Wee Willie Winkie (1937)

99 or 105 mins | Drama | 30 July 1937

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HISTORY

After Rudyard Kipling's story appeared in the Indian journal Week's News , it was included in a book of his short stories entitled Under the Deodars, The Phantom Rickshaw, Wee Willie Winkie (New York, 1899). According to HR production charts, Robert Ellis and Helen Logan worked on the screenplay of this film, but their contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. According to HR news items, Alfred Newman was borrowed from United Artists and Cesar Romero was borrowed from Universal for the production, although Romero was put under a long term contract with Twentieth Century-Fox after the film was released. According to a HR news item, actor George Hassell, who was in the cast, died while on the way to location shooting in Chatsworth, CA. MPH 's "In the Cutting Room" includes Douglas Gordon in the cast, but his participation in the completed film has also not been confirmed. According to the pressbook, Jack Pennick, who played a soldier in the picture, was an ex-Marine who had appeared in every film directed by John Ford in the previous fifteen years. Pennick acted as a technical advisor in training Shirley Temple and others to march. The pressbook also lists Bhogwan Singh Easer Sandhu as the technical advisor who taught Romero how to wrap a turban. Contemporary sources noted that the film was processed in specially toned and colored prints, using a double and triple toning technique. The NYT reviewer commented: "The photography, in warm sepia and restful blue tones, is a pleasant change from the ordinary black-and-white stock."
       The picture's gala ... More Less

After Rudyard Kipling's story appeared in the Indian journal Week's News , it was included in a book of his short stories entitled Under the Deodars, The Phantom Rickshaw, Wee Willie Winkie (New York, 1899). According to HR production charts, Robert Ellis and Helen Logan worked on the screenplay of this film, but their contribution to the completed picture has not been confirmed. According to HR news items, Alfred Newman was borrowed from United Artists and Cesar Romero was borrowed from Universal for the production, although Romero was put under a long term contract with Twentieth Century-Fox after the film was released. According to a HR news item, actor George Hassell, who was in the cast, died while on the way to location shooting in Chatsworth, CA. MPH 's "In the Cutting Room" includes Douglas Gordon in the cast, but his participation in the completed film has also not been confirmed. According to the pressbook, Jack Pennick, who played a soldier in the picture, was an ex-Marine who had appeared in every film directed by John Ford in the previous fifteen years. Pennick acted as a technical advisor in training Shirley Temple and others to march. The pressbook also lists Bhogwan Singh Easer Sandhu as the technical advisor who taught Romero how to wrap a turban. Contemporary sources noted that the film was processed in specially toned and colored prints, using a double and triple toning technique. The NYT reviewer commented: "The photography, in warm sepia and restful blue tones, is a pleasant change from the ordinary black-and-white stock."
       The picture's gala world premiere, held at the Carthay Circle Theatre on 25 Jun 1937, drew a crowd of more than 15,000 people, and was broadcast on the radio. It was also photographed for inclusion in Ali Baba Goes to Town , a 1937 Twentieth Century-Fox film starring Eddie Cantor (see above). Cantor emceed the radio broadcast and introduced some of the attending celebrities. In her autobiography, Temple notes that she was introduced by Tyrone Power at the premiere, and that she rates Wee Willie Winkie as the best of her films. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Interior Decoration.
       Although Temple asserts that Norway "banned our film entirely," information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that Norway approved the picture with deletions of "drastic scenes of fight between natives and Englishmen." Eleanor Roosevelt gave the film high praise in two of her daily syndicated columns, stating: "It is charming and no one could help but like it." On 28 Oct 1937, the English magazine Night and Day printed a review of the film by Graham Greene, who commented on Temple's "well-shaped and desirable little body," and her "dimpled depravity." Greene called her "a complete totsy" and "a fancy little piece," and asserted that her main admirers were "middle-aged men and clergymen." According to modern sources, at least one major London distributor refused to handle the issue in which the review appeared. In Nov 1937, Twentieth Century-Fox filed suit against Greene and the magazine, which had ceased publication by the time the case was brought to court. According to a 23 Mar 1938 MPD news item about the suit, Lord Chief Justice Hewart called the review a "gross outrage" and awarded £2,000 to Temple and £1,500 to Twentieth Century-Fox. In her autobiography, Temple notes that her award was "recycled immediately into 5 percent British War Loan Bonds to help arm sorely pressed England against a troubled Europe." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
20-Mar-37
---
Box Office
3-Jul-37
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
15 Sep 36
p. 8.
Film Daily
28 Jun 37
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 36
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 36
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jan 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 37
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Feb 37
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 37
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Apr 37
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 37
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 37
pp. 5-10.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jul 37
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
24 Jun 37
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
23 Mar 38
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald
6 Mar 37
p. 49.
Motion Picture Herald
3 Jul 37
pp. 44-45.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Jul 37
p. 88.
MPSI
1 Apr 37
p. 16.
New York Times
24 Jul 37
p. 12.
Night and Day
28-Oct-37
---
Variety
30 Jun 37
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck, in Charge of Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to scr const
Contr to scr const
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus score
STAND INS
Stand-in for C. Aubrey Smith
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Wee Willie Winkie" by Rudyard Kipling in Week's News (28 Jan 1888).
SONGS
"Auld Lang Syne," words by Robert Burns, music Scottish traditional.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 July 1937
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 25 June 1937
Philadelphia, Richmond and Baltimore openings: 16 July 1937
New York opening: 23 July 1937
Production Date:
late January--late March 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
30 July 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7613
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
sepia
Duration(in mins):
99 or 105
Length(in feet):
9,615
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3122
SYNOPSIS

Young Priscilla Williams and her impoverished mother Joyce travel to Northern India in 1897 to join Colonel Williams, Joyce's father-in-law whom she has never met. They are met at the train station by kindly Sergeant Donald MacDuff. As Joyce and MacDuff get the baggage, Priscilla witnesses the capture of rebel leader Khoda Khan, and she picks up a talisman that he drops. At the fort, Joyce and Priscilla meet the colonel, a gruff military man not used to women and children. Fearing that the colonel dislikes her, the next day Priscilla tries to gain his approval by becoming a soldier. She first seeks help from Private Mott, a young errand boy who scornfully rebukes her. She then turns to handsome Lieutenant Brandes, whom she has nicknamed Coppy, and he hands her to MacDuff. After christening Priscilla Private Wee Willie Winkie, a nickname from a Scottish rhyme, MacDuff tricks Mott out of his new uniform and gives it to her. Later that afternoon, Priscilla visits the imprisoned Khan and returns his talisman, for which he is very grateful. Later, MacDuff orders his troops to have a special drill so that Priscilla can practice marching, but the colonel, thinking that MacDuff is making fun of him, punishes him and his men. The colonel then reprimands Joyce, telling her that she and Priscilla must stay in their quarters and away from the men. As the days pass, Joyce and Priscilla keep to themselves, until one afternoon, Mohammet Dihn, the colonel's servant, gives Priscilla a note to deliver to Khan. Soon after, on the night of the company dance, Priscilla asks ... +


Young Priscilla Williams and her impoverished mother Joyce travel to Northern India in 1897 to join Colonel Williams, Joyce's father-in-law whom she has never met. They are met at the train station by kindly Sergeant Donald MacDuff. As Joyce and MacDuff get the baggage, Priscilla witnesses the capture of rebel leader Khoda Khan, and she picks up a talisman that he drops. At the fort, Joyce and Priscilla meet the colonel, a gruff military man not used to women and children. Fearing that the colonel dislikes her, the next day Priscilla tries to gain his approval by becoming a soldier. She first seeks help from Private Mott, a young errand boy who scornfully rebukes her. She then turns to handsome Lieutenant Brandes, whom she has nicknamed Coppy, and he hands her to MacDuff. After christening Priscilla Private Wee Willie Winkie, a nickname from a Scottish rhyme, MacDuff tricks Mott out of his new uniform and gives it to her. Later that afternoon, Priscilla visits the imprisoned Khan and returns his talisman, for which he is very grateful. Later, MacDuff orders his troops to have a special drill so that Priscilla can practice marching, but the colonel, thinking that MacDuff is making fun of him, punishes him and his men. The colonel then reprimands Joyce, telling her that she and Priscilla must stay in their quarters and away from the men. As the days pass, Joyce and Priscilla keep to themselves, until one afternoon, Mohammet Dihn, the colonel's servant, gives Priscilla a note to deliver to Khan. Soon after, on the night of the company dance, Priscilla asks the colonel, whom she has charmed by now, to escort Joyce to the dance. Unknown to them, however, Joyce has snuck out to the dance with Brandes, who has deserted his post to be with her. The evening is cut short when the rebels attack and free Khan. After the attack, the colonel arrests Brandes, and later, will not listen to Joyce's pleas, even when she declares that she and Priscilla are leaving. Despite the colonel's affection for them, he agrees that they should leave, but they are unable to go the next morning because the communication wires to town have been cut. Also that morning, a patrol returns after being ambushed. MacDuff has been seriously wounded, and Priscilla, unaware that he is dying, goes to visit him. She gives him some stolen flowers, and he dies as she sings "Auld Lang Syne" for him. The night of MacDuff's funeral, Priscilla questions the colonel about the necessity of war, and he tells her that it is Khan's fault. Priscilla then sneaks away to the stable to meet Dihn, whom she does not realize is a spy, and goes with him to see Khan. The next morning, after finding Priscilla and Dihn gone, the soldiers ride to Khan's fortress at Khyber Pass. Meanwhile, Dihn and Priscilla reach Khan, and he is overjoyed with having the child as a hostage. She tells Khan and his chieftains that they must discuss their problems with her grandfather, but as they laugh at her, Khan receives word from the colonel that the regiment will attack if Priscilla is not returned. Khan answers that he welcomes their attack, and so, knowing that the regiment will be wiped out if they charge, the colonel walks up alone. A sniper shoots at him and Priscilla runs to him, after which Khan walks down to meet them, for he does not want any harm to come to Priscilla. The trio returns to Khan's stronghold, where the leaders agree to a peaceful resolution to the hostilities. Later, at the parade grounds, Mott tells Priscilla that MacDuff would have been proud of her, and she goes to review the troops with her grandfather. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.