Wealthy Edward Morgan becomes charmed with a curly-haired orphan and her pretty older sister Mary and arranges to adopt both under the alias of "Mr. Jones." As he spends more time with them, he soon finds himself falling in love with Mary.
Shirley Temple ... Elizabeth Blair
John Boles ... Edward Morgan
Rochelle Hudson ... Mary Blair
Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Henrietta Denham
Rafaela Ottiano ... Mrs. Higgins
Esther Dale ... Aunt Genevieve Graham
Etienne Girardot ... Mr. Wyckoff
Arthur Treacher ... Reynolds the Butler
Maurice Murphy ... Jimmie Rogers
This is another solid Shirley Temple film with some wonderful, sweet scenes and lines you certainly wouldn't hear in movies today. For instance: "It's Sunday. Would you like to go to Sunday School? Ohh, I love Sunday School!"
In addition to the innocence, truly nice characters, decent humor and music, what I appreciated was the lack of screen time of the villain. Many movies have some nasty person giving Shirley a hard time. To me, that's uncomfortable, but in this film the villain gets little screen time. Thus, much of the film features nothing but good, likable people.
That list is headed by pretty Rochelle Hudson as "Mary Blair" and charming singer/good guy John Boles as "Edward Morgan" and, finally, good old Arthur Treacher as the butler (what else?!), "Reynolds.".
To be fair, I didn't think the songs were that super, except for Shirley's "Animal Crackers In My Soup," which is a great song. If I recall, at least half the songs in this film were by the adults (two by Boles and one by Rochelle) and, frankly, I'd rather hear little Miss Temple. Boles' numbers and voice are too outdated for today. He has that Rudy Vallee-type 'early 30s voice.
Do not watch this on a colorized VHS version as I did. Shirley's teeth are green and it's distracting. Stick to the black-and-white, especially now that it is available with a good DVD transfer.
Overall, a nice story with lots of nice people give you a warm feeling when viewing this.
CURLY TOP (Fox, 1935), directed by Irving Cummings, stars popular child star Shirley Temple and her most distinctive features of all, the curls of her hair seen flashing on camera during the opening credits before her smiling face fills up the screen. This is followed by the faces and listed names of her co-stars John Boles and Rochelle Hudson who are equally matched in the story that revolves around Temple's character. Reportedly an unofficial remake to the Jane Webster story "Daddy Long Legs" most recently filmed in 1931 with Janet Gaynor and Warner Baxter, this version remains one of the most beloved movies in Temple's early career.
In an fade-in reminiscent to a Charles Dickens novel that opens during a cold, dark, rainy night at the Lakeside Orphanage where a group of little girls are seen marching upstairs in perfect order, escorted by the stern Mrs. Higgins (Rafaela Ottiano) and the very nice Henrietta Denham (Jane Darwell). Other members of the orphanage are the Blair sisters, Mary (Rochelle Hudson) and Elizabeth (Shirley Temple), whose parents, stage performers, were killed in an automobile accident. Mary, the eldest, not only earns her keep helping with the chores from morning till night, but looks after Elizabeth, who playful manner always lands her in trouble. Aside from acquiring a pony named Spunky and a duck as her pets, Elizabeth, better known as "Curly," entertains the orphans by singing the songs written by Mary. Her entertainment is witnessed by the visiting members of the board of trustees headed by Mr. Wyckoff (Etienne Girardot), and Edward Morgan (John Boles), a bachelor heir to millions whose fortune may be the means of financial support for the orphanage. So impressed by this little girl, Morgan decides to sponsor the girls in secret, acting as a lawyer to his millionaire friend, "Hiram Jones" who wants to adopt them. Morgan fulfills his act of human kindness by having the girls (pony and duck, too) stay with him for the summer at his beach house, accompanied by his Aunt Genevieve (Esther Dale), Reynolds (Arthur Treacher), the butler, and a chef (Billy Gilbert), giving them every happiness money can buy. While Elizabeth is having the time of her life, ranging from water skiing with "Uncle Edward" and entertaining guests by doing a hula dance at the beach, Mary, who has attracted the attention of Jimmy Rogers (Maurice Murphy), a young pilot, becomes disillusioned when she overhears the reason why she and "Curly" were actually taken in by Morgan in the first place.
A light-hearted story with doses of fine tunes thrown in, compliments of composers Ted Koehler, Edward Heyman, Irving Caesar and Ray Henderson, including "Animal Crackers in My Soup" (sung by Shirley Temple); "It's All So New to Me" (sung by John Boles as he envisions wall paintings of Curly coming to life); "The Simple Things in Life" (sung by Rochelle Hudson); "When I Grow Up" (sung by Temple enacting the part of a little girl, young adult and grandmother in a wheelchair); and "Curly Top" (sung by Boles, danced by Temple on top of piano). Boles and Hudson each provide solos to best advantage while "Animal Crackers in My Soup" became as synonymous to Temple's "On the Good Ship Lollipop."
