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THE LITTLE COLONEL (1935)

icon-dots A CELEBRATION OF 20TH CENTURY FOX

Twentieth Century-Fox made history when it teamed Shirley Temple and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson for the film’s staircase dance, the first ever interracial dance in American film. Although it had to be cut in most Southern states, the studio reunited the duo for three other films and gave Robinson a juicy role in In Old Kentucky (1935). By 1935, Temple was riding high as the nation’s top box-office attraction, and the studio regularly cast her in “Little Miss Fix-It” roles like this. This time out, she mends the rift between her Southern mother (Evelyn Venable) and grandfather (Lionel Barrymore), caused when mama married a Union soldier after the Civil War. While her father is out prospecting in the West (Temple rarely had both parents present on-screen), her mother moves back to her hometown, where Temple meets her cantankerous grandfather and gradually melts his heart. Irving Cummings was originally assigned to direct, but when the studio needed him to shoot re-takes on Raoul Walsh’s Under Pressure (1935), they turned to David Butler, who had just finished making another of Temple’s biggest hits, Bright Eyes (1934). He would go on to work with Temple on three other pictures. The film ends with a Technicolor party sequence, the first color footage of Temple ever recorded. (d. David Butler, 81m, 35mm)

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