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Curly Top (film) facts for kids

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Curly Top
The film poster depicts Temple and Boles in costume facing each other in profile against a dark background.
Poster by Joseph A. Maturo
Directed by Irving Cummings
Produced by Winfield R. Sheehan
Written by Patterson McNutt
Arthur J. Beckhard
Starring Shirley Temple
John Boles
Rochelle Hudson
Music by Ray Henderson
Oscar Bradley
R.H. Bassett
Hugo Friedhofer
Arthur Lange
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Editing by Jack Murray
Studio Fox Film Corporation
Distributed by Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s) July 26, 1935 (1935-07-26)
Running time 74 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Money made $1.1 million

Curly Top is a 1935 American musical drama film directed by Irving Cummings. The screenplay by Patterson McNutt and Arthur J. Beckhard focuses on the adoption of a young orphan (Shirley Temple) by a wealthy bachelor (John Boles) and his romantic attraction to her older sister (Rochelle Hudson).

Together with The Littlest Rebel, another Temple vehicle, the film was listed as one of the top box office draws of 1935 by Variety. The film's musical numbers include "Animal Crackers in My Soup" and "When I Grow Up".

This film was the first of four films that Shirley Temple and Arthur Treacher appeared in together; others were Stowaway (1936), Heidi (1937), and The Little Princess (1939).


Young Elizabeth Blair (Shirley Temple) lives at the Lakeside Orphanage, a dreary, regimented place supervised by two decent but dour women. Her older sister Mary (Rochelle Hudson) works in the kitchen, laundry, and dormitory. Elizabeth is a sweet child but her high spirits and creative imagination often lead her into trouble with the superintendent; such as one night when she snuck in her pet horse Spunky into the children's bedroom.

When the trustees descend on the orphanage for a tour of inspection, Elizabeth is caught playfully mimicking the head trustee and is threatened with being sent to a public institution. Young, rich, handsome trustee Edward Morgan (John Boles) intervenes. He takes an immediate liking to Elizabeth and, in a private interview with the child, learns that most of her life has been spent obsequiously expressing her gratitude for every mouthful that has fallen her way. He adopts her but, not wanting to curb Elizabeth's spirit by making her feel slavishly obligated to him for every kindness, he tells her a fictitious "Hiram Jones" is her benefactor and he is simply acting on Jones's behalf as his lawyer. He nicknames her "Curly Top." Meanwhile, he has met and fallen in love with Elizabeth's sister Mary but will not admit it.

Elizabeth and Mary leave the orphanage and take up residence in Morgan's luxurious Southampton beach house. His kindly aunt, Genevieve Graham (Esther Dale), and his very proper butler Reynolds (Arthur Treacher) are charmed by the two. Elizabeth has everything a child could want including a pony cart and silk pajamas.

Mary secretly loves Morgan but, believing he has no romantic interest in her, she accepts an offer of marriage from young Navy pilot Jimmie Rogers (Maurice Murphy). Morgan is taken aback but offers his congratulations. Hours later, Mary ends the engagement when she realizes she doesn't truly love Jimmie. Morgan then declares his love, reveals he is the fictitious "Hiram Jones", and plans marriage and a long honeymoon in Europe with Mary.


  • Shirley Temple as Elizabeth Blair, a 7-year-old girl
  • John Boles as Edward Morgan
  • Rochelle Hudson as Mary Blair, Elizabeth's sister
  • Esther Dale as Genevieve Graham, Morgan's aunt
  • Arthur Treacher as Reynolds, a 40-year-old man who is Morgan's English butler
  • Jane Darwell as Mrs. Henrietta Denham, a heavy-set, elderly matron at the Lakeside Orphanage. She is much kinder than Mrs. Higgins and is actually well liked by the children at the orphanage.
  • Rafaela Ottiano as Mrs. Higgins, the severe, strict, thin-lipped superintendent of the Lakeside Orphanage
  • Etienne Girardot as James Wyckoff, a stern, elderly, penny-pinching trustee of the Lakeside Orphanage and the manufacturer of Wyckoff's Cough Mixture
  • Maurice Murphy as Jimmie Rogers



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

  • 2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
    • "Animal Crackers in My Soup" – Nominated
Women's History Month on Kiddle
Women Scientists of Antiquity
Mary the Jewess
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