Definitely the weakest set...
La Coccinelle | 04/30/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"As a Shirley Temple fan, I have purchased each one of these new DVD sets so far. This one is definitely the weakest.
The one strong movie of the three, "The Little Princess", cannot make up for the other two. Though all three movies look good, it is the story/plot of each that is either their saving grace or their downfall. (Note that two of these movies - "The Little Princess" and "The Blue Bird" are in colour, while "Stand Up and Cheer" has been left in its original black-and-white state without a colourized version.)
"The Blue Bird" is weak, and it is understandable that this film was the one generally viewed to have ended Shirley's career as a child actress. The story is boring and drawn out, and one cannot help but think that it would be much better as a play (and, in fact, it was originally a play). Shirley is unappealing as a selfish child, and the acting on the part of her co-stars is not very good. Young children would probably not understand some of the underlying themes, and might get bored. I certainly did...
"The Little Princess", made a year earlier than "The Blue Bird", is a much better film. Based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the movie tells the classic story of little Sara Crewe and her undying belief that her soldier father is still alive. This version looks great; the colour is wonderful. The sound didn't seem quite right (loud ambient noise and too-quiet voices), but that may be my DVD player.
"Stand Up and Cheer" is just a weird movie. It's not for children, and it barely has enough of a plot to keep adults entertained. It's a mish-mash of song-and-dance numbers, and Shirley barely features in it at all. Luckily, with DVD technology, we can skip right to her special scene (and it is a good one... it's no wonder the 1930s movie-going public fell in love with this child!).
I am still waiting for some of my other favourites to be released as part of this series, but I don't know how many more 3-disc sets there will be, as there are five movies (by my count) left to be released: "Our Little Girl", "The Poor Little Rich Girl", "Stowaway", "Wee Willie Winkie", and "Young People".
So, for this set, three stars. The films have been restored nicely. They're just rather weak on content."
Best of the Shirley Temple Collections!
Charles Van Dusen | Buffalo,NY | 08/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In this collection, we get Shirley's only two Technicolor films: The Little Princess and The Blue Bird, the former having been available on a dozen different - and inferior - DVDs. This time, Fox has restored all the three-strip Technicolor brilliance to two of the titles, and, strangely, released Stand Up And Cheer only in black-and-white. All the other black-and-whites in her collections were both b&w and colorized.
Perhaps it is because no colorization would look good next to these Technicolors. They are absolutely breathtaking.
As for content, well, you may or may not care for the films, but as a friend of mine used to say about three-strip Technicolor films:Good or bad, they are always a feast for the eyes! Thank you Fox for the banquet!"
For fans of Shirley and Technicolor
Dave | San Diego, CA | 10/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Others have commented that this is an odd assortment and not the best; I would agree to a small extent. "The Little Princess" is often referred to as Shirley's best, and this DVD print definitely bears out those sentiments. Shirley has a strong supporting cast with Arthur Treacher, Mary Nash, Marcia Mae Jones (as the spoiled arch nemisis of Shirley), and Anita Louise. Fox also gave Shirley high production values which show in the color, the sets (especially the lavish ballet number), and the costumes. Definitely 5 stars. "The Blue Bird" is a film that often slides into both camps; people either hate it or love it. Shirley herself gives a standout performance as a little brat. This is a little jarring for her regular fans, but for once she is given an opportunity to play against type and she succeeds. The rest of the supporting cast is strong and so are the production values. Where the film fails is in the direction, pacing, and script. With tighter direction and editing, the lulls in the plotline could have been fixed. Although not as bad is its horrible reputation, "The Blue Bird" is not as enjoyable as "The Little Princess." I would give this one a 3/4 star rating. "Stand Up & Cheer" is mainly for fans of old musicals and campy entertainment. I don't think Fox at anytime (even when it was released) ever claimed this movie was high art, and it has always had the reputation of being a lot of hokey numbers with the exception of Shirley 's standout "Baby Take A Bow" duet with James Dunn. Shirley's actual part of the number only lasts about a minute, but boy does she shine in the midst of this turkey! This movie gets about 4 stars for its historic value, and probably about a 1 or 2 star rating for overall entertainment. It's pure escapist fun that needs to be put into the historic context in which it was released: the country was in the midst of a terrible depression, and even this hokum was able to put a smile on their face. In general, it's still disappointing that Fox has been so stingy on the extras with these Shirley sets. The gal that saved the studio at least deserves a few features and commentary tracks."
Buried Shirley Temple Treasure
Barbara J. Frederick | St. Louis, MO | 01/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Again, we have three movies packaged together, but this time it's two clear winners and an "OK, for the historical significance" corny one.
This version of The Little Princess is my favorite, in spite of the fact that it does not stick all that closely to the book, since none of the movies have done so. But it is more authentic than the more recent (and very good) Warner Bros. version from the 1990s. Shirley is the poor little rich girl whose adoring widower father puts her in Miss Minchin's snooty school in London while he goes off to the Boer War. She has lived all her life in India, and is accustomed to a very different lifestyle. But she adapts well, even when word comes that her father lost all his money and died. Shirley refuses to believe he is dead. Minchin turns her into a servant to pay off her outstanding tuition and costs advanced. So she goes to the attic and sleeps in what is mostly a storeroom, next to Becky, the Cockney servant, and finds that out the window of the room she looks directly into the house next door, where an elegant Indian servant can be seen in the window.
The story relies rather too heavily on coincidence, but that's really its only flaw. Shirley is marvelous in the role, other actors we know and love (notably the "cowardly lion") brighten the story, and Shirley even meets Queen Victoria herself! Of course, her father is alive, and she finds him, with Victoria's help.
Stand Up and Cheer is another of those "feel good" depression era movies, but this one is far more charming than most. Shirley is very, very young, and just as cute as anyone can imagine. The most important part of this movie is having it available for the history of film.
Shirley's father (Notice how she has a great many more fathers than mothers in her movies?) is an unemployed vaudeville actor who has incorporated Shirley into his act, where of course she steals the show every time. So when the government creates a Department of Entertainment (bread and circuses, you know; there were really many such projects in the New Deal), they are recruited to make the country "stand up and cheer." The song that tells it all has lyrics that start "I'm laughing, and I've got nothing to laugh about." Again, some offensive stereotypes of blacks, but what can we do?
The Blue Bird is the hidden gem. It was not popular when it was new because Shirley uncharacteristically plays a spoiled brat at the beginning. But since she learns better, I don't consider that a problem. The movie was clearly made to compete with The Wizard of Oz, and in my opinion [blasphemy warning!], it has more going for it as a story than Oz does. Shirley and her little brother are sent on a mission to find the Bluebird of Happiness by a friendly witch -- oh, sorry, a "good fairy." She travels through the graveyard to find her grandparents, who explain that they "wake up" whenever someone remembers them. They want her and her little brother to stay, but they have been warned by their spirit guide, named Light, not to stay more than an hour. Their grandparents have a large cage full of birds, but none of them is blue.
They wander around and look for the bird, and have a variety of interesting encounters, but the most remarkable place is the one where little boys and girls live until it is time for them to be born. There is a strong mystic thread here, and seems to imply reincarnation, both pretty esoteric for 1940.
Of course, they find the bluebird at home. As Dorothy put it, "There's no place like home.""