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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Baby Take a Bow
Baby Take a Bow
Fox // PG // November 22, 2005
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted December 8, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

Shirley Temple's big break came in the movie Stand Up and Cheer where her musical number "Baby Take a Bow" stole the show. After playing in a couple of Paramount films (both available in the Little Darling Pack) she was signed to Fox, a company on the verge of bankruptcy.  Her adorable looks, perky personality and ability to dance and sing were a bankable commodity but for Fox's first feature with their new star they decided to capitalize on her earlier success and named the film Baby Take a Bow.  Fox has now released this movie that helped turn Temple into a star and saved their studio.  Unfortunately they didn't restore the image, statements on the DVD case to the contrary.

Eddie Ellison (James Dunn) is an ex-con who's gone straight after paying his debt to society.  He's married his girl, Kay (Claire Trevor) and they even have a daughter Shirley (Shirley Temple.)  Eddie has a job as a chauffeur for a rich couple, and things are looking up until a string of pearls is stolen from his employers.  An ex-cop and general weasel named Welch (Alan Dinehart) is sure that Eddie is the culprit and wants to recover the jewelry for the insurance reward.  First Welch gets Eddie fired, and then he spends his time searching the Ellison's apartment.

When the real thief is running from the police, he hands the pearls off to little Shirley who is playing outside.  She thinks they are playing a game of hide-and-seek and deposits the pearls in her father's jacket, just as Welch starts his search.

You could tell that Fox was a little hesitant to risk an entire production on such a young star.  While Shirley does get top billing, she's really more of a supporting character in the film, with James Dunn taking the lead.

This was also a little different from later Temple films in content.  There wasn't much singing, only one musical number that didn't really fit in with the rest of the film, and the plot was forgettable.  It was a generic 1930's film, and had the feel of a B picture for the most part.

Fox really wasn't sure what to do with Temple in this film.  Since they didn't feel comfortable giving her the lead role and building the story around her, there are several scenes of Shirley just being cute for the camera.  Shirley and her mother are doing morning exercises, and taking dance lessons weren't essential to the plot and felt like padding, though the little moppet sure is cute.

Even with this padding and lack of a very good plot, this film is pretty fun.  The scenes in which Shirley is featured are very good.  The part where she unties the criminal that her father has captured with a large knife is really funny and her hide-and-seek game with the pearls is very amusing too.  This is a good family friendly movie.

The DVD:


This DVD contains both the original black and white version of the film and a color version on a single sided disc.  I find it hard to believe that studios are still spending the money to colorize movies, wasn't it decided that this was a rotten idea nearly two decades ago?  In any case you can chose to have artificial colors overlaid on top of the film, if you so desire.

This is the fourth disc in Fox's Shirley Temple series and is numbered on the spine.

Audio:

This DVD has the original mono English soundtrack as well as a stereo mix.  Both of these tracks a little less than mediocre even when considering that this is a film from the 30's.  There isn't a lot of range, and the songs could have used a bit more on both ends.  There was a fairly large amount of hiss throughout the movie too.  The dialog was generally easy to discern, but there's not much more than that to recommend it.

Video:

This DVD includes the original black and white movie, as well as a colorized version.  I screened the B&W version, and spot checked the colorized film.  I really wish they had spent the money it cost to colorize this film on restoration instead.
 
The B&W full frame image is pretty pathetic.  The image is very soft and the lines aren't as tight as they could be.  Some parts were even blurry, especially at the edges of the screen.  The level of detail is alright, though fine details do get lost in black areas, and the highlights are usually washed out.  There is also a fair amount of grain which is distracting.  The print was above average for a film of this age though, with only a few spots and scratches.  The

The color version looks really horrid.  The colors are artificially bright, and skin tones don't look natural.  Shirley Temple's skin is a bright peach color and looks really silly.  The leaves on the trees and plants in the fields are all the exact same shade of green.  Avoid this version.

Extras:

There sole extra are some theatrical trailers for other Temple films.

Final Thoughts:

This Shirley Temple movie is a lot of fun, though the plot is fairly run of the mill for the 30's and she doesn't really star in it, more of a supporting actor.  It's too bad that Fox didn't bother restoring this film, though they claim that they did on the cover.  I think the money was spent on creating a color version of the film instead.  The video quality is pretty rough and the audio isn't that great either.  This film would be a good rental for Temple fans, but casual fans should probably pass on it.
 

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