The Little Princess

1939 film by Walter Lang, William A. Seiter

The Little Princess is a 1939 movie. It was directed by Walter Lang. It stars Shirley Temple. It is loosely based on the book A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was the first Shirley Temple movie to be filmed completely in Technicolor.[2] It was also her last major success as a child star.[3]

The Little Princess
Directed byWalter Lang
Screenplay byEthel Hill
Walter Ferris
Based onA Little Princess
(1905 novel)
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck
Gene Markey
StarringShirley Temple
Richard Greene
Anita Louise
Ian Hunter
Arthur Treacher
CinematographyArthur C. Miller
William Skall
Edited byLouis Loeffler
Music byCharles Maxwell
Cyril J. Mockridge
Herbert W. Spencer
Samuel Pokrass
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • March 10, 1939 (1939-03-10)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budgetover $1 million[1]

Main cast


Captain Crewe is called to fight in the Second Boer War. He leaves his daughter Sara at Miss Minchin's School for Girls. One day, his lawyer arrives in the school with news that Captain Crewe has died and his real estate has been confiscated. Sara is now a poor orphan. She becomes a servant in the school. Sara tires of her servant duties. She sneaks off to Veterans Hospital, convinced her father is not dead. She finds him wounded. They reunite joyfully.



According to Variety, "Transposition of the Frances Hodgson Burnett several-generation favorite, Sara Crewe, is accomplished most successfully. The fairy-tale story is still saccharine to the nth degree, but once the basic premise is established, it rolls along acceptably. And, while the story has been changed for screen purposes, the general line is close enough."[2]

Benjamin R. Crisler reviewed the film when it opened in New York City at the Roxy Theatre. He wrote, "With any other child on earth, it is amazing to reflect, The Little Princess would stand out as one of the most glaring exhibits of pure hokum in screen history; with Mistress Temple, it may very well be, as Mr. Zanuck unflinchingly proclaims, the greatest picture with which Mr. Zanuck has ever been associated."[4]

Janet Maslin, writing for The New York Times 44 years later, called it "antiquated enough to seem charming" and concludes "[t]he movie's music, its corny but likable histrionics and its rousing patriotism (it was made in 1939) culminate in a happy ending sure to make even grown-up viewers cry."[5]


  1. Up Budgets In Quality Film Drive, The Washington Post (1923-1954) [Washington, D.C] 03 Jan 1939: 14
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Little Princess". Variety. 1939. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  3. Landazuri, Margarita. "The Little Princess". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  4. Crisler, Benjamin R. (March 11, 1939). "James Cagney Rides the Plains in Oklahoma Kid at the Strand — Shirley Temple Film at the Roxy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-30.
  5. Maslin, Janet (November 13, 1983). "The Little Princess". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-30.

Other websites