Film Review of Little Miss Marker: Shirley Temple in 1934 Drama as Marker for a Bet in Horse Racing

by DerdriuMarriner

How does a character played by six-year-old Shirley Temple change horse racing in the 1934 film version of "Little Miss Marker"?

A father has no clue how to make ends meet after his wife dies.

He tries to support his daughter in the only way he knows: betting.

How will the little girl handle being orphaned and raised by golddiggers and tightwads in “Little Miss Marker”?

In 1998 the Library of Congress selected "Little Miss Marker" for preservation in the United States Film Registry on the basis of aesthetic, cultural, and/or historical significance.

Shirley Temple with Bette Davis at 7th Academy Awards, February 27, 1935, Biltmore Hotel, Los Angeles

Shirley was honored with the first Academy Juvenile Award; she holds the record, at age 6, of youngest Oscar winner ever.
Bette Davis and Shirley Temple
Bette Davis and Shirley Temple


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’s winnings.

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:

  • Sorrowful ending speedballing Dream Prince and forming a family with Bangles and Marky;

  • Bangles and Marky singing “Laugh You Son of a Gun”.


Shirley Temple & Dorothy Dell - Laugh You Son of a Gun 1934 Little Miss Marker

Uploaded April 26, 2011, by warholsoup100 to YouTube ~ URL:



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


Image Credits


Bette Davis and Shirley Temple: kate gabrielle (classic film scans), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @[email protected]/5350768271/

warholsoup100. "Shirley Temple & Dorothy Dell - Laugh You Son of a Gun 1934 Little Miss Marker." YouTube, April 26, 2011, @


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Trio of Shirley Temple films:

Little Miss Marker (1938); Now and Forever (1934: with Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard); The Runt Page (1932: from Baby Burlesks)
Shirley Temple: Little Darling Pack

Shirley Temple Black's autobiography

Child Star: An Autobiography

Shirley Temple as "Little Miss Marker"

Shirley Temple

famous prayer scene from "Little Miss Marker"

LITTLE MISS MARKER, Shirley Temple, 1934

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: 06/03/2023, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 02/19/2014

Mira, Me, too, I agree that it's a lovely photo of Shirley Temple with Bette Davis.
Oftentimes one has to search to see the face of childhood in a teenager, young adult, or adult. But Shirley Temple's features remained recognizable throughout her life = quite charming.
I hope that you enjoy this movie. I've seen all of ST's films many times, and I enjoy all of them.

Mira on 02/19/2014

What a lovely photo, the one with Bette Davis!! And her face at six, so much like the teenager Shirley Temple!
Will be back to see the movie :)

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