The Old Lady Baby
RIP Shirley. One of her youngest fans, the daughter of a good friend, discovered her on “the YouTube” and was mightily taken by her performance as “the old lady baby” in this clip ~
Mark Cousins excerpts the same scene in The Story of Film, and makes the complaint that Temple is too performative, not natural enough — I think a difficult point to make stick when the kid is singing a song, but he has a point more generally. Of course ST was the consummate pro even as a toddler — what you see is an incredibly skilled artifice, amazing in one so young, and a different kind of talent than those kids who are simply able to behave onscreen. With the amazing Bobby Henrey in THE FALLEN IDOL, which Monte Hellman has called the best-directed film he’s ever seen, we have a series of authentic bits of behaviour, extracted by director Carol Reed and assembled into a narrative. AD Guy Hamilton thought Henrey couldn’t act at all, because all he saw was the effort it took from Reed to get those moments, and all the other moments which were wrong and couldn’t be used.
Shirley, of course, would have been perfect every take of every shot. It’s just a different kind of talent — and she had more of her particular kind than any other kid who’s acted on the screen.
Unsettling images from BABY TAKE A BOW, or as I call it, THE BLUE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE.