Bright Eyes (1934 film)

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Bright Eyes
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Butler
Written byDavid Butler
Edwin J. Burke
Screenplay byWilliam Conselman
Henry Johnson
Produced bySol M. Wurtzel
StarringShirley Temple
James Dunn
CinematographyArthur Miller
Music byRichard A. Whiting
Samuel Kaylin
Distributed byFox Film
Release date
  • December 28, 1934 (1934-12-28)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States

Bright Eyes is a 1934 American comedy drama film directed by David Butler. The screenplay by William Conselman is based on a story by David Butler and Edwin J. Burke.


Five-year-old Shirley Blake (Shirley Temple) and her widowed mother, Mary (Lois Wilson), a maid, live in the home of her employers, the rich and mean-spirited Smythe family, Anita (Dorothy Christy), J. Wellington (Theodore von Eltz), their spoiled seven-year-old daughter, Joy (Jane Withers) and cantankerous wheelchair-bound Uncle Ned (Charles Sellon). After Christmas morning, Shirley hitches a ride to the airport to visit her late father's pilot friends. The aviators bring her aboard an airplane and taxi her around the runways while she serenades them with a rendition of On the Good Ship Lollipop.

Mary is killed in a traffic accident. Loop (James Dunn), one of the pilots and Shirley's godfather, takes Shirley up in an airplane. He says that she is in Heaven and that her mother is now there. When the Smythes learn of Mary's death, they plan to send Shirley to an orphanage. However, Uncle Ned, who has grown fond of Shirley or "Bright Eyes" as he calls her, rejects this, insisting that she stays with them. To raise money for attorney fees, Loop reluctantly accepts a lucrative contract to deliver an item by plane, cross-country to New York during a dangerous storm. Unbeknown to him, little Shirley sneaked away from the Smythes' home, found his airplane at the airport, and stowed away inside. When their plane loses control in the storm in the wilderness, they parachute to the ground together and are eventually rescued. The impasse over custody is resolved when Loop, his former fiancée Adele (Judith Allen), Uncle Ned, and Shirley all decide to live together. The Smythes leave the courthouse miserably, except Joy at first; when she rudely comments that at least they don't have to be nice to Uncle Ned anymore, her mother slaps her hard across the face.


  • Shirley Temple as Shirley Blake, a five-year-old girl who is Mary Blake's daughter
  • James Dunn as James "Loop" Merritt, a bachelor pilot and Shirley's godfather
  • Lois Wilson as Mary Blake, Shirley's widowed mother who works as a maid for the Smythe family
  • Judith Allen as Adele Martin, a socialite and Loop's estranged fiancée
  • Charles Sellon as Uncle Ned Smith, the Smythes' cranky patriarch who has a tenderness for Shirley
  • Theodor von Eltz as J. Wellington Smythe, a haughty nouveau-riche
  • Dorothy Christy as Anita Smythe, J. Wellington Smythe's equally arrogant wife
  • Jane Withers as Joy Smythe, J. Wellington & Anita's spoiled and obnoxious seven-year-old daughter
  • Brandon Hurst as Higgins, the Smythes' butler
  • Jane Darwell as Elizabeth Higgins, the Smythes' cook
  • Walter Johnson as Thomas, the Smythes' chauffeur
  • George Irving as Judge Thompson
  • Terry as Rags, Loop's dog


James Dunn and Temple in a publicity photo for Bright Eyes

American Airlines and the Douglas Aircraft Company, recognizing the potential of the film in advertising air travel, cooperated in the production and distribution. They provided a DC-2, designated "A-74", aircraft for the exterior shots while a true to scale mock up was provided for the interior scenes. A 12-passenger Curtiss T-32 Condor II transport biplane, designated "Condor 151", in early American Airlines (and Air Mail) livery also features in prominent scenes. In the famous Good Ship Lollipop scene, members of the University of Southern California football team served as extras. In the second flying scene where Temple's character sneaks aboard the plane and they were forced to bail out of it, both Temple and Dunn were strapped into a harness hoisted up into the studio rafters. They were supposed to drift down with the aid of a wind machine. In the first take, someone inadvertently opened an airproof door just as they landed, creating a vacuum that sucked out the parachute and dragged them both across the studio floor. Marilyn Granas served as a stand-in for Temple as she had for her previous movies. She would later be replaced by Mary Lou Isleib who would remain as Temple's stand-in for the rest of her tenure at 20th Century Fox.[2]


Press photo of Dunn and Judith Allen

Awards and honors[edit]

Temple received a miniature Oscar on February 27, 1935 for her contributions to film entertainment in 1934, chiefly for Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes. She was the first child actor to receive an Academy Award.[3][4]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Windeler 1992, p. 26
  2. ^ Black, Shirley Temple (October 1, 1988). Child Star: An Autobiography. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 66-71. ISBN 978-0-0700-5532-2.
  3. ^ Edwards 1988, p. 80
  4. ^ Windeler 1992, p. 27
  5. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
Works cited

External links[edit]