The Blue Bird (1940 film)

Infobox Film
name = The Blue Bird


director = Walter Lang
starring = Shirley Temple
Spring Byington
Nigel Bruce
writer = Maurice Maeterlinck (play)
released = January 19, 1940
runtime = 88 min.
language = English
imdb_id = 0032264

"The Blue Bird" is a 1940 film starring Shirley Temple, based on a classic play by Belgian dramatist Maurice Maeterlinck. Intended as Twentieth Century-Fox's answer to "The Wizard of Oz", which had been released the previous year, it was filmed in Technicolor and directed by Walter Lang. The film failed at the box office, but has found a cult following among Temple fans since its television airings of the 1960s and 70s and its reissue on video.

Synopsis

Mytyl (Shirley Temple), the bratty daughter of a woodcutter, finds a unique bird in the Royal Forest and selfishly refuses to give it to her sick friend. That night she is visited in a dream by a fairy named Berylune who sends her and her brother Tytyl to search for the Blue Bird of Happiness. To accompany them, the fairy magically transforms their dog Tylo, cat Tylette (played by Gale Sondergaard), and lantern ("Light") (played by Helen Ericson) into human form. The children have a number of adventures including a visit with their (deceased) grandparents in the Land of the Past, a stay in The Land of Luxury, an attack by angry trees and lightning which results in a forest fire, a meeting with Father Time, and, in the Land of Tomorrow, populated by unborn children, a meeting with Abraham Lincoln as a young boy (he prophesies "they will destroy me"), and a meeting with their future sister. The dream journey makes the previously unhappy and selfish Mytyl awake as a kinder and gentler girl who has learned to appreciate all the comforts and joys of her home and family. Much like MGM's "The Wizard of Oz", the story starts in sepia and changes to Technicolor for the magical dream sequence.

Characters

*Shirley Temple.... Mytyl
*Spring Byington.... Mummy Tyl
*Nigel Bruce.... Mr. Luxury
*Gale Sondergaard.... Tylette (the cat)
*Eddie Collins.... Tylo (the dog)
*Sybil Jason....Angela Berlingot
*Helen Ericson.... Light
*Johnny Russell.... Tytyl
*Laura Hope Crews.... Mrs.Luxury
*Russell Hicks.... Daddy Tyl
*Cecilia Loftus.... Granny Tyl
*Al Shean.... Grandpa Tyl
*Gene Reynolds.... Studious Boy
*Stanley Andrews.... Wilhelm

Production Notes

* Twentieth Century-Fox reportedly made the film intending to give Temple her own fantasy vehicle after she lost the role of Dorothy to Judy Garland. Shirley had been considered for the role of Dorothy Gale in MGM's "The Wizard of Oz" a year earlier, but her modest singing talent and contractual obligations to Fox Studios prevented her from getting the part.

* As in "The Wizard of Oz", only the "dream" is in full Technicolor. The "real" sequence is in sepia, like the Kansas scenes in "Oz".

* Originally cast as the Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz", Gale Sondergaard was replaced by Margaret Hamilton when MGM decided to change the Wicked Witch from a glamorous character to an ugly one, and Sondergaard refused to wear the necessary disfiguring makeup. Sondergaard plays an important supporting role in "The Blue Bird".

* In "The Blue Bird", Shirley Temple sings just one song titled "Lady O" in a scene at her grandparents' cottage.

* "The Blue Bird" was Shirley Temple's first box-office flop in her 6 years as a child star. Audiences disliked the idea of Shirley as a nasty character needing to learn a lesson. While many of Temple's films show her character misbehaving in various ways, this is the only to show her being truly punished. Early in the film, her brattiness earns her a spanking and a reprimand from her mother.

* This was to be Shirley Temple's last child role. Her next and last role for 20th Century Fox at age 13 was as a pre-teen vaudevillian in "Young People" (with film clips from Temple's earlier films used for flashback scenes).

* Supporting actors in "The Blue Bird" include Edwin Maxwell as Old Man Oak, Sterling Holloway as Wild Plum and former "Our Gang" actor Scotty Beckett as one of the Unborn Boys

* Sybil Jason (Warner Bros' first child star) said in her autobiography "My Fifteen Minutes" that her role as (sympathetic) sick girl Angela was significantly edited down after protest from Shirley Temple's mother.

* The original Maeterlinck play of "The Blue Bird" was published in 1908 and first filmed in 1910.

External links

*imdb title|id=0032264|title=The Blue Bird


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