“Fear God, honor the queen, shoot straight, and keep clean!”
A young girl (Shirley Temple) and her widowed mother (June Lang) go to British-controlled India in the early 1900s to live with Lang’s crusty father-in-law, Colonel Williams (C. Aubrey Smith), at a military outpost. Once there, Temple befriends both a kilt-wearing sergeant (Victor McLaglen) and an imprisoned rebel (Cesar Romero), eventually helping to bring peace to her region.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cesar Romero Films
- John Ford Films
- Shirley Temple Films
- Victor McLaglen Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that while this “enjoyable period piece” was “not a pivotal work in John Ford’s illustrious career”, it was “one of Shirley Temple’s finest films.” He argues that “if you ever wondered what qualified the adult Shirley Temple to be an ambassador,” you should “just take a look at her films in which the little girl repeatedly pacified gruff adults” — including this one, in which she “tames two indomitable warriors and brings about peace between their warring nations” while forming “what is essentially a comedy team with rough but sentimental Sergeant Victor McLaglen.” He notes that the “film has visual beauty, exciting action scenes, humor, [and] strong characterizations”, and asserts that it “has warmth rather than the sentimentality one usually associates with both Ford and Temple”. Peary’s uniformly positive review reveals his own partiality for both Ford and Temple — and while I appreciate that these figures are each undeniably essential components of cinematic history, this film (which, I’m afraid, is overly sentimental) isn’t a collective must-see. Ford made many other must-watch classics viewers should turn to first — and those hoping to see Temple at her most charming can seek out The Littlest Rebel (1935) instead.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by Temple and her supporting cast
- Arthur C. Miller’s cinematography
No, though of course Shirley Temple fans will want to see it.