Category Archives: Family Film

In Appreciation of Shirley Temple: The Little Princess (1939)


Two of Miss Minchen’s boarding students, about to get a big surprise from the devilish Miss Temple

If it’s Shirley Temple, it’s automatically a holiday film.  And that’s why I’m including 1939’s The Little Princess in my December list.

Several years ago, I dated a gentleman from India who was not well acquainted with American cinema.  I thought it might be fun to show him 1985’s That’s Dancin’, a compilation of American dancing legends like Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, The Nicholas Brothers, etc.  The one thing that my date focused on was a segment from The Little Colonel (1935), where seven year-old Shirley Temple tap dances with veteran hoofer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and matches him step for step.  He couldn’t believe that a little girl could do what Temple does in this sequence.

Such is the legacy of the greatest child actor of all time.  In addition to her dancing skills, Temple had the ability to project on camera innocence, insouscience, tomboyishness, female guile, and old-soul wisdom.  We see all of this in The Little Princess, an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s story.

Storyline:  In 1899, Sara Crewe (Temple) is enrolled into Miss Minchen’s Boarding School for Girls.  Sarah’s father, Captain Crewe (Ian Hunter), goes off to fight in the Boer War.  He comes up missing in action, and all of his assets are impounded.  In one fell swoop, Sara is reduced from her position as Miss Minchen’s favorite to serving girl in order to pay her debts.  Things look grim, until a series of events reunite Sara with her beloved father.

I would really prefer not to elaborate on the plot.  Instead, take a look at The Little Princess, one of Temple’s best.  You can purchase the DVD through the following link:

In addition, you can obtain an instant download from through the following link:



Plus:  Great plot, incandescent performance by Shirley Temple, great supporting performances from Arthur Treacher and Cesar Romero (yes, the guy who played “The Joker” in the 1960’s Batman series.)

Minus:  An unnecessary romantic subplot

Cast:  Shirley Temple, Ian Hunter, Richard Greene, Anita Louise, Arthur Treacher, Cesar Romero

Director:  Walter Lang

Rating:  Unrated

In color

Length:  93 minutes