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One Of The Few Unappealing Temple Movies
ccthemovieman-129 June 2006
Shirley Temple was in a few - not many - movies that just were not appealing. In most of her films, she overcomes a bad start in life (orphanages, etc.) or overcomes an evil, nasty person (usually Edna Mae Oliver or someone similar) but is seen happy most of the time and singing and dancing here and there. It's when the negative elements of the story are overemphasized (i.e. Blue Bird, Baby Take A Bow) that her films often lose appeal. That's the case in this movie.

"Our Little Girl" is simply too depressing, a negative storyline in which Shirley's parents are ready for a divorce. Her mother has an affair with a friend and the father is away all the time on business, ignoring the family.

When Temple ("Molly Middleton") is happy or cute, she's too cute in here, her sugary personality overdone. Meanhwhile, there is only one song and no dance numbers. People buy or rent Shirley Temple movies to feel good, not to get depressed or weighed down with broken-family soaps. There are plenty of other movies like that.
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Our little Shirley stars in a real tear jerker but the wee gal still brings a smile to anyone's face
inkblot112 October 2008
Dr. Donald Middleton (Joel McCrea) wanted to be a research physician, discovering important cures. However, when his wife, Elsa (Rosemary Ames) became pregnant, he settled for being a smalltown, New England family physician. Still, he is conducting his own experiments on the side but the result is that he works extremely long hours. Elsa has been patient, for she loves her husband and knows he cares for her and their daughter, Molly (Shirley Temple). Dr. Don still manages to take a break for Molly's "May and September Saturdays", that is, two picnics at a local park called Heaven's gate, where Don and Elsa met. One day, a handsome, rich male neighbor returns to his mansion next door. He invites Elsa and Don to ride with him on various mornings, but only Elsa has time for it. Trouble starts to brew when the neighbor makes a big play for the beautiful Elsa and Dr. Don continues to spend more time away from the house. Just what will be the result? This is a tearjerker of a film which, nevertheless, produces giggles, also, when Shirley is on the screen with her beloved doggie, Sniff. Just like any little girl, Shirley's Molly is pretty oblivious to problems at home so she continues to sing, dance, and crack jokes, even when her parents are having severe problems. McCrea is very good as the fine but workaholic father while Ames is pretty and touching as the neglected wife. All other lesser actors do a nice job, too. The picnic scenes are beautiful, the costumes quite acceptable, and the storyline is a true heartgrabber. Therefore, if you want to see Shirley in a smile-through-my-tears little flick, get this one soon. It might even bring estranged couples together again, for its support of marital reconciliation is very uplifting, even as the kiddies are entertained, too.
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Molly in the Middle
lugonian19 April 2008
OUR LITTLE GIRL (Fox, 1935), directed by John Robertson, a domestic drama taken from a story "Heaven's Gate," stars Shirley Temple, Joel McCrea and someone by the name of Rosemary Ames (in her final screen appearance following a very brief movie career). Similar in theme to RKO Radio's WEDNESDAY'S CHILD (1934) that revolves around a boy (Frankie Thomas) whose happy home is disrupted by the separation of his parents (Edward Arnold and Karen Morley), OUR LITTLE GIRL centers around the moppet Temple facing the same situation of her own, but without any courtroom or child custody battles, which might have helped quicken the pace or added more interest to a somewhat slow scenario.

Set in a small town, the plot introduces the Middletons as a happy family: Donald (Joel McCrea), a respectable doctor; Elsa (Rosemary Ames), his loving wife, and their little girl, Molly (Shirley Temple) who looks forward to their twice a year family picnic each May and September Saturday at a park called Heaven's Gate. Donald works long and hard on his experiments along with his assistant, Sarah Boiton (Erin O'Brien-Moore), a nurse who's secretly in love with him. Because he's away from home too often, Elsa spends much of her lonely hours with Rolfe Brent (Lyle Talbot), her former horse breading beau who recently has moved into town from Europe. Due to Donald's misunderstanding and jealously towards Elsa and Rolfe, the couple argue, leading little Molly to find herself caught in the middle of things, and unable to comprehend why her father will no longer be living with them anymore. After overhearing a conversation between her mother and Rolfe that has her believing that she's the cause for her parent's separation, Molly decides to take matters into her own hands by leaving home.

A minor Temple drama with little of the Temple formula intact. Aside from singing a lullaby to her doll and later playing Stephen Foster's "Banjo on My Knee" on the piano, there are no songs nor dance numbers. Considering its theme, song interludes have no precedence in the story, though some slight doses of humor including Temple on the seesaw with her dog, Sniffy, as examples that keep the narrative from becoming strictly melodramatic. Unlike her more recent releases, OUR LITTLE GIRL, is the only one of Temple's leading roles that can be categorized as strictly "B" product, considering it being the shortest (63 minutes) of her starring film roles.

Others in the supporting cast consist of Poodles Hannerton as the Circus Performer; Margaret Armstrong (Amy, the Middleton housekeeper); Ruth Owin (Alice) and Leonard Carey (Jackson), each as Brent's servants; and best of all, J. Farrell MacDonald billed as Mr. Tramp, playing a homeless man who comforts little Molly by listening to her story as to why she's leaving home. This little scene is well handled, with some humor in spoken dialog by Shirley thrown in for good measure. Watch for it.

OUR LITTLE GIRL became one of many Temple movies to become available on video cassette during the late 1980s and then on DVD in both black and white and colorized formats. Formerly presented on The Disney Channel in the 1980s in colorized version, it then turned up on American Movie Classics as part of its Sunday morning "Kids Classics" (1996-2001), and finally on the Fox Movie Channel in its original black and white format. Bob Dorian, former host of AMC, once commented in his profile about OUR LITTLE GIRL in saying that its working title "Heaven's Gate" had been changed prior to release due to it the name suggesting a cemetery, leaving an indication as being a movie about death.

Although OUR LITTLE GIRL didn't turn out as interesting as the rarely seen WEDNESDAY'S CHILD (1934), nor become the Academy Award winner as KRAMER Vs. KRAMER (1979), it's one of those little movies that might have been better had it not been hampered by a weak script. Had it not been for "Our Little Girl" Shirley Temple in the title role keeping the story alive with her know-how performance, then this minor effort of hers would certainly have ended up along with many old Fox Films to be either lost, forgotten or both. (**1/2)
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Though treacly, this film involves a serious look at divorce through the eyes of a small child.
Michael-11017 August 1999
Unusual for its time, "Our Little Girl" is about the disintegration of a marriage as seen through the eyes of a little girl. Dad's a busy and preoccupied doctor and medical researcher who is oblivious to his family and his adoring nurse. Mom's bored and lonely at home and Dad won't hear of her coming back to work in the office. Rolfe, a rich horsey neighbor, takes her riding and you know the rest. What's interesting, however, is how the breakup of the marriage impacts the life of the little girl. She is baffled and disoriented and she blames herself for destroying her parents' happiness. She can't warm up to Rolfe who tries unsuccessfully to buy her friendship. Ultimately, she runs away from home. Things are whitewashed by an implausible feel-good happy ending but up to that point the treatment of the catastrophic effects of divorce on a small child is done very well. Shirley, of course, is adorable as always.
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At Heaven's Gate With Shirley Temple
Ron Oliver21 September 2001
OUR LITTLE GIRL struggles valiantly to understand why her loving parents can no longer love each other.

Little Shirley Temple, Hollywood's greatest star at the time, enlivens what might without her have been just another soap opera. With smiles & tears, she beguiles the audience into completely identifying with her joys & tribulations. Even in a minor picture such as this, her abundant charm & talent still bare testimony to her utterly unassailable niche in American film history.

As her parents - and it's rare for Shirley to have both throughout an entire film - Rosemary Ames & Joel McCrea both nicely underplay their roles, providing strong assistance to Shirley but without overshadowing her, as is proper. McCrea's medical researches & Miss Ames' horseback riding are mere contrivances used to move the plot along - they are never allowed to eclipse the Tiny Tot.

Lyle Talbot & Erin O'Brien-Moore deftly play the significant others in the lives of Shirley's parents; thankfully, each is presented gently, leaving the story without any unnecessary abrasion. Wonderful character actor J. Farrell MacDonald sparks the end of the film with his sympathetic portrayal of a wise, friendly tramp.
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Adorable but like many of the Shirley Temple films, it's got some pretty traumatic material considering it's supposed to be a family movie.
MartinHafer16 January 2016
While I enjoy the old Shirley Temple films, I am occasionally shocked at how depressing and scary many of the plots were. In one, she is separated from her father and is pursued by a creepy guy who keeps offering to take her out and buy her candy, in MANY she's an orphan and in this one she's in the middle of two parents who are divorcing! Family-friendly, perhaps, but definitely films with a dark side.

