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Last night I watched about 45 minutes of this movie. I used to love Shirley Temple movies when I was a kid and remember seeing this movie. But now as an 50 year adult I was shocked at the racial stereotypes of the African Americans in this movie. It really made me realize that several generations of Americans got their early impressions of African Americans from this movie. I never noticed these stereotypes before as an innocent. The only character that represents even some semblance of a strong black man is Uncle Peter and even then it is questionable. This somewhat explains how people come to believe that all Blacks are lazy, stupid and fearful. The one scene where the slave is hiding in the closet from the Confederates is laughful and sad at the same time.

 

I am really enjoying this month's Tuesday and Thursday night series, I would love to see a Black cinema day once a month. There are so many of classic Black produced race movies out there and they need to be shown.

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Yeah, I forgot about that scene it was so telling when she pushed the soldier over the chair and he was going to hurt her but upon finding out she was white he backed off. Also I thought the Union soliders were supposed to be for helping to free the slaves, yet the soldiers treated them like dirt. Not a good representation for the Union soldiers. Shirley's father who was a slave owner and Confederate was much for sympathetic towards the slaves. He even entrusted his daughter to Uncle Billy.

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I agree with the previous posters: This movie is simultaneously entertaining and sad, though I think it's important that we see it within its time.

 

It may also be necessary to love Shirley Temple, which, I realize, is a trial for some viewers. I confess that I think she's an incredible performer & loved seeing her honored at the SAG awards recently. As she went up to the podium, the camera swept across the room, showing the usual Hollywood crop of bland actors, and all I could think was: "Holy cats. Shirley's forgotten more about performing and cinematic history than these clowns will ever know". The inclusion of a Shirley Temple movie other than her later work under the aegis of Selznick on TCM is also a welcome event. Could "Wee Willie Winkie" or "Heidi" find their way to Turner someday soon? Needless to add, Shirley's rendition of "Believe Me, All Those Endearing Young Charms" is a knockout and if anyone can bind up the wounds of a nation recently embroiled in a civil war, the littlest rebel might as well give it a try!

I am, of course being facetious.

 

More importantly, the painful and ironic portrayals of blacks and whites in this film offer a learning opportunity for viewers. Thanks to the excellent commentary before each of these films, placing their often grotesque portrayals of black human beings in a historical context, I'm hoping that alot of viewers who've never seen these films will understand that for their time, they weren't all necessarily intentionally racist, at least not on a conscious level. After viewing this and other films, especially the more scurrilous, but well-crafted movies such as Birth of a Nation and Uncle Tom's Cabin, I find myself haunted by the knowledge that the black actors here may have reached their career peak on film in this movie and wondering what must have been their own conflicted feelings about their roles.

 

I remember seeing this film as a child and my mother took the trouble to explain to me that when The Littlest Rebel was initially shown in the thirties, the fact that Shirley Temple held Bill Robinson's hand as they danced was significant. It's my understanding that in many instances the film was not shown in Southern theatres because of the obvious rapport and mutual respect that shone from the onscreen pair.

 

The fact that the two obviously delighted in playing together onscreen, may have sent a positive, if imperfect message to audiences. It's puzzling, as has been pointed out, that the maternal and paternal black characters in these films almost always seem to be completely devoted to white children--where were their families?? Well, sold down the river, sometimes literally. These were, as has been reiterated during the preludes to these films, 'baby steps' for an industry that was rooted in institutional racism and was most often timid in its portrayal of the social upheavals beneath the surface of many of the stories that they told. It's good to see how far we've come, but still painful to watch, don't you think?

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What an interesting and articulate posting from Moirafinnie. It's no wonder she was missed!

 

I'd like to echo kimbutgar's wish to see a black cinema day once a month. There are so many black-produced movies that I've heard about, yet have never had the opportunity to see. I would like to see african-american work reflected on TMC year 'round...

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