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On this Day in Movie History, April 19, 1934: Shirley Temple's breakthrough film

On this Day in Movie History, April 19, 1934: Shirley Temple Appears in Her Breakthrough Film
Warner Brothers

On this day April 19, 1934, Stand Up and Cheer! became Temple’s breakthrough film. Her charm was evident to Fox heads and she was promoted well before the film’s release. Within months, she became the symbol of wholesome family entertainment. Her salary was raised to $1,250 a week, and her mother’s to $150 as coach and hairdresser. (Imagine making this kind of money in the heart of the Great Depression.)

Although she had been signed by Educational Pictures as early as January 1932 following a talent search at the dance school, and appeared in a series of one-reelers called Baby Burlesks, and a series of two-reelers called Frolics of Youth playing Mary Lou Rogers, a youngster in a contemporary suburban family, it was Stand Up and Cheer! that was her breakthrough.

Stand Up and Cheer! an American musical film directed by Hamilton MacFadden, screenplay by Lew Brown and Ralph Spence, was based upon a story idea by Will Rogers and Philip Klein about efforts undertaken during the Great Depression to boost the morale of the country. It is essentially a vehicle for a string of vaudeville acts and a few musical numbers.

In Stand Up and Cheer! the President of the United States decides that the true cause of the Great Depression (raging when the film was released) is a loss of “optimism” as a result of a plot by financiers and bankers who are getting rich from the Depression. (does this sound vaguely familiar?) The President appoints Lawrence Cromwell as secretary for the newly created Department of Amusement (must have been a Dem idea!) Cromwell creates an army of entertainers and sends them out across the country.

Much of the action in this film centers around Cromwell auditioning acts in his office (with interruptions from janitor “George Bernard Shaw” played by Steppin Fetchit).

At the end, as a musical production number breaks forth, Cromwell looks out of his office window and sees the Depression literally, instantaneously lift.

Often marketed as a Shirley Temple motion picture, the child star played a very minor role in the film and had very little screen time.

The film has come under criticism in recent years due to its racially offensive stereotypes. Most of the racist content has been edited out in recent versions of the film.

1923 – Hugh O.Brian (Krampke) (actor: In Harm’s Way, Little Big Horn, There’s No Business like Show Business, Twins, Broken Lance, Ten Little Indians, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp)

1930 – Dick Sargent (Richard Cox) (actor: Bewitched, That Touch of Mink, Body Count, Fantasy Island; died July 8, 1994)

1933 – Jayne Mansfield (Vera Jane Palmer) (actress: Pete Kelly’s Blues, It Takes a Thief, The Girl Can’t Help It; killed in car crash near New Orleans LA June 29, 1967)

1935 – Dudley Moore (actor: Arthur, Arthur 2, 10, Crazy People, Parallel Lives, Bedazzled, The Hound of the Baskervilles; died Mar 27, 2002)

1937 – Elinor Donahue (actress: Father Knows Best, The Andy Griffith Show, Get a Life, Pretty Woman)

1946 – Tim Curry (actor: Muppet Treasure Island, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Oscar, Stephen King’s It, The Hunt for Red October, Oliver Twist, Annie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, My Favorite Year, Amadeus, Hair, Wiseguy, The Legend of Prince Valiant, voice of King Chicken in cartoon: Duckman, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)

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