Wee Willie Winkie (film)

Wee Willie Winkie
File:Wee Willie Winkie (film).jpg
Directed by John Ford
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Gene Markey
Written by Screenplay:
Julien Josephson
Ernest Pascal
Rudyard Kipling
Starring Shirley Temple
Victor McLaglen
C. Aubrey Smith
Cesar Romero
June Lang
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Arthur C. Miller
Editing by Walter Thompson
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) July 30, 1937 (1937-07-30)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget over $1 million[1]

Wee Willie Winkie is a 1937 American adventure film directed by John Ford Filmed in sepia. The screenplay by Julien Josephson and Ernest Pascal was based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. The film stars Shirley Temple, Victor McLaglen, and Cesar Romero in a story about the British presence in nineteenth century India. The production was filmed largely at the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, Calif., where a number of elaborate sets were built for the movie.

William S. Darling and David S. Hall were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.[2]


During the British Raj, Sergeant Donald McDuff escorts Joyce Williams, an impoverished widow, and her young daughter, Priscilla, to a remote military outpost on the northern frontier of India, to live with her stern father-in-law, Colonel Williams. Along the way, they witness the capture of notorious rebel chief Khoda Khan.

Soon, Priscilla, nicknamed 'Wee Willie Winkie' by McDuff, wins the hearts of all the soldiers, especially her grandfather and McDuff; even Khoda Khan is touched by her visits to cheer him up in his captivity. Meanwhile, her mother is courted by Lieutenant Brandes.

Khoda Khan is rescued by his men in a daring night raid and a fight breaks out. McDuff is fatally wounded while out on patrol. He passes away in the hospital, while Winkie sings "Auld Lang Syne" to him.

Winkie decides to persuade Khoda Khan to stop fighting when Mohammed-din, a soldier who is actually Khan's spy, smuggles her out of the base and takes her to the rebel mountain fortress. Khoda Khan is greatly pleased; he thinks that the colonel will bring his entire regiment in a hopeless attempt to rescue her.

Colonel Williams halts his force out of range and walks alone to the entrance. A few of Khan's men start shooting at Williams, and Winkie rushes to her grandfather's side. Impressed by the colonel's courage and overcome with empathy for the child, Khoda Khan orders his men to stop firing. He agrees to negotiate and the war ends.


Until The Little Princess (1939) this was Shirley Temple's most expensive film.[1]

Lawsuit against Graham Greene

In 1938, 20th Century Fox was awarded 3500 pounds in a lawsuit it brought against British novelist Graham Greene, who in his review of Wee Willie Winkie for the magazine Night and Day wrote:

The owners of a child star are like leaseholders—their property diminishes in value every year. Time's chariot is at their back; before them acres of anonymity. Miss Shirley Temple's case, though, has a peculiar interest: infancy is her disguise, her appeal is more secret and more adult. Already two years ago she was a fancy little piece (real childhood, I think, went out after The Littlest Rebel). In Captain January she wore trousers with the mature suggestiveness of a Dietrich: her neat and well-developed rump twisted in the tap-dance: her eyes had a sidelong searching coquetry. Now in Wee Willie Winkie, wearing short kilts, she is completely totsy. Watch her swaggering stride across the Indian barrack-square: hear the gasp of excited expectation from her antique audience when the sergeant's palm is raised: watch the way she measures a man with agile studio eyes, with dimpled depravity. Adult emotions of love and grief glissade across the mask of childhood, a childhood that is only skin-deep. It is clever, but it cannot last. Her admirers—middle-aged men and clergymen—respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.[3]


Home media

In 2009, the film was available on videocassette and DVD in both the original black and white and in computer-colorized versions. Some editions had theatrical trailers and special features.

See also


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • TCM Movie Database
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