Smiles and talent can take a streetwise orphan far in Dimples by writers Nat Perrin and Arthur Sheekman; producers Nunnally Johnson and Darryl F. Zanuck; and director William A. Seiter. Bert Glennon, Herbert Levy, and Jimmy McHugh handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases California’s Movietone City.
The musical lasts 79 minutes. Its distributor was 20th Century-Fox. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were October 9 and 16, 1936.
The movie begins with orphan Sylvia Dolores Appleby (Shirley Temple) leading children street singers (Eddie Coke, Walter Dennis, Alex Hirschfield, Harry McCrillis Leonard Kibrick, George Weidler, Walter Weidler) in south Manhattan in 1850. “Dimples” believes her grandfather to be an acting, bird-calling, and singing teacher. She does not know that Eustace pickpockets Bowery crowds.
Dimples entertains Widow Caroline Drew (Helen Westley). Furs go missing. Greenwich Village police (Wade Boteler, Fred Kelsey) suspect Dimples.
Eustace intervenes. He purports overpowering the thief. He returns the furs. He steals a cuckoo clock.
Dimples accepts responsibility. She gives Caroline the clock. She observes Caroline deploring nephew Allen Drew’s (Robert Kent):
Dumping fiancée Betty Loring (Delma Byron), family friend Colonel Jasper Loring’s (Berton Churchill) daughter.
Pursuing actress Cleo Marsh (Astrid Allwyn);
Quitting her Washington Square Park estate;
Socializing with theater people.
Caroline asks Eustace’s permission to raise Dimples. She offers $5,000. Eustace turns Caroline down. He vows never to sell Dimples off.
Dimples auditions for Allen’s production of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (1811-1896) 1852-published novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He hires Eustace as assistant. Eustace loses Allen’s $95 for advertising and $705 for production costs in buying a worthless watch from Emery T. Hawkins (Julius Tannen) and Richards (John Carradine). Allen’s creditors (Homer Dickenson) threaten Eustace with jail time.
Dimples accepts Caroline’s custody. Eustace comes to collect $5,000. He does not keep the check. He flirts with Caroline enough to sell her the swindlers’ watch for $1,000. The watch supposedly is the gift of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) to Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814).
Cleo dumps Allen. Dimples escorts Betty from the audience to reconcile backstage with Allen. Eustace interprets Uncle Tom (Jack Clifford) when Caroline, Jasper and police (A.S. “Pop” Byron, Bob Murphy) show up with the watch. Caroline lets the matter drop after acknowledging Dimples’ talents in:
Interpreting Little Eva;
Singing “The Gospel Train Spiritual”;
Singing and dancing (Bill Robinson’s [1878-1949] choreographed) “Dixie-anna”, “Hey, What Did the Blue Jay Say”, “He Was a Dandy”, and “Picture Me Without You”.
The movie ends in 1851 with: