The Blue Bird

( 3 )

Overview

When Darryl F. Zanuck's arrangement to loan Shirley Temple to MGM as star of The Wizard of Oz fell through, Zanuck hastily assembled a lavish Technicolor vehicle for his diminutive star which, he hoped, would match Wizard in popularity and appeal. The result was The Blue Bird, adapted from the allegorical stage play by Maurice Maeterlinck (previously filmed by director Maurice Tourneur in 1918). In emulation of The Wizard of Oz, The Blue Bird was bookended with black-and-white sequences, reserving Technicolor for...
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Overview

When Darryl F. Zanuck's arrangement to loan Shirley Temple to MGM as star of The Wizard of Oz fell through, Zanuck hastily assembled a lavish Technicolor vehicle for his diminutive star which, he hoped, would match Wizard in popularity and appeal. The result was The Blue Bird, adapted from the allegorical stage play by Maurice Maeterlinck (previously filmed by director Maurice Tourneur in 1918). In emulation of The Wizard of Oz, The Blue Bird was bookended with black-and-white sequences, reserving Technicolor for the fantasy "body" of the film; similarly, Gale Sondergaard, who had been the first choice to play the Wicked Witch of the West in Wizard, was cast as Blue Bird's nominal villainess. Set in mid-Europe sometime in the late 18th century, the story concerns Mytyl (Temple and Tyltyl (John Russell), the children of a woodchopper (Russell Hicks) who has been called to fight in a faraway war. Heartbroken, the kids decide to run away from home in search of the Bluebird of Happiness, which will ostensibly solve all their problems. Falling asleep, Mytyl and Tyltyl dream that the good fairy Berylune (Jessie Berylune) is leading them on that search, accompanied by their household pets Tylo (a dog) and Tylette (a cat), who have assumed human form (and as such are repectively played by Eddie Collins and the aforementioned Gale Sondergaard). Before arriving at the far-from-unexpected realization that the elusive Bluebird of Happiness is no further than their own backyard, the two kiddies undergo a variety of astonishing experiences, including a raging forest fire (a triumph of 20th Century-Fox special-effects master Fred Sersen) and an oddly unsettling visit to "The Land of the Unborn." Rather heavy going for its intended family audience, The Blue Bird proved to be Shirley Temple's biggest flop, and a subsequent 1976 US-Soviet version starring Elizabeth Taylor fared no better at the box office.
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Special Features

Shirley Temple theater: The Little Princess featurette
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Comparisons between The Blue Bird and The Wizard of Oz are perhaps inevitable, given that The Blue Bird was put into production in response to The Wizard and that two of its stars (Shirley Temple and Gale Sondergaard) had been sought for Wizard. Bird falls far short in comparison with the MGM classic in almost all categories, but taken on its own, it's decent children's entertainment. Certainly, Bird's flaws are not due to monetary constraints; a great deal of money was lavished on the production, and it's all there on the screen. The costumes and sets are undeniably impressive, and the special effects are first rate, with the forest fire sequence simply stunning. Unfortunately, despite all the money, the end result simply isn't magical. It never really takes wing, tending to plod instead -- mainly because, for all the talk of a search for an elusive blue bird (of happiness), there's never any real sense of urgency or purpose to the film. Instead, it meanders along from one segment to another -- and since those segments are not especially interesting, and since the characters are not particularly well developed, the film never really makes an impact. The cast is good, although Temple is not ideally suited to the role of a selfish girl whose self-centeredness keeps her from being happy. Bird's visual delights and the appeal of its performers make it worth a glance, especially for young viewers; but its episodic nature and lack of genuine excitement may cause attention to stray.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/27/2007
  • UPC: 024543381877
  • Original Release: 1940
  • Rating:

  • Source: Fox Searchlight
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Subtitled / Pan & Scan / Dubbed
  • Time: 1:23:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 43,402

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Shirley Temple Mytyl Tyl
Spring Byington Mummy Tyl
Nigel Bruce Mr. Luxury
Gale Sondergaard Tylette
Eddie Collins Tylo, the dog
Stanley Andrews Wilhelm
Scotty Beckett
Laura Hope Crews Mrs. Luxury
Dorothy Dearing Cypress
Claire Du Brey Nurse
Edward Earle Maple Tree
Helen Ericson Light
Diane Fisher
Thurston Hall Father Time
Russell Hicks Daddy Tyl
Sterling Holloway Wild Plum
Brandon Hurst Footman
Sybil Jason Angela Berligot
Cecilia Loftus Granny Tyl
Edwin Maxwell Oak
Jessie Ralph Fairy Berylune
Gene Reynolds Studious Boy
Leona Roberts Mrs. Berlingot
Johnny Russell Tyltyl Tyl
Al Shean Grandpa Tyl
Ann E. Todd Little Sister
Technical Credits
Walter Lang Director
Arthur C. Miller Cinematographer
Ray Rennahan Cinematographer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Walter Bullock Screenwriter
Ernest Pascal Screenwriter
Gene Markey Associate Producer
Geneva Sawyer Choreography
Robert Bischoff Editor
Darryl F. Zanuck Producer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Blue Bird
1. Main Titles [:02]
2. Caged Bird [1:27]
3. Ungrateful Child [3:38]
4. Bad News [3:58]
5. The Fairy [:16]
6. The Way to the Past [2:55]
7. Just Like Old Times [5:30]
8. The Land of Luxury [2:15]
9. Selfish and Greedy [4:57]
10. Escape [1:12]
11. The Children Must Die [6:49]
12. Running for Their Lives [:54]
13. Into the Future [6:40]
14. A Ship With Silver Sails [:19]
15. In Every Moonbeam [4:02]
16. A Gift Worth Having/End Titles [4:06]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Blue Bird
   Play
   Language Selection
      Languages
         English Mono
         English Stereo
         Spanish Mono
         French Mono
      Subtitles
         English
         Spanish
         None
   Scene Selection
   Special Features
      Shirley Temple Theater: The Little Princess
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Memorable

    Brought back a wonderful childhood memory.
    Something I remember only seeing on TV once.
    And always wanted to see it again, but didn't know the name of it,
    or even remember who was in it.
    I'll be watching it again and again.
    And sharing it with my Grandchildren.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2004

    At long last I've found it!

    I saw this movie as a child @ my grandmother's and have never forgotten one scene in particular: 'the Land of the Unborn'. The theme of love not being bound by time or space was pivotal in the development of the values I hold today...and quite a profound concept to be couched in a film intended for children! So, there is something within to rekindle hope in the most cynical adult while still being whimsical enough to entertain the kids.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2004

    Imaginative

    I loved this movie, having seen it for the first time as an adult. I especially liked when the children visit the land of the unborn - not unsettling to me at all. It is enjoyable and charming!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews