Life goes from awful to wonderful in Little Miss Marker by writers Gladys Lehman Hellman, Sam Hellman, and William R. Lipman; producer B.P. Schulberg; and director Alexander Hall. Alfred Gilks, William Shea, and Ralph Rainger handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases Los Angeles’ Paramount Studios.
The 80-minute drama adapts Alfred Damon Runyon’s (1880-1946) same-named short story. Its distributor was Paramount Pictures. Its USA-release date was June 1, 1934. It won Shirley Temple (born 1928) the 7th Annual Academy Awards’ First Juvenile Oscar on February 27, 1935.
The movie begins with Broadway bookies Regret (Lynne Overman) and Sorrowful Jones (Adolphe Menjou) accepting Martha Jane (Shirley Temple) as marker (collateral, IOU) for her father’s (Edward Earle) $20 bet on Dream Prince. Big Steve Halloway (Charles Bickford) owns the horse and the Horse Shoe Cabaret. He persuades:
- Associates to bet on Dream Prince’s defeat;
- Sorrowful to advance him $10,000.
Steve effectuates Dream Prince’s wins through drugs. Veterinarian/Doc Chesley (Frank McGlynn Sr) recommends a break from cocaine. Otherwise, Dream Prince will die while winning.
Bettors are unprepared for Dream Prince’s loss. Martha’s father commits suicide because of $500+ in losses. Newspapers question:
Dream Prince’s defeat;
Steve appoints Sore Toe (Warren Hymer) and Canvas Back (John Kelly) Little Miss Marker’s babysitters. He designates Sorrowful Marky’s guardian. He makes Marky Dream Prince’s owner. He relocates to Chicago to place bets. Such a charming owner will discourage investigations and suspicions.
Steve’s girlfriend, Bangles Carson (Dorothy Dell), becomes concerned about Marky’s slang-filled cynicism. She does not know that Steve’s maid (Mildred Gover) keeps Steve current. Sarah wires Steve after Bangles:
Dozes off while singing “Low Down Lullaby” to Marky in Sorrowful’s apartment;
Misses Steve’s four calls between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.;
Persuades Sorrowful to buy clothes for Marky and a suit for himself;
Shelters Marky when Detective Reardon (James Burke) has Sorrowful’s apartment searched.
Marky holds onto memories of her mother’s love for King Arthur (flourished 5th-6th centuries) stories. Bangles therefore organizes a Knights of the Round Table party. Everyone responds to a knightly name. They sing “Sidewalks of New York” and “The Bowery”. They wear knightly clothing.
Steve appears. He causes Dream Prince to rear up and throw Marky. Sorrowful gets Marky to the hospital. The best children’s surgeon, Dr. Ingalls (Frank Conroy), is hauled from his wedding to attend to Marky. Marky receives Steve’s blood transfusion.
The movie ends with: