Film Review of That Hagen Girl: Shirley Temple in 1947 Drama With Ronald Reagan

by DerdriuMarriner

"That Hagen Girl" shows what hateful gossip does and does not do to characters played by Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan.

Gossip aims to hurt, not to clarify.

It can have a long shelf-life since its practitioners skulk behind their subjects’ backs. What will happen when those most hurt by hateful rumors join ranks in “That Hagen Girl”? In 1981, thirty-seven years after the release of "That Hagen Girl," Shirley Temple worked again with Ronald Reagan.

During the Reagan presidency, Shirley served as Foreign Affairs Officer-Expert with the Department of State (Foreign Service Institute).

That Hagen Girl was the third of three Shirley Temple films released in 1947.

Over a jigsaw puzzle, Tom Bates (Ronald Reagan) offers to pay for college for Mary Hagen (Shirley Temple) in That Hagen Girl.
Over a jigsaw puzzle, Tom Bates (Ronald Reagan) offers to pay for college for Mary Hagen (Shirley Temple) in That Hagen Girl.


Gossip does not consider facts in That Hagen Girl by writer Charles Hoffman, producer Alex Gottlieb, and director Peter Godfrey. Karl Freund, David Weisbart, and Franz Waxman handle cinematography, editing, and music. Filming showcases California’s Burbank and Universal studios.

The 83-minute film adapts Edith Kneipple Roberts’ (born 1902) 1946-published, same-named novel. Its distributor was Warner Bros. Its NYC-premiere and USA-release dates were October 24 and November 1, 1947.

The movie begins with Jim (Charles Kemper) and Minta (Dorothy Peterson) adopting baby Mary (Shirley Temple) from an orphanage in Evanston, Illinois. Their return coincides with that of wealthy Trenton (Moroni Olsen) and Lorna (Barbara Brown) Gateley’s daughter. Townspeople find Grace’s (Kyle MacDonnell) and Mary’s eye and hair colors similar.

Tom Bates’ (Ronald Reagan) guardian Judge Merrivale (Harry Davenport) considers the rumors. He funds Tom’s law schooling elsewhere. He knows that Grace’s insanity -- not (non-existent) pregnancy -- provokes the couple’s break-up as boyfriend/girlfriend.

Two decades later, Tom is back in Jordan, Ohio. His guardian is dead. He meets Professor Julia Kane (Lois Maxwell) at a college dance.

Mary exits for a wardrobe malfunction. Dewey Koons (Conrad Janis) grabs Mary for a kiss. Julia keeps Mary from punishment for behavior unbecoming to a college student. Mary visits Chicago, Illinois after fellow student Sharon Bailey (Jean Porter) reveals the rumors.

Julia asks Mary to perform in “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare (1564-1616). Wealthy Ken Freneau (Rory Calhoun) asks Mary to his fraternity’s dance. Mary welcomes the change from kind friend to romantic date.

Board members (Florence Allen, Ed Russell) force Julia to have wealthy Herb (Douglas Kennedy) and Selma (Winifred Harris) Delaney’s daughter Christine (Penny Edwards) interpret Juliet. Molly (Nella Walker) forces her son to take Christine to the dance. Ken gets Christine drunk. As Christine’s substitute, Mary saves the day. She says “yes” to becoming Ken’s fiancée.

Minta dies without naming Mary’s biological parents. Mary initially disbelieves Tom’s insistence upon not being her father. Tom invites Mary on afternoon outings with him and Julia. He offers to fund Mary’s university education elsewhere. He receives the Order of Merit for wartime service in Washington, D.C. He returns to:

  • Christine and Ken eloping;

  • Dewey and 2 other students encouraging Mary to frequent a tavern;

  • Mary getting expelled;

  • The board inviting him to be graduation speaker;

  • Jim sharing Mary’s suicide note.

The movie ends with Tom:

  • Chiding the board for expelling only one of four tavern-going students;

  • Declining the invitation;

  • Finding Mary before she drowns;

  • Taking a train with Mary to pursue career and romance elsewhere.


That Hagen Girl (Preview Clip)

Published on YouTube on October 30, 2012 by warnerarchive ~ URL:



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


Image Credits

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

DVD: That Hagen Girl

That Hagen Girl

Shirley Temple Black's autobiography

Child Star: An Autobiography

Shirley Temple: Photoplay Magazine, June 1947

Shirley Temple

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: 06/03/2024, DerdriuMarriner
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