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BRIGHT EYES (director/writer: David Butler; screenwriters: story by David Butler & Edwin Burke/ William Conselman; cinematographer: Arthur Miller; music: David Buttolph; cast: Shirley Temple (Shirley Blake), Lois Wilson (Mary Blake), James Dunn (Loop), Jane Withers (Joy Smythe), Charles Sellon (Uncle Ned Smith), Dorothy Christy (Mrs. Smyte), Theodor von Eltz (Mr. Smyte), Jane Darwell (Mrs. Higgins), Brandon Hurst (Higgins), Walter Johnson (Thomas), Judith Allen (Miss Adele Martin), George Irving (Judge Thompson); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sol M. Wurtzel; Fox; 1934)
The first movie Shirley Temple got top billing.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The first movie Shirley Temple got top billing. It was filmed in three weeks and released for Christmas as a showcase Shirley Temple film. The successful comedy made Shirley a superstar, who in turn became the most famous female in the world. Shirley sings her most popular tune “On the Good Ship Lollipop.” David Butler (“The Command”/”Lullaby of Broadway”/”Road to Morocco”) is the director and co-writer, who does a nice job directing the curly-haired dynamo Shirley. It’s based on a story by David Butler & Edwin Burke. William Conselman co-writes the cheerful screenplay. The film is set in Glendale, California.

Shirley’s pilot father died in an air mishap and her sweet mom Mary (Lois Wilson) works as a housekeeper for the nouveau-riche snobs Mr. and Mrs. Smythe (Dorothy Christy & Theodor von Eltz). Their daughter Joy (Jane Withers), around the same age of five as Shirley, is a first-class brat. When Shirley’s mom is killed in a car accident, three people try to adopt the orphan, resulting in a court battle. The parties include the elderly wheel-chair bound man of wealth Ned Smith (Charles Sellon), Ned’s niece Adele Martin (Judith Allen), and the pilot Loop (James Dunn), Shirley’s father’s best pal and her godfather.

Shirley as always plays wonderfully cute. In contrast, Jane Withers is a scream as the bad girl and nearly steals the pic.

The lightweight comedy was a huge financial and artistic hit.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”