The Little Princess

The Little Princess


A little girl is left by her father in an exclusive seminary for girls, when her father fights in the Second Boer War. Later, when he is presumed dead she is forced to become a servant.

Dove Review

The Little Princess will steal your heart! Played by the adorable and very-cute Shirley Temple, her character of Sara is a kind girl who will tug at your heart when she has to say good-bye to her father, Captain Crewe (Ian Hunter). Captain Crewe is heading off to Africa to fight in an English war in 1899. Sara has already lost her mother and she and her father are tight. In fact, when they say good-bye Sara begins to cry and then looking into her father’s eyes, says, “Why, Daddy, you’re crying too!” Just before this she had mentioned the enemy and said, “You’ll stop them, right, Daddy?” “I’ll try,” was his honest response. There are several tender moments in this film, something that the viewer doesn’t see often these days.

Sara goes to Miss Minchin’s Seminary, a school especially for girls. Her father had told Sara she would have new friends, books to read, and ponies to ride. Miss Minchin (Mary Nash), however, is cranky and a stickler to the rules, with nothing cheery in her personality at all. In fact, when Captain Crewe sees what will become Sara’s room, he asks Miss Minchin if she could brighten it up a bit. Interestingly, Miss Minchin had stated there were no rooms available, until she learned Captain Crewe had financial holdings and was a principal stockholder. Then she becomes very accommodating.

Miss Minchin has the girls welcome Sara and she is happy to cater to Sara as long as she knows her father is footing her bills. However, things will soon change. Later, during an intense battle in southern Africa, it is reported that Captain Crewe is dead. Sara had just received a letter from him, stating that on her birthday at 2 p.m. he would be thinking of her and for her to think of him. It is on her birthday she receives the news about her father. However, she refuses to believe it, saying she “feels” he is still alive.

Needless to say, things soon change after the news arrives, and Miss Minchin banishes Sara to a cold and dreary attic to use as her new bedroom. Sara is, however, not without friends. A young woman at the school, Rose, and her fiancé, Geoffrey, had been kind to Sara, as is a servant girl Sara’s age, named Becky.

One of the girls is unkind to Sarah, telling her to clean up the dust near the hearth, and telling her to get her robe for her. The girl enjoys acting superior. But Sara finds another friend in Ram Dass (Cesar Romero), an Indian servant, who has a kind heart toward her and even brings some cheer to her attic bedroom by means of a fire, better clothes, and he manages to make her room a bit more cheery. One of the themes of the movie seems to be that there is always someone in your life to be grateful for. Becky, for example, helps Sara by cleaning her shoes for her.

Sara endures moments of sadness and a few tears, missing her father, but she never loses hope that she will see him again. Hope is another nice theme portrayed in the film.

The film features some happy song and dance numbers, showing off Shirley Temple’s talents as Sara, and a host of ladies wearing white gowns, dancing, is an energetic and joyful scene. The solid acting showcases a wholesome portrayal of a more innocent time. The wide range of characters, from the deceitful ones to the helpful ones, adds nuances to the story and to the movie.

When the war is ended, the wounded soldiers return home to England’s hospitals, and Sara begins to make the rounds, hoping to find her father still alive. Did he survive? Will she find him?

The film has earned our Dove seal for All Ages, with a nice story which doesn’t cross any of our content lines for wholesome family viewing.

The Dove Take:

Your entire family will enjoy this movie which manages to pack lots of heart and entertainment into one film!

Content Description

Faith: A young girl prays a few times in the movie.
Integrity: There are good characters in the film who help one another.
Sex: A young couple kiss a few times and are soon married.
Language: One character says he has made an a** of himself, like a donkey.
Violence: The mention of war; a girl dumps the dust from a hearth on a snippy girl’s head; a son half playfully raps his mother on the back with an object when she is being unkind.
Drugs: Pipe smoking and a wounded soldier smokes a cigarette in bed while recuperating.
Nudity: None
Other: There are a few characters who are mean spirited; a couple of characters lie but there are consequences; tension between characters.


Company: Cinedigm
Writer: Ethel Hill (screen play), Walter Ferris (screen play), Frances Hodgson Burnett
Director: Walter Lang, William A. Seiter (uncredited)
Producer: Gene Markey
Genre: Family
Runtime: 93 min.
Reviewer: Ed C.