Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938 film)

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Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Poster of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938 film).jpg
Directed by Allan Dwan
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Raymond Griffith
Screenplay by Don Ettlinger
Karl Tunberg
Story by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Starring Shirley Temple
Randolph Scott
Gloria Stuart
Helen Westley
Bill Robinson
William Demarest
Jack Haley
Music by Mack Gordon
Harry Revel
Lew Pollack
Sidney D. Mitchell
Samuel Pokrass
Jack Yellen
Raymond Scott
Cinematography Arthur C. Miller
Editing by Allen McNeil
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 18, 1938 (1938-03-18)
Running time 80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

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.



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.


Critical reception[edit]

Variety wrote, "The national No. 1 box office star has seldom shone so brilliantly in her singing, dancing and repartee. That means she is going right ahead to bigger and better grosses."[1]

Home media[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edwards, Anne (1988). Shirley Temple: American Princess. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. pp. 113–4. 

External links[edit]