In this film, it begins with the Middleton family being happy as can be. Their daughter, Molly (Temple) is adored and everything seems just peachy. However, over time you notice that Dr. Middleton (Joel McCrea) is often so wrapped up in his work that he neglects his sweet wife, Elsa (Rosemary Ames). It's obvious to everyone but him that his wife is lonely and needs him. Eventually, she sets her eyes on the Doc's best friend, Rolfe Brent (Lyle Talbot) and soon she and Brent are in love...and she's seeking a divorce! Molly naturally is effected by all this and eventually runs away! Will these dopey parents give up their selfish ways and make a family for Molly once again? What do you think?!

Like so many of Shirley's films, this one is an obvious object lesson on good parenting and the importance of family. So, despite being a tiny bit traumatic, it does all end well and emphasizes good old fashioned values. It is a bit of a departure, though, as in this one Shirley does NOT sing and the film has a much more compact plot than usual...hence its very short running time compared to her other full-length films. Well worth seeing and sweet.
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Shirley's mixed up in a love quadrangle
weezeralfalfa20 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
During this film, a love quadrangle develops, then dissipates at the last moment. The wife and Doctor husband love each other, and have a 6 year old girl(Shirley), but the wife feels unfulfilled, now that her daughter is less dependent on her, and she doesn't have a job to keep her busy. She is distraught by her cramped social life, with her husband working long hours on his patients and his research. The husband's current nurse is in love with him, but the husband seems not interested in her romantically, although he much appreciates her. The husband's playboy friend strikes up a friendly relationship with the wife, and they spend more time together, mostly at sports, than does the husband and wife. Eventually, they imagine they are in love, and make plans for a quickie divorce and marriage, with Shirley living with the wife and new husband. But Shirley doesn't like her stepfather-to-be, partly, because he "doesn't know how to be a daddy". So, Shirley packs up a few things and hits the road with her little dog. She comes upon a talkative tramp who inquires about her destination. She's going to her favorite picnic spot, by a stream. The husband comes upon the tramp and is told where she says she's going. The wife isn't far behind. They find her unharmed, enjoying her lunch, and decide it's best for Shirley if they don't separate. The 3 end happily reunited.

The problem with the screenplay is that nothing has been solved. The husband, wife and Shirley are in the same situation they began with. So, how long is their new found bliss going to last? One obvious solution is for the wife to get a job to keep her busy. But, perhaps she would only be happy working as a nurse, as she did before Shirley was born. But, this is a small town, so there may not be any openings for a nurse. Hubbie likes his current nurse and doesn't want to give her up. So, perhaps they would have to move to a city to find a nursing job. Another possibility would be to have another child, if this was agreeable to both. Still another possibility is to get active in several organizations.

This is a very unusual S.T. film, in that she has both parents all the way through. I'm surprised the Hays commission allowed this theme. I've read they frowned on divorce subjects, although there was no actual divorce here. In most of Shirley's films, she's an orphan or missing one of her parents. In no case I'm aware of was the parent missing because of divorce.

If you want to see and hear Shirley sing and dance, this isn't the right film. If you just enjoy the cute, vivacious, little girl, this film may satisfy you.
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How Cute Was Shirley!!!
kidboots6 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"Our Little Girl" was what the movie going public of the mid 1930s thought of Shirley Temple, but it didn't have quite the success of her earlier films. She wasn't required to burst into song and dance everyone's troubles away, she was needed to be a Little Miss Fixit but only as a little girl caught up in the affairs of wayward adults (Nova Pilbeam was far more convincing in "Little Friend"). This must be one of her only films that give her both a father and a mother, with nothing dire happening to either one of them along the way.

Donald Middleton (Joel McCrea) is a small town doctor who let domesticity get in the way of his dreams but he is more than making up for it with countless important "experiments" taking him away from Elsa (Rosemary Ames) and little Molly. Trouble is brewing early on when Don almost misses "May Saturday", a picnic at idyllic "Heaven's Gate" where Don and Elsa first met and it is there that they meet new neighbour Ralfe Brent (Lyle Talbot). Donald, being as obtuse as he is, keeps throwing Elsa and Ralfe together, even though Ralfe comments "I wouldn't like to leave my wife with me" etc and Nurse Boynton (Erin O'Brien Moore) is only too eager to console Don.

Of course Shirley Temple is the star so there are lots of cute scenes of Shirley testing a cake, playing with Sniff, patting little foals and enjoying the park. But strangely enough no singing except for a pretty mournful lullaby to her doll. By the time "September Saturday" comes around the parents are headed for the divorce court and daddy ends up taking Molly to the circus but, as usual, is called away to the hospital and in the confusion Molly decides to take Sniff for their own "Heaven's Gate" picnic. Along the way she meets a philosophical tramp (J. Farrell MacDonald) who ends up giving Don a lecture on what is important in life!!

