Film Review of Little Miss Broadway: Shirley Temple Shines in 1938 Musical With George Murphy

by DerdriuMarriner

George Murphy and Shirley Temple tap dance over floors and tables in the 1938 film version of "Little Miss Broadway."

An orphan finds that leaving the orphanage continues and does not end life’s struggles.

The brave girl keeps smiling as she charms problem personalities and works hard. Will she end up better off than before or back where she started in “Little Miss Broadway”?

Shirley Temple sparkles as she keeps pace with one of Hollywood's leading song-and-dance stars, George Murphy.

On June 24, 1938, one month prior to release of “Little Miss Broadway” Shirley Temple visited President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the White House and shared that she had lost a tooth on the previous evening.

photo by Harris & Ewing; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Harris & Ewing Collection
photo by Harris & Ewing; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Harris & Ewing Collection


An orphan finds happiness helping herself and others in Little Miss Broadway by writers Harry Tugend and Jack Yellen; producers David Hempstead and Darryl F Zanuck; and director Irving Cummings. Arthur C. Miller; Walter Thompson; and Harold Spina handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases California’s Movietone City.

The musical lasts 70 minutes. Its distributor was 20th Century-Fox. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were July 22 and 29, 1938.

The movie begins with Madrey Orphanage’s matron (Jane Darwell) announcing Betsy Brown’s (Shirley Temple) adoption. Betsy’s parents’ friend William J. Shea (Edward Ellis) manages NYC’s Hotel Variety with daughter Barbara (Phyllis Brooks). The theatrical boardinghouse’s landlady Sarah Wendling (Edna May Oliver) lives across the street.

“Old Pumpkin” gives Pop five days to pay past-due rent. Sarah’s orphaned nephew Roger (George Murphy) joins Betsy at Sarah’s. Sarah rejects:
  • $5.00 from Betsy’s piggy bank;

  • Roger’s input as Variety’s third owner.

Barbara rejects Roger’s $2,500 loan.

Betsy and Roger attend Sarah’s brother Willoughby’s “Hot and Happy Four” practice sessions. City Club’s secretary (Harry C. Bradley) criticizes Willoughby’s barbershop quartet. Pop collects $2,500 with:

  • Willoughby’s 52-week booking of Variety’s $40.00 suite;

  • $5.00 and $8.00 Downs and Tri-State winnings;

  • Pawned items.

Pop does not need Jazz Bandits bandleader Jimmy Clayton’s (Jimmy Durante) $25.00 from pawned objects.

Barbara and Roger date. Sarah enchants Roger with:

  • “Auld Lang Syne”;

  • “Be Optimistic” with Brewster Twins Barbara and Gloria;

  • “How Can I Thank You?”;

  • “If All the World Were Paper”;

  • “Little Miss Broadway” and “We Should Be Together” (with him);

  • “Swing Me an Old-fashioned Song”;

  • “Thank You for the Use of the Hall”.

Sarah orders:

  • Betsy’s departure;

  • The lovebirds’ separation;

  • Variety’s razing since trainer Ole’s (El Brendel) penguin violates the animal-free lease.

Betsy and Roger hide at Sarah’s. Roger organizes Betsy’s surprise birthday party. Sarah returns early from vacation.

Jimmy claims that Betsy visits Flossie’s (Patricia Wilder) relatives in Dixie. Sarah’s detective (Robert Gleckler) removes Betsy to Madrey. Roger sues estate executor/trustee Sarah for:

  • $1,500 to book theaters for Pop’s performers;

  • Variety.

Judge Hart (Claude Gillingwater) must rule on the soundness of Roger’s plans. Perry (Russell Hicks) observes that a Broadway show with Variety performers undoubtedly will flop. Betsy shows up to suggest that any ruling must follow witnessing what Variety’s troupe can do.

The movie ends with:

  • Everyone applauding Variety’s courtroom performance;

  • A viewer asking to engage Variety’s troupe for $2,500/week at International Follies;

  • Sarah finalizing the offer at $5,000/week;

  • Betsy requesting a marriage license for adoptive parents Barbara and Roger.


Shirley Temple and George Murphy sing and dance We Should Be Together in Little Miss Broadway

Published on YouTube on July 6, 2010, by 554689565 ~ URL:

Shirley Temple Little Miss Broadway ~ full length movie

Uploaded Jan. 15, 2018, by dd235686 to YouTube ~ URL:



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


Image Credits

photo by Harris & Ewing; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Harris & Ewing Collection: Public Domain, via Wikimedia CommonsPublic Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @; No known restrictions, via Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) @
554689565. "Shirley Temple We Should Be Together." YouTube, July 7, 2010, @
dd235686. "Shirley Temple Little Miss Broadway From Little Miss Broadway 1938." YouTube, Jan. 15, 2018, @
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

"Little Miss Broadway": a song-and-tap dance delight

Includes Restored Colorized and Black & White Versions
Little Miss Broadway

Shirley Temple Black's autobiography

Child Star: An Autobiography

Shirley Temple's Home

Santa Monica, California - Shirley Temple's Home

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: 01/04/2023, DerdriuMarriner
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