Rare Scavenging Scene in Shirley Temple Film

September 8, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in Celebrities | 2 Comments

shirley_temple12I haven’t watched a Shirley Temple movie in ages, and I suspect that several generations have now reached adulthood without ever even having heard of Shirley Temple. Suffice to say, she was the ultimate child star — singing, dancing and acting in many blockbuster films in the decade or so before World War II. Yes, they were incredibly sappy films with incredibly old-fashioned messages — be brave, be kind, don’t give up hope, remain cheerful in the face of adversity. But the thing is, Shirley had amazing talent. She didn’t write the sappy screenplays, but she could act the heck out of them. And for someone so young to sing and dance so well, with such precision, is pretty astounding in this age of digitally altered voices and images.

Okay, so the reason I bring this up is that I was “scavenging” entertainment at YouTube over the weekend, searching (as it happens) for videos involving the word “temple.” I do that sometimes, just pick a word or phrase at random or a word or phrase that holds some intrigue for me at the moment, and just see what comes up. As in all forms of scavenging, I can’t really predict what I’ll end up seeing. And, as in all forms of scavenging, I always learn something. So, because someone I know recently showed me the Zen temple where she goes to meditate, I had a hankering for some temple footage — all kinds of temples, I thought, all around the world. So I typed “temple” into the search thing, and one of the videos that popped up was this clip from Shirley Temple’s 1934 film Bright Eyes. In the film, Shirley plays a poor child whose mother works as a maid for a rich family. The rich family’s daughter Joy (played very well by fellow child actress Jane Withers) is incredibly obnoxious. In this clip, Shirley is taking out the trash and, little scavenger that she is, finds a doll in the bin that has clearly been thrown away by spoiled Joy.

“Why, you poor little thing,” exclaims Shirley, picking up and cradling the doll. “You must have cracked up. You should be in the hospital.” This is a reference to her father, a pilot who has “cracked up” — that is, crashed.

Joy, bicycling nearby, spots Shirley with her new find.

“Hey,” Joy snarls, “that’s my doll.”

“Well,” Shirley points out in true scavenger fashion, “I just found her here.”

“You can’t have her,” Joy cries, seizing the doll from Shirley’s arms and spanking it viciously.

“If you give her to me,” Shirley reasons, “I’ll take care of her. I’ll wash her face and make her some clothes and ever’thing.”

“You can’t have her,” Joy repeats. “You wanna know why? Because I’m gonna kill her.” And now, in a scene that I had no idea would affect me so strongly, Joy tears the doll to pieces, finally flinging the shreds to the ground and skipping away in her perky pink dress, chanting “Happy happy happy day” as Shirley stands by the trash, her expression containing the angst and insight of the ages. That’s it up there in the picture.

You HAVE to see this.

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