Joel McCrea was between contracts in 1935 hence his appearance in "Our Little Girl" (apparently Shirley developed a big crush on him) but he was seen to better advantage as yet another overworked doctor in "Private Worlds". Rosemary Ames was promoted as Fox's big new star in "I Believed in You" (1934) but it was a disaster and Fox believed no more in Rosemary.
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Warning: Diabetes-inducing
brausahol1 August 2003
The issue of divorce and how it affects children is only marginally dealt with in this cloying story of a happy family torn apart by a rotten script. Too much time is spent on the cutesy antics of Shirley Temple, while too little time is devoted to the development of the plot and characters. In this 65-minute programmer, things happen at lightning speed, with little logic or motivation behind them. Thus, the marital split of the two leads comes too suddenly and seems unrealistic. The same can be said about the relationship between the soon-to-be-ex-wife and her wealthy suitor. The adult cast is passable, but Temple is unbearably sugary. Director John S. Robertson, used to handling costume pictures during the silent era, should have realized that less is more when it comes to baby grins and baby pouts. Make sure you check your blood-sugar level after watching this one.
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Curly Top - Marriage Counsellor
Waiting2BShocked26 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Even today, it's doubtful that anyone settling down to a Temple movie will have 'accidentally' stumbled upon it whilst browsing, and knows what they're letting themselves in for. Temple's vehicles are a sub-genre of their own and, in terms of cinematic artistry, are amongst the kind of films who's best critics by far are their own core audience.

The plot of OLG seems the kind of mawkish fare that Miss Curly Top was a dab-hand at resolving with a starry smile and a twinkly eye - mum and dad's marriage hits the rocks, divorce beckons following infidelity, and Shirley is of course caught up in the middle of it all.

This particular entry somewhat subverts the given formula however, and throughout the film's brief hour-long running time the perspective is in the main unusually dour. Whilst we're not exactly talking 'Requiem For A Dream', there is no sanguine song-and-dance routine to make everything alright here. It takes a runaway Shirley, one of those stock-character post-depression aphoristic hobos, and much wincing solemnity on the part of respected Thesps McCrea and Ames to win the day.

Director Robertson apparently chose not to heed WC Fields' advice regarding children and animals, having already directed a version of 'Annie' in 1932, and having to contend with a lot of one and a little of the other here too. One has to wonder whether there was any sadistic pleasure taken in the fabled 'dead animals' factor necessary for Temple's required tears quota, which on this occasion would certainly have been higher than usual.
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Little Miss Perfect Strikes Again.
mark.waltz20 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Can Shirley Temple do no wrong? Not in the eye of her Fox employers who continuously cast her as the type of child genius that could reconcile estranged couples, bring peace to waring families and make cranky elders smile even without the benefit of smiling muscles. No temper tantrums or behavioral adjustment medications for her. Not our Miss Shirley.

Sometimes this formula worked ("Little Miss Marker", "Heidi"), sometimes it didn't. But audiences of the 30's didn't mind and many don't today. In the case of "Our Little Girl", it is cute at first, but truly unrealistic. Joel McCrea is a hard-working doctor, Rosemary Ames his housewife and Temple their child psychiatrist who weathers their storms of tempted infatuations and runs away seemingly just to teach them a lesson.

One scene in the film truly disturbed me, where McCrea, driving down a curvy country road, allows Temple to climb all over him and then try to grab something in the convertible's back seat. Another has Ames and McCrea out for the evening (seperately) and Temple left without an apparent baby sitter. I felt that these sequences should have been accompanied by subtitles which stated "Do Not Try This at Home".
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"Oh Mommy, Here's Daddy"
bkoganbing5 March 2010
Haul out the bathtowels on this one. No parents like Joel McCrea and Rosemary Ames are getting divorced as long as they have an offspring like Shirley Temple to keep them together.

Our Little Girl finds America's favorite moppet the daughter of the aforementioned couple. Joel is a research doctor who takes a small country practice to both support his wife and his daughter. But he gets so involved in his experiments he's leaving his wife alone to the attention of his playboy neighbor Lyle Talbot. And he's looking like someone his nurse Erin O'Brien-Moore just might be able to catch on the rebound.

The film had a great deal more potential than what we got. It could have been a serious look at divorce through a child's eyes. I think that's what they were trying for at Fox, but the problem was that Shirley's audiences expected things to go a certain way in her films. So Fox gave them the typical Shirley and then some. It was the 'and then some' that doomed this film to a weepy soggy mess.
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