- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938 film)
name = Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
caption = DVD cover
Darryl F. Zanuck
writer = Novel:
Kate Douglas Wiggin
Shirley Temple Randolph Scott Gloria Stuart Helen Westley
Arthur C. Miller
20th Century Fox
released = flagicon|USA
March 18, 1938
runtime = 80 min.
country = USA
imdb_id = 0030657
"Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1938) is a
20th Century Foxmusical feature filmstarring Shirley Templeand Randolph Scottin a story about a talented orphan's trials and tribulations after winning a radio audition to represent a breakfast ceral. Directed by Allan Dwan, the film is loosely based upon the children's book " Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" by Kate Douglas Wiggin. The show features two musical highpoints: Temple singing a medley of her hit tunes and a finale in which Temple as a toy soldier dances with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson on a flight of stairs. Dances were choreographed by Nick Castleand Geneva Sawyer.
Plot and cast
Rebecca Winstead (
Shirley Temple) wins a radio audition to represent a breakfast cereal but leaves the studio with her shifty stepfather Harry Kipper ( William Demarest) believing she has lost the audition. Advertising head Tony Kent ( Randolph Scott) is dismayed when he discovers she has vanished without a trace.
Kipper regards Rebecca as a burden and dumps her on the farm of her Aunt Miranda (
Helen Westley). Kent lives next door, recognizes Rebecca, and requests 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 reappears on 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 (
Alan Dinehart) to star Rebecca on another radio show. When Rebecca suddenly develops laryngitisand 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 (Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson) costumed as toy soldiers performing a dance on a flight on steps that suggests their similar number in " The Little Colonel".
Subplots include a romance between Kent and Rebecca's cousin Gwen (
Gloria Stuart), another between two radio singers ( Jack Haleyand Phyllis Brooks), and the rekindling of an old romance between Aunt Miranda and neighbor Homer Busby ( Slim Summerville). Franklin Pangbornappears briefly in a showcase bit as a nervous organist at the radio station.
opening credits overtureis 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( music) and Mack Gordon( lyrics). 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 (Bill "Bojangles" Robinson). 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" (Scott), and (Mitchell and 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 Jack Haley. The breakfast cereal's theme tune "Crackly Grain Flakes" (Pollack and Mitchell) is sung by a male quartet.
Brett Willis, contributor to " Christian Spolight on the Movies", commented: "There’s some crude and deceitful behavior by Rebecca's stepfather (portrayed negatively). Rebecca, her grown cousin (Stuart) and Kent also deceive several people. Beating the stepfather at his own game is somewhat justifiable; deceiving Aunt Miranda (just because they disagree with her judgment) is not. There are also a lot of insults thrown around among the adult cast; the non-realistic acting style lessens their impact somewhat. This film and most other Temple films do have objectionable elements if you look closely enough, but they compare favorably to anything coming out of Hollywood today." The film was given a 'moral rating' of Good. [ [http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies/2001/rebeccaofsunnybrookfarm.html "Christian Spolight on the Movies: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"] ]
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917 film)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932 film)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (play)
Shirley Temple filmography
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