Happiness and solvency come to those who entertain and network in Just Around the Corner by writers Ethel Hill, J.P. McEvoy and Darrell Ware; producer Darryl F. Zanuck; and director Irving Cummings. Arthur C. Miller, Walter Thompson, and Harold Spina handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases Movietone City west of Beverly Hills, California.
The 70-minute musical adapts Paul Girard Smith’s (September 14, 1894 - April 4, 1968) novel Lucky Penny. Its distributor was 20th Century-Fox. Its USA-release date was November 11, 1938.
The movie begins with Penny Hale (Shirley Temple) disenrolling from the exclusive boarding school where she studies. She believes home still to be atop beautiful, expensive Riverview Hotel. Milton (Benny Bartlett) and Lola (Amanda Duff) now have the penthouse with widowed mother Julia Ramsby (Cora Witherspoon) and banker/Uncle Samuel G. Henshaw (Claude Gillingwater). Penny lives in the basement.
Samuel forecloses architect Jeff Hale’s (Charles Farrell) $10,000,000 East Gate Project. Jeff now is Riverview’s electrician. But Penny riles building manager Waters (Franklin Pangborn) by dancing and singing “This Is a Happy Little Ditty” with:
Chauffeur Gus (Bert Lahr);
Doorman Corporal Jones (Bill Robinson);
Pet groomer Kitty (Joan Davis).
Waters threatens homelessness and joblessness.
Jeff believes happiness and success still possible even though:
But Penny comes to the rescue. She helps Milton survive Mugsy’s urchin-like gang (Leonard Kibrick, Sidney Kibrick). Milton invites Penny to Riverview’s playroom where their peers and Waters behave snobbishly.
Penny believes Samuel to be the “Uncle Sam” whom Jeff says will end the Depression with jump-started business. She impresses Samuel by:
Distancing him from reporters;
Exchanging Milton’s pristine clothes for rough, tough streetwear;
Trimming Milton’s Little Lord Fauntleroy-styled (published 1885 and 1886 by Frances Hodgson Burnett [November 24, 1849 - October 29, 1924]) curls.
But Julia and Samuel interfere with Milton’s and Penny’s getting Jeff and Lola reconciled. Samuel offers Jeff employment in Borneo, without Lola’s and Penny’s company.
Penny arranges to hold a fundraiser 2 days before Jeff’s departure. She expects the money to go to Samuel’s business revivals. Reporters hear about Penny’s benefit show. They make Samuel’s financial distress – which really is true – front-page news.
Samuel’s assistants (J. Anthony Hughes, Orville Caldwell) bring Penny to Samuel’s office. Jeff comes along too. Samuel lets Penny return to fundraising after hearing about “Uncle Sam”. Waters manages to escape from confinement in the laundry shoot and inform police (Ethan Laidlaw) who arrest him.
The movie ends with Jones’ and Penny’s “I Love to Walk in the Rain” routine convincing Samuel to let Jeff: