Bright Eyes Movie Poster Image

Bright Eyes

This "Good Ship Lollipop" is sweet, but sad, too.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1934
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Joy is a spoiled brat and the Smythes take care of Uncle Ned just to get his money. But Shirley's sweet view of the world and unconditional love of those around her win over everyone.

Positive role models

Shirley is a sweet girl but she also hitchhikes and runs around by herself in adult places, like airports and down streets.


Joy bullies Shirley, threatening to run her over playing "railroad," and tears up a doll she threw away so Shirley can't have it. Joy's mother slaps Joy's face. Shirley's mother gets hit by a car. Loop and Shirley jump out of a plane in foul weather and nearly fly off a cliff.


Loop and Adele kiss once.

Not applicable

Pilots fly for American Airlines and they wear American Airlines flight gear.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Loop smokes cigarettes and cigars.

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.

Kids say

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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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 28, 1934
DVD/Streaming release date:November 22, 2005
Cast:James Dunn, Michael Angelis, Shirley Temple
Director:David Butler
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:situations troubling to younger children

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Parent of a 4 and 6 year old Written byheather13 January 7, 2012

More violent than expected

Watched this tonight with my two girls who are 3 and 6. Shame on me for not watching it alone first or checking out this website like I do for every current movie! It was much too scary for my youngest who was concerned about the mother who is hit by a car and shown lying on the ground (I was able to divert their attention enough to minimize the situation). Shirley's father is already deceased in the film but that is handled very well and she is a very happy, gentle child. There is a lot of action with young kids versus adult dialogue which kept both of my children well entertained. We discussed the brattiness of the other girl in the film, but I basically turned off the movie soon after the mother died. My older daughter was able to follow what was happening but wasn't negatively affected. I think it's a great film to select scene by scene, as there are some great messages. One other possible concern - the bratty child questions whether there is a Santa but of course others are adamant that he exists.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008
Parent Written byStepMomSterToo June 26, 2010

A True Classic

I love this movie. There is bullying, but nothing a kid can't relate to in some way. As long as your kids know this is not good behavior, which the movie clearly shows in the unlikeable bully. The mother does die, so that is a bit emotional, but having seen this as a kid myself (around 9), I found it to be touching but not damaging. There is no death scene. There is the sound of a car accident, but no visual of the death. Younger kids (8 and younger) might find this troubling. Know your kids! I think this movie is wonderful and uplifting, a true classic. Death is a part of life, but parents will have to make the call.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models