Title: Baby Take A Bow
Starring: Shirley Temple, James Dunn
Costarring: Claire Trevor, Alan Dineheart
Director: Harry Lachman
Times Watched: 1, but potentially 2
Road To Ownership: I used to watch Shirley Temple movies a LOT as a child. My parents were always taking me to the video store to rent them, and I was beyond delighted when I came across one that wasn't available at my local video store. I did away with my VHS tapes some time ago, and came across a 10-disc special gift set at Costco a year and a half ago which included Baby Take A Bow. Now...I'm pretty sure I haven't seen it before, but not 100%. I'm being swayed by the trailer at the beginning of all my VHS tapes that had the title line of this movie as the opening scene to it. Hm.
The Plot: Eddie is an ex-con that has been straight for six years - married to Kay, with a five-year-old named Shirley. He's also been dogged by a hack job investigator named Welch, who has kept the family from their dreams of owning a custom-built house in Yonkers. Another ex-con named Trigger Stone wants to work with Eddie and his fellow ex-con on getting rid of some recently lifted stash, but Eddie protests. Trigger still gets his way by pawning a set of pearls onto Shirley, who proceeds to play hide and go seek with them in a cat and mouse game between her, Welch, Eddie, and Trigger.
The Good & The Bad: It's so hard to watch these films with an objective eye because this was really the birth of filmmaking. It reminded me of playing 'The Movies' and how crappy the movies you make are in the beginning of the game - very plodding pace and predictable. The earlier Shirley Temple features (I've also seen 'Stand Up & Cheer') - the ones that served as prototype and training grounds for the child star - tend to be the most boring because they're able to do 'less' with Shirley, and focus more on the adults. The hallmarks of a ST film - dance numbers, singalongs, fantasy sequences, fun costumes, etc. - are few and far between here, with just one lame rooftop father/daughter number (where the title line comes in), a snippet of Shirley in a dance class, and a random exercise scene with her and Kay. Shirley's storyline just feels mashed in with the actually relatively compelling and humorous (were it handled differently today) storyline between Eddie, Welsh, and Trigger. It's like a caper film gone wrong basically. It just wasn't particularly spectacular at the end of the day.
Best Scene: By default, Shirley's rooftop birthday party because it's the only part that contained a musical number. Plus Shirley's birthday dress was cute, and iconic. Fun to see the film in colour in this instance at least.
Worst Scene: I was going NUTS in the scene when Eddie realized he had the pearls and was trying to figure out where to stash them. Logically, he should have kept them right in his pocket since Welsh had already rejected the idea that the men were carrying them on them.
Best Character: Shirley of course.
Worst Character: Welsh was just annoying. If they had established a Javert / Valjean rapport between them earlier on more clearly - perhaps that Welsh had been 100% responsible for sending Eddie to jail under wrongful terms, then it would have been a bit more spicy. It didn't make sense for him to have been as hung up on the guys as he was.
Soundtrack of Our Lives: god this movie could have used a score. The only musical number as I said, was a father/daughter tune sung and danced to on the rooftop, although Shirley had a surprising amount of trouble keeping up compared to what I'm used to.
If You Like This You'll Like: Other early Shirley movies, like 'Stand Up & Cheer'.
FINAL GRADE: 2/5