Category Archives: 1937 Movie reviews

Heidi-1937

Heidi-1937

Director-Allan Dwan

Starring-Shirley Temple, Jean Hersholt

Scott’s Review #826

Reviewed November 2, 2018

Grade: A-

During the 1930’s and the 1940’s Shirley Temple was the most prominent and profitable child star around starring in dozens of films deemed “wholesome” and “cute”. Heidi (1937) is one of her most popular and best regarded, a treasure of earnest and sentimental riches. The film is forever known in pop culture as the ruination of the 1968 Super Bowl when the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets game was interrupted at a crucial moment due to the scheduled airing of the film.

An interesting side note is that amazingly Temple relinquished her Hollywood title with dignity and without scars. She left the scene entirely and became a successful world diplomat. During a time in American cinema where child stars were treated like property and sometimes like cattle, her relative healthy exit was a remarkable feat.

The story of Heidi is based on the 1880 Swiss story of the same name. Temple, in the title role, plays an orphan living in the cold mountains with her grizzled grandfather, Adolf (Jean Hersholt). At first bitter for being saddled with raising a child, Adolf finally accepts the girl and he and Heidi become fast friends, exhibiting a warm and tender bond.

Heidi’s self- absorbed aunt ruins the dynamic and instead whisks the child away to live with a wealthy family. The little girl will serve as a companion for their crippled daughter, Klara, as Heidi and Adolf are determined to find each other. Adding drama to the story is Klara’s evil housekeeper and her jealousy of Heidi, leading to attempts to sell Heidi off to gypsies for profit.

By 1937 Temple was beginning to be deemed “too old” for cute roles, but Heidi is one of her best remembered films and the actress is in top form. As one might expect from any Shirley Temple film musical numbers are included- a dream sequence in Holland culminates with Temple belting out the charming “In My Little Wooden Shoes”.

As there are mountains of Shirley Temple fans worldwide there are also her detractors. Some feel her films are completely dated and that the young star was not as talented as some thought she was. Admittedly, watching her films approaching the one-hundred-year mark can be a peculiarity and, on the surface seem a bit hammy and overly sentimental, but my personal experience elicits a return to childhood days. Despite being decades before my existence, Shirley Temple films were commonplace in my household as a child.

Heidi is not a groundbreaking cinematic experience or really all that deep at all. What the film does provide though is comfort. The audience assuredly must know a film like Heidi has a happy ending as the child provides warmth and spirit to every person she meets, making their lives better. Even during peril, the girl has an “awe shucks” manner of being and makes the best of any lousy situation she faces.

The strongest appeal of Heidi comes in the friendship she makes with Klara the cripple. Klara is kind and naive, unaware of her servant’s jealousy and rage. Helpless, she comes to depend on Heidi and we root for Heidi to rescue Klara and bring her to a better life. The film has sappy written all over it, but somehow works all the same.

Films such as Heidi (1937), the best of all the Temple films in my opinion, can be watched and enjoyed as an ode to days gone by or a tribute to someone’s grandmother’s favorite film. Despite perhaps being irrelevant and too sappy in today’s modern world, they undoubtedly provide comfort and support to some and that cannot be such a bad thing. Heidi can easily be enjoyed for the popularity that the film achieved and the warm message the film exudes.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-1937

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-1937

Director-David Hand

Starring-Various Voices

Scott’s Review #625

Reviewed March 18, 2017

Grade: A-

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the debut feature length production by storied producer, Walt Disney, and has the grand honor of being the first animated feature ever to be made. Until the time of its release, animated stories were not features at all, but rather, shorts that were shown as gag-filled entertainment not to be taken very seriously. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made animated films something to be appreciated and respected- the film, released in 1937, was re-released in theaters many times until the 1990’s and is a blueprint for what animated features would become. The film is based on the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale and is a cherished treasure.

Beautiful inside and out, Snow White is a lonely princess who lives with her devious wicked stepmother, the Queen. Making the most out of her troubled life, Snow White hums and sings with her bird friends who gather to keep her company as she is forced by her stepmother to work as a scullery maid . The Queen is a vain woman, jealous of Snow White’s natural beauty, constantly consulting her mirror to ask “who is the fairest one of all?”. One day the Queen decides to put an end to Snow White and orders a henchman to kill her in the forest and return her bloody heart to her in a box. When the henchman is unable to do the deed, he pleads with Snow White to flee. She winds up in a little cottage housing seven dwarf men whom she befriends as the Queen is determined to take drastic measures to find her.

Circa 1937, and for years to come, animated features were not created as they are today. Rather, they were simplistic- and wonderful- in the use of storyboards and drawings in their creation. This daunting task, and the creativity involved, makes them just lovely to look at. Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the debut animated feature, the drawings are fantastic to view- like pictures- and to appreciate the craftsmanship involved. The characters are richly created, with bright, vivid colors that distinguish them from one another- the bright red lips of Snow White and the blue and gold colors of her dress contrast with the regal purples used on the Queen, to say nothing of the deep red color of the poison apple. The color makes the apple appear delicious, but also dangerously blood red. These nuances make the characters deep with texture.

The friendships Snow White makes with the dwarfs and the animal life in the forest are whimsical and filled with love and the animal element later would become a staple of Disney’s works- Dumbo and Bambi. The animals are naturally fond of Snow White because she is joyous and kind- they in turn warn her of impending danger as the Queen turns herself into an old woman and lumbers towards Snow White, snug in the cottage.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs features an old style romance- the handsome Prince takes a shine to Snow White, noticing her natural beauty as she sings and later determined to save her- which of course he does when he magically kisses her in the films finale. The songs featured only enhance the love story- “Some Day My Prince Will Come” is a lovely ode to romance and is tenderly sung by Snow White as she longs for the Prince’s touch, frustrated with her life.

The creation of the seven dwarfs is done in magical fashion and seven little men living together seems quite natural in those innocent times. Each distinctive from each other- Dopey being my personal favorite in his innocence and playfulness- Happy, Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, and Bashful are all written with great zest as we fall in love with each of them from the first moment we meet them as they belt out “Heigh-Ho” in unison.

Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs deserves merit for being Disney’s first, overlooked can be the omission of any family members of Snow White’s besides the evil Queen. Where is Snow White’s father and mother? Any siblings? Certainly they are presumed dead, but they are never mentioned. Also, why does the Queen have a Magic Mirror and why does she have special powers that nobody else has?

At one hour and twenty three minutes, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a quick film, but does not feel underdeveloped. The story and the characters are rich with appeal and intrigue making the film a classic that should be shared with all youngsters. It is a classic tale of good versus evil, a great love story, and sets the tone for other Disney masterpieces to follow.