What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Shirley's mother dies in a car accident halfway through the film. Plus, Joy and her parents are mean and manipulative toward her. Shirley remains happy despite losing both parents, which may be confusing to kids. Shirley also hitchhikes and runs around by herself in adult places, like airports and down streets.
What's the story?
Shirley Temple stars as Shirley Blake, the sweet and cheerful daughter of Mary, a maid whose husband died in the war. Mary keeps his memory alive by wearing his pilot's wings on her uniform, and the pilots at the nearby airport who knew and loved Mary's husband and family. When Shirley isn't hitchhiking to the airport to see her pilot buddy Loop (James Dunn), she's avoiding Joy (Jane Withers), the nasty daughter of the selfish family Mary works for. When Mary suffers a terrible accident, her friends and family must decide what to do with "Bright Eyes," Uncle Ned's (Charles Sellon) affectionate name for Shirley. Along the way, Shirley enchants everyone in her path.
Is it any good?
Like the song at the center of the film, "On the Good Ship Lollipop," Bright Eyes is a sweet story with a candy coating. But there are some sad, bitter scenes in the center of this confection that may be too tough on younger viewers, and there are a lot of things that kids today probably won't relate to. This Depression-era film has a certain kind of class consciousness: the rich people are mean, nasty, and manipulative, prone to throwing fits, lying, and cheating to get what they want.
The class divide is most obvious between out-of-control Joy (Jane Withers) and Shirley. If the difference between Shirley and Joy is that Joy is cruel and Shirley is always kind and sweet, that leaves no room for Shirley to be sad about her mother's death. Shirley cries once but then is happy ever after. For kids who often feel like they have to make others around them happy, this isn't the right message.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how it's OK to be sad when you lose someone you love. Why do you think they gave Shirley such a sunny attitude after losing both parents? Parents can talk about what was going on in 1934 that may have led to the popularity of Shirley Temple movies.