Film Review of Kathleen: Shirley Temple in 1942 Romantic Comedy Drama

by DerdriuMarriner

Can the dreams of a lonely teenager come true as she matches her child psychologist with her father to form the perfect family?

Imagination can be a source of comfort and of creativity.

It manifests itself most soothingly in daydreams. Will a teenager and her child psychologist find a way to keep nightmares of loneliness and stepmothers at bay in “Kathleen”? "Kathleen" was the only film that Shirley Temple made in 1941 and the only film that Shirley made for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

"Kathleen" was the first film to showcase Shirley as a teenager.

Shirley Temple's home in 1941 at 231 North Rockingham Avenue, Brentwood neighborhood, west side Los Angeles

Boston Public Library, Print Department, The Tichnor Brothers Collection
Boston Public Library, Print Department, The Tichnor Brothers Collection


Daydreams can get a teenager through loneliness and even may come true in Kathleen by writer Mary C. McCall Jr.; producer George Haight; and director Harold S Bucquet. Sidney Wagner, Conrad A. Nervig, and Franz Waxman handle cinematography, editing and music. Filming showcases California’s Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios.

The 84-minute drama romance adapts Catherine Van Riper’s (1907-1948) story. Its distributor was Loew’s Inc. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were December 18, 1941 and January 22, 1942.

The movie begins with 12-year-old Kathleen (Shirley Temple) fabricating a happy family life and a lonely girl on the hill for antique shop owner M. Schoner (Felix Bressart). She imagines her wealthy, widowed, workaholic father John Staunton Davis (Herbert Marshall) begging her forgiveness upon reading her poem “My Heart Cries Out”. John instead makes a rare evening dinner appearance with new girlfriend Lorraine Bennett (Gail Patrick). Lorraine suggests contacting child specialist Dr. Montague Foster (Lloyd Corrigan) about Kathleen’s:

  • Disliking governess Mrs Farrell (Nella Walker);

  • Sabotaging Mrs. Farrell’s inquisitiveness by setting firecrackers.

Montague concludes that Kathleen is lonely. He favors:

  • Firing Mrs. Farrell;

  • Hiring child psychologist Dr. Angela Martha Kent (Laraine Day), who has the summer free before leaving for research in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

He is concerned that Kathleen:

  • Has no friends;

  • Interacts mainly with Jarvis the butler (Guy Bellis) and Margaret the maid (Margaret Bert Davis).

Kathleen appreciates Angela’s intelligent sensitivity. She confides to Schoner that the girl on the hill is feeling much happier. She convinces John to dine at home. She matches Angela and John.

John chats with Angela about imminent marriage. It disappoints Angela that John contemplates marriage with Lorraine, not herself. But per Montague’s advice, Angela encourages Kathleen to try to like Lorraine. Kathleen fantasizes about:

  • Being a musical comedy star singing “Around the Corner” (and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” elsewhere);

  • Bribing Lorraine to leave John;

  • Getting police (Wade Boteler) to arrest Lorraine for accepting $100,000;

  • John marrying Angela.

Moving men (Monte Collins, James Flavin) are at the antique shop. Schoner is relocating to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kathleen reveals that she is the girl on the hill. Schoner suggests meeting Angela. Angela turns Kathleen and Schoner down.

John asks Angela to keep Kathleen company during his and Lorraine’s wedding and honeymoon. Angela chides John for marrying Lorraine and neglecting Kathleen. She gives notice. Kathleen leaves a note about feeling unwanted.

The movie ends with:

  • Lorraine accusing Angela of influencing Kathleen;

  • John breaking up with Lorraine;

  • Schoner calling John about Kathleen sneaking into the moving van;

  • Angela and John retrieving Kathleen and returning as a family to NYC.


Preview Clip / Kathleen / Warner Archive

Uploaded Jan. 29, 2015, by Warner Archive to YouTube ~ URL:



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


Image Credits


Boston Public Library, Print Department, The Tichnor Brothers Collection: Boston Public Library, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @[email protected]/7535849872/

Warner Archive. "Preview Clip / Kathleen / Warner Archive." YouTube, Jan. 29, 2015, @


Kathleen ~ DVD


Shirley Temple Black's autobiography

Child Star: An Autobiography

DVD: Biography: Shirley Temple -- Hollywood's Little Princess

Biography: Shirley Temple - Hollywood's Little Princess

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer still of Shirley Temple, 1941

Black and White 8x10 Photo

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: 03/02/2023, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/20/2014

VioletteRose, Thank you! Shirley Temple left a charming legacy.

VioletteRose on 03/20/2014

Another wonderful review and beautiful pictures :)

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