Film Review of Now I’ll Tell: Shirley Temple in 1934 Film Drama With Spencer Tracy

by DerdriuMarriner

In the 1934 film version of "Now I’ll Tell," characters played by Shirley Temple and Spencer Tracy get through Prohibition.

Two boys choose different paths.

One ends up as the police detective father of a character played by Shirley Temple. The other has trouble shaking gals, gamblers, and gangsters for the respectability he craves and the wife he loves in “Now I’ll Tell." "Now I'll Tell" was the only film featuring Shirley Temple with Spencer Tracy (April 5, 1900 - June 10, 1967).

Singer-actress Alice Faye (May 5, 1915 – May 9, 1998) appeared in two musicals with Shirley in 1936:
• "Poor Little Rich Girl," released on July 24, 1936, and
• "Stowaway," released on Christmas Day, 1936.

Spencer Tracy made 25 films -- including "Now I'll Tell" -- while under contract with Fox Films Corporation.

Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy


It can be easier to pass through a needle’s eye than shake gambling in Now I’ll Tell by writer Edwin J. Burker; producer Winfield R. Sheehan; and director Edwin J. Burke. Ernest Palmer; Harold Schuster; and Harry Akst, Lew Brown and Arthur Lange handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases California’s Movietone City.

The 72-minute drama adapts Mrs. Arnold Robinson’s (Carolyn Greene) novel about husband Arnold Rothstein (January 17, 1882 – November 6, 1928). Its distributor was Fox Film Corporation. Its USA-premiere and release dates were May 11 and June 8, 1934.


The movie begins with Murray Golden (Spencer Tracy) sending himself a telegram from multi-millionaire Harry Payne Whitney. He brings the wire to the Saratoga racetrack in order to place a $200 bet. He celebrates even though he loses. He marries a racetrack and party attendee, Virginia (Helen Twelvetrees).

By 1914, Murray is a happy husband and successful gambler. On their wedding anniversary, Murray promises Virginia to retire. He reneges after:

  • Getting gangster Al Mossiter (Robert Gleckler) to leave the gambling house;

  • Having Al’s girlfriend Peggy Warren (Alice Faye) become the cabaret singer “Fooling with the Other Woman’s Man”;

  • Winning $500,000+.

By 1919, Murray has his gambling operations. Peggy has Murray’s time, $100,000 in trust funds, and Park Avenue for an address. Virginia has Murray’s love and money.

Virginia attends a championship fight. She does not know that Al and Murray respectively pay Eddie Traylor (Ray Cooke) and George Curtis (Frank Marlowe) to lose. Al loses big and Murray wins big.

Murray denies being involved with Peggy. He describes Peggy as business associate Freddie Stanton’s (Hobart Cavanaugh) mistress. He switches to insurance after Eddie dies.

By 1924, Al decides upon revenge. He gets George drunk enough to reveal Murray’s pay-off. He kidnaps Virginia.

Murray attempts to:

  • Bribe childhood friend/police detective Tommy Doran (Henry O’Neill);

  • Charm Tommy’s wife (Alice Calhoun), son Tommy Jr. (Ronnie Cosby), and daughter Mary (Shirley Temple).

Tommy refuses all bribes and toys. Murray runs when Freddie calls about Virginia’s abduction.

Peggy dies when Murray’s cab and a truck collide. Freddie pays for Virginia’s release. Divorce-minded Virginia travels to Paris.

In 1928, Murray loses $50,000 playing cards with Al. He misinterprets as conciliatory Virginia’s telegrammed return. Virginia plans to empty the safe-deposit box and marry husband #2.

Murray agrees to a crap game after pawning Virginia’s jewelry. He loses $200,000. He threatens to identify Al as Eddie’s killer.

The movie ends with Murray:

  • Getting shot by Al;

  • Having Freddie bring Virginia to the hospital;

  • Hearing Virginia’s lie about reconciling;

  • Perishing with the knowledge that his insurance policy recovers Virginia’s jewelry.


Alice Faye: "Fooling with the Other Woman's Man" (1934) ~ Alice Faye sings while Spencer Tracy raptly listens in scene from "Now I'll Tell."

Uploaded to YouTube on August 26, 2011 by Alice Faye: Fair Miss Faye ~ URL:



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


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

Now I'll Tell (1934) DVD

Shirley Temple films

Shirley Temple: A Pictorial History of the World's Greatest Child Star by Rita Dubas

Features film stills, many never-before-seen photographs, and personal snapshots of Shirley.
Shirley Temple biographies

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover Giving Child Actress Shirley Temple a Department of Justice Tour

In 1938, two years after appearing in crime drama, "Now I'll Tell," Shirley Temple received a personal tour of the Department of Justice.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover Giving Child Actress Shirley Temple a Department of Justice Tour

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: 01/04/2022, DerdriuMarriner
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