Stubbornness can be overcome in The Little Colonel by writer William M. Conselman; producer Buddy G. DeSylva; and director David Butler. Arthur C. Miller and Cyril J. Mockridge handle cinematography and music. Filming showcases California’s Movietone City.
The 81-minute film adapts Annie Fellows Johnston’s (1863 - October 5, 1931) 1895-published novel. Its distributor was 20th Century-Fox. Its USA-release date was February 22, 1935.
The movie begins with Elizabeth Lloyd (Evelyn Venable) making father/Colonel Lloyd (Lionel Barrymore):
Happy by harping and singing “Love”s Young Dream”;
Unhappy by loving Jack Sherman (John Lodge), a Northerner whose mother was Virginia-born.
He cannot forget his son’s death during the War Between the States. He dashes a valuable vase -- for whose near-toppling he chides Walker (Bill Robinson) -- after Elizabeth reveals marriage with approval and eloping without.
Six years later, Elizabeth and Philadelphia-born daughter Lloyd (Shirley Temple) accompany Jack west. Colonel Gray (Robert Warwick) gives Lloyd an honorary colonel’s title. Elizabeth occupies mother Amanthis’ Lloydsburg cottage.
Lloyd finds Elizabeth crying after Colonel tosses his bouquet upon discovering his new neighbor’s identity. After Aunt Sally Tyler (Lucille Ward) arrives from Louisville for chicken soup lunch, Lloyd leaves to make mud pies with Henry Clay (Nyanza Potts) and May Lily (Avonne Jackson). She muddies Colonel’s suit after he prods her with his cane and before she hides behind Mom Beck (Hattie McDaniel). Becky presents grandfather to granddaughter and vice versa.
Lloyd gets Colonel’s bedsheets to baptize Henry. Colonel has Maria (Geneva Williams) dry Lloyd’s clothes and Walker get clothes from an attic trunk. He imagines Amanthis’ harping to Lloyd singing “Love’s Young Dream.”
While playing with toy soldiers, Colonel overturns Lloyd’s soldiers. Lloyd upends the table. She vows anger management if Colonel does likewise.
Jack appears broke and fever-stricken. Doctor Scott (William Burress) convinces Elizabeth to send Lloyd and dog Fritz to Colonel’s. Lloyd and Walker dance upstairs and to “My Old Kentucky Home.”
Jack accepts Union Pacific Railroad representative Jeremy Higgins’ (Charles C. Higgins) $5,000 right-of-way offer. Elizabeth gets the deed from the bank. Lloyd hears Hull (Alden Chase) and Swazey (Sidney Blackmer) threaten Jack for not selling the deed for what he paid them. She negotiates scary woods to Colonel’s overseer’s (Captain C.E. Anderson) cottage. She threatens to shun such a hateful, wicked old man when Colonel refuses to help.
The movie ends with Colonel:
Arriving as Swazey takes Jack’s deed from Elizabeth;
Gunning the pistol from Hull’s right hand;
Having Sheriff Williams (John Ince) arrest Hull and Swazey;
Hugging Elizabeth and shaking Jack’s hand;
Saluting Union-style to Lloyd’s Confederate-style salute at “pink” family-and-friends festivities.