November 18, 1938 [Just Around the Corner]
When Shirley Temple tells Uncle Sam to keep his chin up, the tough old bird better listen. It has been only four years since Shirley started making movies, but down there in the lower-rent district she has knocked around like a self-made woman, pouting and smiling, dancing and lamenting--convincing us she oughta take a bow. She is my littlest girl's favorite movie star--and, I do not need to add, my daughter is not alone--but I should confess they may be right: Shirley Temple is, at ten years old or so, a seasoned performer--and a force to be reckoned with, if the Depression knows what's good for it.
In Just Around the Corner she rallies all the other Shirleys--plucky Rebel, Miss Marker, Broadway-bound hoofer, Heidi and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm--and they rake in the nickels and lay them at a flummoxed government's feet, with the eccentric likes of Bert Lahr and long-suffering Edgar Pangborn--not to mention her best dance partner, Bill Robinson, who helps her keep up with him with generosity and grace--and the easy precision of a master watchmaker, ticking off the beat with his toes.
Yes, it's a minor picture--with an insistence to lay off the New Deal while simultaneously extolling its virtues, an oxymoron I can get around only by ignoring it. And there's no Good Ship Lollipop-worthy tune--although I grinned when Bert Lahr warbled his verse--"This is a happy little ditty / I know the music isn't pretty / You know the words are not so witty"--like an asylum inmate; and again, Robinson and Temple are so at ease in each other's company--extending post-Depression hope that at least some ills some day will be cured--that I will let it be, and tap along, because "anyone can sing this song."
Posted by Paul J. Marasa at 3/19/2009 12:28:00 PM