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Little Princess, The


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The Little Princess is a 1939 American drama film directed by Walter Lang. The screenplay by Ethel Hill and Walter Ferris is loosely based on the novel A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film was the first Shirley Temple movie to be filmed completely in Technicolor.</>


Captain Crewe (played by Ian Hunter (actor)), called to fight in the Second Boer War, has to leave his daughter Sara (Shirley Temple) with her pony at Miss Minchin's School for Girls. With all the money Captain Crewe can offer, Miss Minchin gives Sara a fancy, private room.
Although worried about her father, Sara is distracted by riding lessons. Sara hears news that Mafeking is free and expects her father will soon come home. Miss Minchin throws Sara a lavish birthday party. During the party, Captain Crewe's solicitor arrives with the sad news that Captain Crewe has died and his real estate, the basis for his wealth, has been confiscated. Miss Minchin ends Sara's party abruptly. Without her father's financial support, Sara becomes a servant, now working at the school she used to attend. Sara gains new solace in a friendship with Ram Dass (Cesar Romero) who lives next door. She also receives support from Miss Minchin's brother, Hubert, who does not agree with her treatment.
In her new role Sara gets hungrier and more tired from her arduous duties and sneaks off to Veterans Hospitals, convinced her father is not dead. After a string of episodes including a performance of the film's most well-known song "Wot Cher! Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road", Sara is at her wits end. Taunting from Lavinia (Marcia Mae Jones) cause Sara to lose her temper. Miss Minchin arrives in the attic, discovers blankets that Ram Dass left Sara, assumes they are stolen, and locks her in the attic, calling the police. Sara escapes and runs to the hospital with Minchin in hot pursuit.
Meanwhile the hospital is preparing to transfer a newly arrived patient, who is unable to communicate except to repeatedly say, "Sara, Sara"; it is Captain Crewe, but "his papers have been lost" and no one knows who he is. Sara is initially barred from entering the hospital but sneaks in, only to burst in upon a visit by Queen Victoria, who grants her permission to search for her father. Sara searches the wards unsuccessfully, but happens upon her father as she hides from Miss Minchin and the police.
Miss Minchin, who pursued Sara to the hospital, is appalled that her brother thinks Sara is innocent. A staff member announces Sara has found her father, Miss Minchin exclaims: "Captain Crewe is alive?!" to which her brother retorts, "Of course he's alive! How could she find him if he wasn't alive?" The film ends with Sara helping her father stand as the Queen departs.


  • Shirley Temple as Sara Crewe
  • Richard Greene as Geoffrey Hamilton
  • Anita Louise as Rose
  • Ian Hunter (actor) as Captain Crewe
  • Cesar Romero as Ram Dass
  • Arthur Treacher as Hubert 'Bertie' Minchin
  • Mary Nash as Amanda Minchin
  • Sybil Jason as Becky
  • Miles Mander as Lord Wickham
  • Marcia Mae Jones as Lavinia
  • Deidre Gale as Jessie
  • Ira Stevens as Ermengarde

  • E. E. Clive as Mr. Barrows
  • Beryl Mercer as Queen Victoria
  • Eily Malyon as Cook
  • Clyde Cook (actor) as Attendant
  • Keith Kenneth as Bobbie
  • Will Stanton as a Groom
  • Harry Allen as a Groom
  • Holmes Herbert as a Doctor
  • Evan Thomas as a Doctor
  • Guy Bellis as a Doctor
  • Kenneth Hunter as General
  • Lionel Braham as Colonel



Accord to Variety, "Transposition of the Frances Hodgson Burnett several-generation favorite, Sara Crewe, is accomplished most successfully. The fairy-tale story is still saccharine to the nth degree, but once the basic premise is established, it rolls along acceptably. And, while the story has been changed for screen purposes, the general line is close enough."< name="variety"/>
Benjamin R. Crisler, who reviewed the film when it opened in New York City at Roxy Theatre (New York City), said
<blockquote>"With any other child on earth, it is amazing to lect, The Little Princess would stand out as one of the most glaring exhibits of pure wikt:hokum in screen history; with Mistress Temple, it may very well be, as Mr. Zanuck unflinchingly proclaims, the greatest picture with which Mr. Zanuck has ever been associated."</blockquote>
Janet Maslin, writing for The New York Times 44 years later, on the occasion of its VHS release by Media Home Entertainment, called it "antiquated enough to seem charming" and concludes "[t]he movie's music, its corny but likable wikt:histrionics and its rousing patriotism (it was made in 1939) culminate in a happy ending sure to make even grown-up viewers cry."< name="nyt1983"/>
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Category:1939 films
Category:20th Century Fox films
Category:Aftermath of war
Category:American films
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:Films based on children's books
Category:Films directed by Walter Lang
Category:Films set in London
Category:Films set in the 1900s
Category:Films about educators
Category:English-language films
Category:Films based on novels
Category:American drama films

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