Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Temple Tuesday: Details and Deletions

In the 1938 Shirley Temple movie “Just Around the Corner,” her character (Penny Hale) holds a benefit to help save Uncle Sam. The “Programme” lists an opening number by Lottie and Letty (Barbara and Gloria Brewster):

The Brewster Twins also had a bit part in Shirley’s “Little Miss Broadway”. They were born Naomi and Ruth Stevenson in Tucson in 1918 and were under contract to Fox from the late 1930’s to the early 1940’s, making nine films. They were known as the “Most Beautiful Twins in America.” No arguments here! Back to Shirley…

Rehearsal sheet music from “Just Around the Corner” was auctioned off in 2015 and included the songs “London Bridge is Falling Down” and “I Feel Like the Blossoms in the Spring.” This sheet music was written when the movie was still being called “Lucky Penny.”

Neither of the songs made it into the final cut of the movie. It is believed that “Blossoms” was the song that Penny and her gang were to sing at the benefit. This recently acquired image shows what I believe to be the “Penny and her Gang” musical number, which does not show up in the finished film. Something tells me that this number of Shirley singing with the neighborhood toughs may not have been all that spectacular. If only the footage still survived!

The rest of the “Programme” continues as advertised, with a rousing tap number by Bill Robinson and friends, “Brass Buttons and Epaulettes.”

According to an early script, “London Bridge” was being played by the snobby little children in the Riverview’s swanky playroom on the piano. Bennie Bartlett (who played Shirley’s new friend Milton) takes over at the piano and plays a swing version of the classic tune, with Shirley doing the big apple dance to it. It was at this point that Mr. Waters (Franklin Pangborn) was supposed to walk in and catch this disruption in the normally staid playroom. In reality, Bartlett was a bit of a child prodigy himself. At age four he played trumpet, directed and sang with his own dance orchestra, and was featured on the radio. He appeared in a 1935 RKO musical, “Millions in the Air” playing the piano. The next year he appeared in a short for Paramount, performing a composition he had written at the age of nine. I always wondered why his musical talents were not paired with Shirley’s. It would appear that the original intention was to do just that. Below, Milton’s black eye is revealed to his disapproving mother (Cora Witherspoon) and his approving Uncle Sam (Claude Gillingwater).

The cast of the film concerned Mrs. Temple, which she felt consisted of too many has-beens. For the first time, she went directly to Darryl Zanuck to express her concerns about the movie and the overall typecasting of Shirley. She wanted to see some changes in the types of roles that Shirley would play so that audiences wouldn't get sick of her. Zanuck disagreed; he felt that the more stars stayed the same, the more audiences would come to see them. At the point they tired of that star, it was basically time for Zanuck to release a new one for the public to enjoy. Oops. Not a good answer for Mrs. Temple, who could see that Zanuck would have been quite fine to let Shirley get pushed aside if another personality came along to replace her. The next move Mrs. Temple made caused a permanent rift between her and Zanuck: she went over his head to plead her case to his boss, Joseph M. Schenck. Unfortunately for the Temples, Schenck sided with Zanuck. Oops again.

Farrell was one of the "has-beens” that Mrs. Temple was referring to. Even though he had the largest supporting role, he was billed below Shirley and Joan Davis in the film credits. Director Irving Cummings went to Palm Springs to fetch Farrell out of retirement, promising a come-back. Instead, he only made two more films: 1939’s “Tail-Spin” (once again billed below Joan Davis!) and 1941’s “The Deadly Game.” Farrell is shown above with Rock Hudson in Palm Springs, circa 1955.

GOOF DEPARTMENT: When Penny first enters the basement apartment where her father (Farrell) has been demoted to, the door says “HOUSE ELECTRICIAN”:

A little later in the movie, after her father and his girlfriend break-up (temporarily of course!), it says “MR. HALE”:

Phew. That’s a lot of info!

See more Shirley Temple photos at my main website.

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1 comment:

Major Pepperidge said...

Those Brewster Twins are adorable.