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Dimples (1936 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam A. Seiter
Written byNat Perrin
Arthur Sheekman
Produced byNunnally Johnson
Darryl F. Zanuck
StarringShirley Temple
Frank Morgan
Helen Westley
CinematographyBert Glennon
Music byJimmy McHugh
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • October 16, 1936 (1936-10-16)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1 million[1]

Dimples is a 1936 American musical drama film directed by William A. Seiter. The screenplay was written by Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman. The film is about a young mid-nineteenth century street entertainer (Shirley Temple) who is separated from her pickpocket grandfather (Frank Morgan) when given a home by a wealthy New York City widow (Helen Westley). The film was panned by the critics. Videocassette and DVD versions of the film were available in 2009.


In New York City in 1853, 8-year-old Dimples is a Bowery busker living with her pickpocket grandfather "Professor" Eustace Appleby. She is hired to entertain at a soiree in the Washington Square Park home of wealthy widow Caroline Drew. Mrs. Drew is so charmed by Dimples she opens her home and heart to the child, providing her a life of comfort and plenty.

Mrs. Drew's nephew Allen, a theatrical producer, abandons his sweetheart Betty Loring for haughty actress Cleo Marsh. His family is scandalized, but Allen pursues his goal of staging a brand-new play, Uncle Tom's Cabin, with Dimples portraying Little Eva.

During rehearsals, Dimples longs for her grandfather and returns to his humble dwelling, refusing to budge without the old man in tow. Mrs. Drew traces Dimples to the Bowery and a solution is found to the impasse. Allen realizes he loves Betty and is reunited with her. Dimples ultimately appears in New York City's first minstrel show.


  • Shirley Temple as Sylvia 'Dimples' Dolores Appleby, a 8-year-old girl who is a street entertainer in New York City circa 1850 and Professor Appleby's granddaughter
  • Frank Morgan as Professor Eustace Appleby, a 46-year-old man who is a pickpocket and Dimples's grandfather
  • Helen Westley as Mrs. Caroline Drew, Allen's aunt and Dimples's patroness
  • Robert Kent as Allen Drew, a theatrical producer and Caroline Drew's nephew
  • Astrid Allwyn as Cleo Marsh, a haughty actress and Allen's sudden romantic interest
  • Delma Byron as Betty Loring, Allen's betrothed and the daughter of Colonel Loring
  • Berton Churchill as Colonel Jasper Loring, Betty's father
  • Julius Tannen as Emery T. Hawkins, a swindler
  • John Carradine as Richards, a swindler
  • Stepin Fetchit as Cicero, a servant
  • Billy McClain as Rufus
  • Jack Clifford as Uncle Tom, a character in Allen's new play
  • Betty Jean Hainey as Topsy, a character in Allen's new play
  • Paul Stanton as Mr. St. Clair, a character in Allen's new play
  • The Hall Johnson Choir as Choir


This movie was originally to be titled The Bowery Princess but was changed as it was deemed too coarse for Temple's image.

There was a great deal of friction on the set of this movie as Morgan and Temple repeatedly tried to steal scenes from one another. Morgan would place his stovepipe hat on a table blocking Temple's face and forcing her to move her marks and out of the camera lights. He would also keep moving his hands near her eye level by tinkering with a handkerchief or placing on gloves. Temple for her part would either yawn or scratch her face. In the scene where Morgan's character gets ripped off by con men, Temple jiggled the fishing pole she was holding in the background in an attempt to draw attention away from Morgan. She also worked with Robinson to devise ways of creating rhythmic pauses and gestures in her dance movements to prevent scene stealing from Morgan. Producer Nunally Johnson, commenting on the scene stealing, remarked that "When this picture is over, either Shirley will have acquired a taste for Scotch whiskey or Frank will come out with curls."[2]


The film's songs – "Hey, What Did the Blue Jay Say", "He Was a Dandy", "Picture Me Without You", "Get On Board", "Dixie-anna", and "Wings of the Morning" – were written by Jimmy McHugh and lyricist Ted Koehler. The dances were choreographed by Bill Robinson who appeared with Temple in four films and partnered her for the famous staircase tap dance in The Little Colonel.

Sony Computer Entertainment later used the song Get On Board for a PlayStation 2 advertisement entitled "Mountain".[3]


Critical reception


Temple scholar Robert Windeler notes that Temple was upstaged for the first time in one of her pictures.

Home media

The film was released on DVD on March 12, 2002.[5] In 2009, a videocassette was available in the original black and white and in computer-colorized versions of the original. Some editions included theatrical trailers and other special features.

See also


Works cited
  • Edwards, Anne (1988), Shirley Temple: American Princess, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
  • Windeler, Robert (1992) [1978], The Films of Shirley Temple, New York: Carol Publishing Group, ISBN 0-8065-0725-X
Web citations
  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 217
  2. ^ Shirley Temple Black, "Child Star: An Autobiography" (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1988), 141-144.
  3. ^ Video for the Playstation ad featuring Shirley Temple's "Get On Board" on YouTube
  4. ^ Nugent Frank S. (1936-10-10). "Miss Temple Plays Little Eva in 'Dimples,' at the Roxy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  5. ^ "Dimples". hive4media.com. Archived from the original on March 27, 2002. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
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Dimples (1936 film)
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