Shirley Temple and Dickie Moore in Miss Annie Rooney (1942)


(director: Edwin L. Marin; screenwriter: story by George Bruce/George Bruce; cinematographer: Lester White; editor: Fred R. Feitshans Jr.; music: Darrell Calker/Michel Michelet/Clarence Wheeler; cast: Shirley Temple (Annie Rooney), William Gargan (Tim Rooney), Guy Kibbee (Grandpa Tim Rooney Sr.), Dickie Moore (Marty White), Roland Dupree (Joey), Peggy Ryan (Myrtle), Gloria Holden (Mrs. White), Jonathan Hale (Mr. Martin White), Mary Field (Mrs. Metz), June Lockhart (Stella Bainbridge), Byron Foulger (Randall); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward Small; United Artists; 1942)
“Noteworthy only because Shirley Temple got her first screen kiss in this pic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Edwin L. Marin (“Tall in the Saddle”/”Johnny Angel”/”Nocturne”) directs this innocuous family drama. It’s based on the story by George Bruce, who also wrote the script. The film is noteworthy only because Shirley Temple got her first screen kiss in this pic.

The 14-year-old Shirley Temple as Annie Rooney, an Irish girl from the wrong side of the tracks, proves to the upper classes that the lower classes have charm and drive to succeed socially.

Bubbly and brassy Annie lives in a tenement Manhattan building with her kindly retired New York policeman Grandpop, Timothy Rooney Sr. (Guy Kibbee), and with her dreamer widowed father Timothy Rooney, Jr (William Gargan). Her dad works as an insurance agent and is partners with a professor inventor who is working on a way to make rubber from milkweed. Grandpa thinks it’s a crackpot idea, a get rich quick scheme, whereby his son is pouring his hard earned money into that wild-eyed invention he should be using to pay the rent.

The jive talking Annie is dating hep-cat car enthusiast Joey (Roland Dupree), who loves the scrap-heap he calls Anaesthesia more than anything else in the world. On their way to a “jam session” with Annie’s best friend Myrtle (Peggy Ryan), Joey rear-ends Marty White Jr.’s car. Annie is smitten with the polite and cultured Marty, and accepts a ride from him to Laura’s house party when Joey’s tin can is too damaged to drive.

Marty is a rich boy from Sutton Place, whose dad (Jonathan Hale) owns a rubber company. When Annie teaches Marty the jitterbug and how to talk jive like her groovy friends, the two wind up dating for the next few weeks. Against the wishes of Marty’s stuffy mom (Gloria Holden), he invites the lower-class Annie to be his date for a birthday party in his home attended by his upper-class friends. Annie’s pushy dad, in a desperate move because he lost his job and is about to get bounced from his apartment, crashes the party and demonstrates for Marty’s father how his new product can be made. The demo bombs and a disgraced Tim is asked to leave. The next day, however, Marty had the chief chemist (Byron Foulger) analyze the product and he unequivocally states that the milkweed experiment to make a synthetic rubber worked. Thereby Mr. White makes a lucrative offer for the product and everyone is as happy as a clam, which proves one should always hold onto one’s dreams or watch Shirley films for inspiration.