In Victorian England little Sara Crewe's widowed father is sent to the Boer War. When he is reported killed the evil head mistress at her boarding school turns Sara into a servant. She suffers with dignity until her shell-shocked father returns.
Shirley Temple ... Sara Crewe
Richard Greene ... Geoffrey Hamilton
Anita Louise ... Rose Hamilton
Ian Hunter ... Captain Reginald Crewe
Cesar Romero ... Ram Dass, Lord Wickham's Indian Servant
Arthur Treacher ... Hubert 'Bertie' Minchin
Mary Nash ... Amanda Minchin of Minchin Seminary for Girls
Sybil Jason ... Becky, Servant at Minchin Seminary
Miles Mander ... Lord Wickham
Marcia Mae Jones ... Lavinia
Beryl Mercer ... Queen Victoria
Shirley at 12yrs old is a delight as the sad little girl left in a very snotty all girls boarding school while her father is away at war in 1899,later on he is reported killed and leaves shirley with noone and no money so she is forced to work as a servant to pay her way.. I do admit that this is not one of Shirley's best,for example Shirley's crying scenes are a bit heavy handed and forced but overall she is still so cute you just cant help but love her. I also enjoyed the girl who played Becky ,she was so cute too. Mary Nash could have been the wicked witch in the wizard of oz ,she does good as the nasty head mistress. Look for a very young and handsome Cesar Romero as the Indian servant of an English nobleman. Best scene , Shirley giving a snotty schoolgirl her comeuppance. A timeless family classic to show your children again and again.
She carries the picture on her little shoulders. All the key dramatic moments are hers and in close up. Wow. She was truly amazing. Her little cockney dance with Arthur Treacher is one of my favorites. She even does a fair attempt at dialect. What a great little hoofer.
Unfortunately she attempted ballet (not her forte) a big mistake considering the country was swarming with 'little ballerinas' who could have done it better. She has too much sass and rhythm for that.
As a matter of fact, seeing her in the ballet get-up made me realize what a spunky and get-down little gal she was ... 'prettiness' was something imposed on her. She comes to life in her urchin outfit and shawl or (as in The Little Colonel) reduced to ragged poverty and dancing on the street with Bill Robinson.
Some posts complain the story isn't true to the Francis Hodgson Burnett original - yeah, right such a masterpiece, mustn't touch it.Puh-leaze!
Mary Nash as the evil headmistress of the school positively oozed venom. I can't remember the last time I yelled 'Oh, you bitch!' at the screen as often as I did in this film.
The technicolor is necessary for many scenes and warmed up the proceedings. In black and white it would have been just too grim.
Goose-bumpy ending if you are not jaded. If you are jaded and can't enjoy little Shirley then just give up.
We are always captivated by a young person's grown up prowess on stage or screen. This is certainly true of Temple's performance. We are intimidated by her poise and strength, but endeared to her by her sincerity. Who will forget Caesar Romero (or better who would guess it was him)in the role of the Indian servant? The scene when Queen Victoria visits the hospital is gripping. On the one hand, we know the writers could not be so cruel to let her father escape her, yet on the other hand the writers and players condition you into feeling ... . Well, you'll just have to watch the movie.
Temple also pulls off the "the princess and the pauper" (one implied title of the movie) class switch well. Excellent character actors and actresses support.
I think a good movie for young people to watch.
* The full name of the book this movie is based on is "A Little Princess, Being the Whole Story of Sara Crewe Here Told For the First Time" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.