develops laryngitis and cannot sing, Purvis angrily voids the contract. Kipper sells his legal guardianship to Aunt Miranda for $5,000. Rebecca reveals to her friends she feigned hoarseness to free herself from Kipper. The film ends with Rebecca and Aunt Miranda's farm hand Aloysius costumed as toy soldiers performing a dance on a flight on stairs.
Subplots include a romance between Kent and Rebecca's cousin Gwen, another between radio singers Orville and Lola, and the rekindling of an old romance between Aunt Miranda and neighbor Homer Busby.
- Shirley Temple as Rebecca Winstead, a young orphan
- Randolph Scott as Tony Kent, a radio advertising executive
- William Demarest as Harry Kipper, Rebecca's stepfather
- Helen Westley as Miranda, a farm woman and Rebecca's aunt
- Gloria Stuart as Gwen, Rebecca's cousin and Kent's romantic interest
- Bill Robinson as Aloysius, Miranda's farm hand
- Slim Summerville as Homer Busby, Miranda's old sweetheart
- Jack Haley as Orville Smithers, a radio performer
- Phyllis Brooks as Lola Lee, a radio performer
- Alan Dinehart as Purvis, Kent's competitor
- Franklin Pangborn as an organist at a radio station
The opening credits overture is an orchestral arrangement of what appears to be the film's unofficial theme tune by virtue of its several reprises, "An Old Straw Hat" by Harry Revel and Mack Gordon. The tune returns as an abbreviated vocal solo for Rebecca when she auditions at the radio station in the first scene, and returns later as a solo for Rebecca while she picks berries on the farm with Aloysius. In another scene, she sings it over the telephone.
When Rebecca broadcasts from Kent's country home midpoint in the film, she accompanies herself on the piano through a medley that includes "On the Good Ship Lollipop", "Animal Crackers in My Soup", "When I'm with You", "Oh My Goodness", and "Goodnight, My Love" – all Temple hit tunes from previous films. The film ends with Temple and Robinson clad as toy soldiers dancing on a flight of stairs to "The Toy Trumpet" by Raymond Scott, Sidney D. Mitchell and Lew Pollack.
Other tunes in the film include the first scene's "Happy Ending" (Pollack and Mitchell) sung by Phyllis Brooks; "You've Gotta Eat Your Spinach, Baby" (Revel and Gordon) sung comically and never in its entirety by girls auditioning for the radio show in the first scene; "Come and Get Your Happiness" (Pokrass and Yellen) sung by Temple; and "Alone with You" (Pollack and Mitchell) sung by Brooks and Haley. The breakfast cereal's jingle "Crackly Grain Flakes" (Pollack and Mitchell) is sung by a male quartet.
In 2009, the film was available on videocassette and DVD in the black and white original and computer-colorized versions. Some editions had special features and theatrical trailers.
- Edwards, Anne (1988). Shirley Temple: American Princess. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. pp. 113–4.