Although Hudson never appeared opposite Temple again, John Boles would enact the role as her father in THE LITTLEST REBEL (Fox, 1935). Next to James Dunn, Boles works extremely well with Temple. Such a likable actor, Boles, through his good graces captured on screen, demonstrates how much he enjoys working with Temple, particularly with his sincere hug. Arthur Treacher, whose butler characters has become his trademark, is teamed with Temple for the first time. With his catch phrase "My word!" taking precedence over Temple's constant "Oh, my goodness," they make a wonderful pair. One of their key scenes together finds Treacher teaching Temple table etiquette. "My word!" Another notable moment finds Temple doing a Hawaiian dance on the beach, a scene that was used for Temple's latter movie, YOUNG PEOPLE (1940), and a segment for the 1970s documentary about the movies, "That's Hollywood" narrated by Tom Bosley. In an episode dedicated to deleted scenes from the final movie print, the writers of that series mislabeled the hula dance number edited from CURLY TOP because of Temple being topless, sporting only a hula dress and a lei over her neck, while in reality this scene has always existed in the finished product.
Formerly presented on many local TV channels since the 1960s on its Shirley Temple festivals, by which many stations eliminated the opening ten minutes, having the movie begin instead in the morning where Mrs. Denham (Jane Darwell) is seen raising the window shades and finding Curly's horse sleeping on the bed next to her. CURLY TOP, along with other Temple favorites, were later shown on various cable channels, ranging from The Disney Channel (1990s); American Movie Classics (1996-2000, sporadic revivals after-wards), and Fox Movie Channel. Available in both VHS and DVD, either in black and white or "colorized" versions, the most complete copy of CURLY TOP (77 minutes) can be found from a 1988 VHS copy distributed by Playhouse Video that even goes as far as including the exit music to the title song in blank screen following the closing casting credits.
CURLY TOP may not be reality, but it sure serves its purpose as a happy kind of movie for everyone and anyone to enjoy, thanks to those who've made it all possible, the staff, supporting players, and most of all, "Curly Top" herself.
I must have been blind to hardly remember a thing about this film when I was a preteen! That's quite unusual because since that time, and this is a quintessential Shirley Temple film, very fun with a wonderful cast all around.
This was the first remake Shirley did of a Mary Pickford film (Daddy Long Legs). (Shirley) and her young adult sister Mary (Rochelle Hudson) are orphans adopted by wealthy orphanage trustee Edward Morgan (John Boles). The day he meets both of them, he is captivated by them both, but really has his eyes set on Shirley.
Shirley is quite the most charismatic and adorable youngster at the orphanage, but always seems to get into trouble, especially by some of the stuffy trustees and one of the matrons. Of everyone she sees besides the children, her sister, Mrs. Denham (the matron winningly played by Jane Darwell), and Edward Morgan are the only ones who stand by her. When the director orders the matrons to take her to a public institution, Edward flatly tells him he will completely withdraw his support (which is needed, as he is very wealthy). Then he talks to Shirley and asks if whether or not they can be friends. She refuses because she has to has to use "Ma'am, Sir", and smile all the time around grownup visitors. She further captivates him more, and then he asks if a "friend" of his could adopt her. She goes to ask Mary, who tells Edwards that she promised their parents to never leave Shirley. Out of sympathy, he accepts.
Edward keeps up the deception that he is not their true guardian, but that they are loaned to him for the summer. It's quite obvious why. First, he is lonely for companionship, to be loved just for himself, not his great wealth. Wealth can't buy everything, obviously. Next, he is caring enough to allow Shirley not to continue the excessive display of gratitude she's had to give.
Arthur Treacher has some wonderful scenes as the butler, completely outdoing himself when he disgustedly grabs Shirley's duck by the neck!
Rochelle Hudson, as the older sister, gets to sing "The Simple Things in Life" (and does it well), but her characterization is somewhat weak in places. She is a touch too gentle, vulnerable, and mature, but is also very sincere and sometimes light-hearted. She captivates a very young man named Jimmy Rogers, who proposes to her. She refuses him at first, but the night all this happened, Edward Morgan has already become jealous of him, not knowing he's in love with Mary. His Aunt Genevieve (excellently played by Esther Dale) tells him she thinks (actually, knows) he's very fond of her, and suspects that Jimmy will propose to Mary before the summer ends. This only makes Edward more disgusted, and Mary overhears him angrily say to his aunt that he cares nothing for Mary. She immediately takes the remark the wrong way and accepts Jimmy's proposal. But Edward cools down and wises up, finds Mary to talk to her alone, only to learn they're engaged. It's obvious that he's sad, which breaks Mary's heart. But he generously asks to add to their happiness in any way he can, little knowing what is really in store for him. Shirley learns of the engagement and says that she wants him to wed Mary. But despite Shirley simply being like she always was, John Boles really adds to the film immensely, my second favorite, and the actual reason I watch this film. He has the most rounded-out character and is utterly convincing as a very kind-hearted, generous, loving, and refreshingly human gentleman. He gives the most realistic characterization in the film, mostly because Shirley is just her normal movie persona. He beats out Jane Darwell, a wonderful character actress and Shirley's frequent co-star. He is GORGEOUS and despite being at least 38 when he did the film, looks exactly the right age to be Shirley's father and Rochelle Hudson's love interest (at 19, she looks older). He sings two songs (the same as Shirley), but with a brilliant voice that is "almost operatic" but very easy on the ears. "It's All So New To Me" is his daydream song right after he decides to adopt her, and the more upbeat "Curly Top" is a surprise for her. Discovering him for the wonderful actor and singer he is really is all so new to me.