Film Review of Bright Eyes: Shirley Temple in 1934 Comedy Drama With James Dunn

by DerdriuMarriner

In the 1934 film version of "Bright Eyes," characters played by James Dunn and Shirley Temple fly The Good Ship Lollipop

An orphan is lucky in making friends with a pilot and a tycoon.
• She is unlucky in mourning both parents’ deaths.
• Will doing right deeds, eating spinach, and thinking right thoughts keep her pretty inside and out in “Bright Eyes”?

"Bright Eyes" was the last of a quartet of films released in 1934 that paired James Dunn (Nov. 2, 1901 – Sept. 1, 1967) with Shirley Temple:
• "Stand Up and Cheer!," released on May 4, 1934;
• "Change of Heart," released on May 18, 1934;
• "Baby Take a Bow," released on June 30, 1934;
• "Bright Eyes," released on Dec. 28, 1934.

Shirley Temple Black recalled this jacket in her autobiography, Child Star.

Shirley Temple wore a red leather flight jacket for the opening and later runaway scenes of Bright Eyes.
Shirley Temple wore a red leather flight jacket for the opening and later runaway scenes of Bright Eyes.


Bright prospects go hand-in-hand with Bright Eyes by writer William Conselman; producer Sol M. Wurtzel; ideator Edwin J. Burke; and ideator/director David Butler. Arthur C. Miller; and Samuel Kaylin and Richard A. Whiting handle cinematography and music. Filming showcases Glendale and Pasadena, California.

The comedy drama lasts 83 minutes. Its distributor was Fox Film. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were December 20 and 28, 1934.


The movie begins with five-year-old Shirley Blake (Shirley Temple) celebrating Christmas in a taxiing plane. She grieves her father’s death in an airplane crash. But she loves:

  • Dolls Loopy and Mary Lou:
  • Godfather/pilot James “Loop” Merritt’s (James Dunn);
  • Loop’s Cairn Terrier Rags (Terry, 1933-1945).

She sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop.”

Shirley anticipates her mother’s (Lois Wilson) arrival. Mary is busy:

  • Being scolded for aviators and mechanics calling and visiting;

  • Finishing Shirley’s cake;

  • Getting Christmas money from wheelchair-bound “sewer king” Ned Smith (Charles Sellon).

Ned keeps Mary employed since he:

  • Dislikes son J. Wellington (Theodore von Eltz), daughter-in-law Anita (Dorothy Christy), and granddaughter Joy (Jane Withers) Smythe.

  • Likes Shirley “Bright Eyes”.

A motorist (Rodney Hildebrand) runs into Mary when she runs to the Glendale Airport.

NYC resident Adele Martin (Judith Allen) disembarks to visit Cousin Anita. She lets ex-fiancée Loop know about Mary’s death. In the airplane, Loop reassures Shirley that her parents and his parents are now in heaven.

The Smythes owe their luxurious lifestyle to Ned. Ned retains the family name’s original spelling. His son and daughter-in-law show their pretentiousness by “gentrifying” their surname.

Loop abhors Joy calling Shirley charity. He faces two challenges:

  • He earns just enough money to support himself;

  • Ned intends to adopt Shirley.

He reassures Shirley that a magic ring connects them in times of need or trouble. He shares his scrapbook pictures of his ex-girlfriends and of Shirley’s father.

Joy and Shirley give their dolls buggy rides. Joy grabs a kitchen knife because:

  • She is the doctor;

  • Shirley is the nurse;

  • Shirley’s doll needs to be “operated” on.

Shirley runs to the airport. She sneaks into the baggage area before Loop flies a package to NYC for $1,000.

Shirley hears a radio news release describing Loop as a suspected kidnapper. She joins Loop in the cockpit. They parachute to a cliff while gas lines break.

The movie ends with:

  • Loop battling Ned for Shirley’s custody;

  • Judge Thompson (George Irving) dismissing Loop’s (Paul McVey) and Ned’s (Selmer Jackson) attorneys;

  • Adele and Loop expecting to marry;

  • Ned opting to live with Adele, Loop and Shirley;

  • Anita slapping Joy when they lose “cash cow” Ned.


Shirley Temple - On The Good Ship Lollipop.avi ~ "It's a sweet trip to a candy shop where bon bons play on the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay"

Uploaded to YouTube on March 30, 2010 by Damien Chemillé ~ URL:



My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Image Credits


Shirley Temple. Bright Eyes
Shirley Temple wore a red leather flight jacket for the opening and later runaway scenes of Bright Eyes.: ClassicFlix @ClassicFlix, via Twitter Feb. 11, 2014, @

Damien Chemillé. "Shirley Temple - On The Good Ship Lollipop.avi." YouTube, March 30, 2010, @

Mike Licht (Mike Licht,, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @


Shirley Temple doll, 1934

Ideal Doll & Novelty Co.
Ideal Doll & Novelty Co.
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Shirley Temple Little Darling Collection (18 DVD Boxed Set) ~ 18 films, including "Bright Eyes"

Shirley Temple films

Shirley Temple Black's autobiography

Child Star: An Autobiography

"Bright Eyes": Shirley Temple Eating a Big Lollipop, 1934 ~ Every child wants to sail on The Good Ship Lollipop

Bright Eyes, Shirley Temple Eating a Big Lollipop, 1934

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 04/04/2024, DerdriuMarriner
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