AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Alternate Title: The Bowery Princess
Director: William A. Seiter (Dir)
Release Date:   16 Oct 1936
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 9 Oct 1936
Production Date:   early May--mid-Jun 1936
Duration (in mins):   78
Duration (in feet):   7,108
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Shirley Temple (Dimples Appleby)  
    Frank Morgan (Prof. Eustace Appleby)  
    Robert Kent (Allen Drew)  
    Helen Westley (Mrs. Caroline Drew)  
    Stepin Fetchit (Cicero)  
    Astrid Allwyn (Cleo Marsh)  
    Delma Byron (Betty Loring)  
    The Hall Johnson Choir (Choir)  
    Berton Churchill (Colonel Loring)  
    Paul Stanton (Mr. St. Clair)  
    Julius Tannen (Hawkins)  
    John Carradine (Richards)  
    Billy McClain (Rufus)  
    Jack Clifford (Uncle Tom)  
    Betty Jean Hainey (Topsy)  
    Arthur Aylesworth (Pawnbroker)  
    Leonard Kibrick (Member of children's band)  
    Warner Weidler (Member of children's band)  
    Walter Weidler (Member of children's band)  
    George Weidler (Member of children's band)  
    Jesse Scott    
    Thurman Black (The Two Black Dots)  
    Herman Bing (Proprietor)  
    Greta Meyer (Proprietor's wife)  
    Robert Murphy (Policeman)  
    Fred Kelsey (Policeman)  
    A. S. "Pop" Byron (Policeman)  
    Herbert Ashley (Policeman)  
    Harry McCrillis (Additional member of children's band)  
    Ed Cook (Additional member of children's band)  
    Walter Dennis (Additional member of children's band)  
    Alex Hirshfeld (Additional member of children's band)  
    Margaret Bloodgood (Mrs. O'Casey)  
    Francis McDonald (Stranger)  
    Douglas Fowley (Stranger)  
    Fred Silva (Call boy)  
    Fred Wallace (Usher)  
    Edward LeSaint (Creditor)  
    Homer Dickinson (Creditor)  
    Wilfred Lucas (Creditor)  
    Martin Turner (Coachman)  
    David Thursby (Customer)  
    William H. Turner (Doorman)  
    Charles Tannen (Box office man)  
    Maybelle Palmer    

Summary: In the New York of 1850, "decent folk' are beginning to tolerate the theater, while "young radicals" argue against slavery. Dimples Appleby, who leads a band of children street singers, lives with her grandfather, Professor Eustace Appleby, an old actor down on his luck who now teaches acting, singing and birdcalls, and who has resorted to petty theft, rumors of which Dimples refuses to believe. The children perform at the Drew estate uptown, and Dimples is apprehended trying to escape after furs are discovered to be missing. Informed of this, the professor returns with the furs and reports that he valiantly fought a thief to get the furs back. Before leaving, Dimples sees the professor snatch a cuckoo clock. The next day, she returns it to Mrs. Caroline Drew and says that she stole it herself. The kindly Mrs. Drew is interrupted in her talk with Dimples when she learns that her beloved nephew Allen is breaking his engagement with Betty Loring, the daughter of Mrs. Drew's friend, Colonel Loring, because of his infatuation with actress Cleo Marsh. Shocked, Mrs. Drew, who hates the theater, orders Allen to break with the actress, and Allen sadly says he will leave his aunt's home. After he goes, Dimples sees Mrs. Drew crying. Mrs. Drew takes Dimples back to the professor's shabby quarters and asks him to let Dimples live with her for the girl's sake. Dimples overhears her offer the professor $5,000, and after Mrs. Drew leaves, Dimples tearfully asks the professor not to sell her, whereupon he vows he would not do that for all the money in the world. Although cut off financially from his aunt, Allen has enough savings to produce the first performance of Uncle Tom's Cabin . He auditions Dimples for the role of "Eva," and hires the professor as his assistant. After the professor loses Allen's last $800 to a gang of con-artists, Allen's creditors threaten to have someone put in jail if the company does not pay its bills. To save her grandfather, Dimples agrees to live with Mrs. Drew for the $5,000. When the professor calls on Mrs. Drew for the money, he finds Dimples crying because she is lonesome without him, and he returns Mrs. Drew's check. Before he leaves with Dimples, however, he convinces Mrs. Drew, who is attentive to his flirtations, that a worthless watch which he got from the conmen was given to Napoleon by Josephine and accepts $1,000 from Mrs. Drew for the watch. As the play is about to begin without Cleo, who left Allen when his money was gone, Dimples brings Betty, whose father forbade her to attend, to see Allen backstage. Meanwhile, Colonel Loring declares the watch to be a fake, and with police in tow, Mrs. Drew and the colonel arrive at the theater to have the professor arrested. To avoid them, the professor dons an "Uncle Tom" costume and in blackface, performs the role until the actor cast as "Uncle Tom" also appears onstage in blackface. The professor is arrested upon exiting the stage, but the police, Mrs. Drew and Colonel Loring agree to remain until the end of the play rather than disrupt it. Moved to tears by Eva's deathbed scene, as played by Dimples, Mrs. Drew calls the play beautiful and tells the police to let the professor go. A year later, after a performance, Allen, now with Betty, announces to an audience which includes the professor, who kisses Mrs. Drew's shoulder, the first presentation in New York of a minstrel show, in which Dimples is starred. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Production Text: Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: William A. Seiter (Dir)
  Booth McCracken (Asst dir)
Producer: Nunnally Johnson (Assoc prod)
Writer: Arthur Sheekman (Scr)
  Nat Perrin (Scr)
  Nunnally Johnson (Orig idea)
Photography: Bert Glennon (Photog)
Art Direction: William Darling (Art dir)
Film Editor: Herbert Levy (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Thomas Little (Set dec)
Costumes: Gwen Wakeling (Cost)
Music: Louis Silvers (Mus dir)
Sound: Eugene Grossman (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Dance: Bill Robinson (Dance dir)
Country: United States

