The Little Colonel
Shirley Temple's first costume picture -- and one of her best pictures of any kind -- was 1935's The Little Colonel. The story begins in 1870, when unreconstructed Southerner Colonel Lloyd (Lionel Barrymore) disowns his daughter Elizabeth (Evelyn Venable) when she stubbornly marries damn-Yankee Jack Sherman (John Lodge). Several years pass, during which time the Shermans' daughter, Lloyd (Temple), dubbed "the little colonel," is born. When Jack and Elizabeth suffer a series of financial reverses, they are compelled to move into a small cottage owned by Elizabeth, near her father's estate. As tenacious and opinionated as her grandpa, little Lloyd befriends the crusty old codger and tries to effect a reunion between the colonel and Elizabeth. Her efforts at first meet with failure, but when the ailing Jack is imperiled by all-around villain Swazey (Sidney Blackmer) does the colonel race to the rescue, with the "little colonel" leading the way. The film's brief Technicolor finale, long missing from TV prints, was restored in the mid-'80s. Why Fox felt that Technicolor was needed is a mystery; Shirley Temple's name in and of itself was the principal drawing card of The Little Colonel, while Temple's famous stair-dance duet with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was worth the admission price in itself.