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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Brief explanation of the purpose of a lighthouse -- to aid seagoing vessels and help them find their way to shore.
No material possessions can provide the joy of having "the right someone" to love and care for. Having a sunny disposition and being a good person are to be admired. Good people win and happy endings are possible.
Positive Role Models
People are generally open-hearted and generous; lots of townspeople take an interest in and help provide for the orphan girl who lives with the lighthouse keeper. The working-class villagers are uneducated, use poor grammar and are somewhat ignorant of the larger world. A school truant officer is mean-spirited, rigid, and without empathy. In a surprising shift from many films of the period, the two rich, successful characters are honorable, sensitive, and giving.
Violence & Scariness
There is one wrenching moment when a sheriff physically removes a little girl from the arms of her beloved guardian. There's a mild scuffle as Cap tries to prevent it. In cartoon fashion, on separate occasions, the villainous truant officer is kicked in the rear, has her toe purposefully stepped on, and falls.
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Lots of exaggerated insults tossed back and forth between two feisty elderly men who are good friends: "sea cow," "river rat," "son-of-a-sea-slug," "dumbbell," "lopsided old swab," "blubberhead," "albatross."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Two elderly gents drink "cider" from mugs to celebrate.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this black-and-white Shirley Temple musical includes a sequence in which little Star is forcibly taken from "Cap," the self-assigned guardian who has raised her since infancy. It's a sad moment, but is resolved soon afterward. In addition, there is an early brief mention of death in which Star asks Cap, "Does everyone have to die?" and "Will I die, too?" His answers are vague enough and gentle enough to be both satisfying and comforting to the child. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is one of Shirley Temple's best movies, and it provides an opportunity to discuss some of the most sensitive issues facing some children. When Star is taken away from Cap, she asks, "Why are they taking me away from you? What have I done?" This provides the opportunity to talk to children about how many kids mistakenly blame themselves for problems created by the grown-ups around them. While the movie depicts the difficulty of finding work, especially after a job has been made obsolete, in the end, this is a "happily ever after" movie. Some children may not connect with the story's perfect ending in which a rather desperate situation is tied up into a neat package, just in the nick of time.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.