Songs: "Hey, What Did the Blue Jay Say," "He Was a Dandy," "Picture Me Without You" and "Dixie-anna," music and lyrics by Jimmy McHugh and Ted Koehler; "Wings of the Morning," spiritual, music by Jimmy McHugh.
Composer: Ted Koehler
  Jimmy McHugh

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 16/10/1936 dd/mm/yyyy LP6956

PCA NO: 2352
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Noiseless Recording

Genre: Comedy-drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
  Show business
Subjects (Major): Actors and actresses
  New York City--History
  Uncle Tom's Cabin (Play)
  Wards and guardians
Subjects (Minor): Aunts
  Confidence men
  Minstrel shows

Note: The first treatment of this film was entitled "Under the Gaslight." During production, the title of the film was changed from Dimples to The Bowery Princess , but it was changed back before the film's release. The following cast suggestions were listed in material in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library: W. C. Fields as "Professor Eustace Appleby"; Edna May Oliver as "Mrs. Caroline Drew"; Michael Whalen as "Allen Drew"; Claude Gillingwater as "Colonel Loring"; Warren Hymer as "Patrolman"; and Borrah Minevitch and His Gang. A HR news item from Dec 1935 states that Twentieth Century-Fox was negotiating with Paramount to borrow Fields for the film. Joseph Cawthorn is listed as a cast member in a HR production chart; his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The copyright sheet music register lists the song "Oh, Mister Man Up in the Moon," by Ted Koehler and Jimmy McHugh as having been written for this film, but it was not included in the final film. Stepin Fetchit's name is not in the opening or closing credits of the video release of the film, but his name was included in the opening and closing credits of the 1936 release. In a NYT article, Bill Robinson was quoted saying about Shirley Temple, "The kid might not be a perfect tap dancer, but I want 'em to find me another her age who could learn five of my routines in a week." In a modern source, Frank Morgan was quoted saying about Temple that "she is the greatest actress I ever played with." 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   3 Oct 1936.   
Daily Variety   23 Sep 36   p. 3.
Film Daily   26 Sep 36   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Dec 35   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   11 May 36   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jun 36   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Sep 36   p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily   24 Sep 36   p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald   27 Jun 36   p. 52.
Motion Picture Herald   17 Oct 36   p. 47.
New York Times   10 Oct 36   p. 21.
Variety   14 Oct 36   p. 15.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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