The Shirley Temple Collection: Volume Three

As long as there has been film, there have been cute little child actors. Out of all of them, you can still mention Shirley Temple today and everyone will know exactly whom you are talking about. Yes, the singing, dancing, dimpled little box office magnet is getting her third wave of DVD releases from Fox Home Video this week in those trademark pink cases.

This wave includes another three titles from the repertoire of Shirley Temple: "The Littlest Rebel," "Dimples," and "The Little Colonel." If only I had known while growing up that being able to sing and dance could get you as many places in life as it does Shirley Temple in these three films, I might have taken it up when I was a kid. But then, I'm not as cute as she is. But I digress.

Shirley is caught up in turmoil when war breaks out and her father goes off to fight in "The Littlest Rebel." When her mother turns gravely ill, her father returns home to check on the family. The problem is that he finds himself captured by Yankee soldiers who sentence him to execution. To save him, Virgie (Shirley Temple) finds herself trying to charm her old Uncle Billy (played by the legendary Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson) to help her save him -- and calling on President Lincoln to do so.

She's got a smile that can even turn a criminal straight. As the title character in "Dimples," Shirley does not at all like the fact that her grandfather Eustice (Frank Morgan) is a pickpocket. Dimples entertains the street crowds while Eustice cleans out the charmed viewers. When things go awry at a high-class party, Dimples gets nabbed -- and has to find a way to get back to Eustice -- and may just end up being a legitimate actress along the way.

Marrying a Yankee? The deuce you say! When Elizabeth Lloyd (Evelyn Venable) marries a Yankee she commits the ultimate sin. As a result, she is shunned by her former Confederate General father (Lionel Barrymore) -- and he vows never to speak to her again. What could possibly change this situation? After years pass, Evelyn returns home with her daughter (Shirley Temple) who manages to melt that hardened exterior like a hot knife through butter. Look for Hattie McDaniel playing off of Shirley Temple before she went on to win an Oscar in "Gone With The Wind!"

The thing with Shirley Temple films is that the story is almost incidental. These films are there for the singing, the dancing (which was choreographed by "Bojangles" Robinson in all three of these movies) and the happy ending. Even today these films stand for a type of entertainment that is almost sugary sweet in their ability to make you feel good. The only caveat is that as with many older films, outlooks and attitudes have changed. There are racial stereotypes and dialogue that isn't kosher with how today's society and may require some explaining to the younger viewers.

All three films are beautifully restored in their original black-and-white versions. If however you are unable to accept the fact that not everything was always in color, you can put on your imaginary rose colored glasses -- there is a colorized version of the film on each disc as well. In my opinion it is still the equivalent of using paint to fill in an Ansel Adams photograph to alter a film in this way and shouldn't be done. But as long as the uncorrupted original version is available as well, I'm willing to compromise with the horror. All three films are presented in their original aspect ratio and have mono and 2 track stereo audio tracks. There are no extras on these discs.

Even with a little explanation required for some stereotypes, even with the (shudder) colorization, these three Shirley Temple films stand as good old family entertainment that have withstood the tests of time. They are now here to entertain another generation through the wonder of DVD and the cutest little singing and dancing marvel has never looked better.

STUDIO: Fox Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2006
PRICE: $14.98 each
TIME: 219 mins. (total)
DVD EXTRAS: Black and white or colorized versions of the film
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