THE BLUE BIRD was Twentieth Century-Fox's answer to MGM's THE WIZARD OF OZ. Shirley Temple was originally mentioned for the role of Dorothy in OZ, though Fox was leary about releasing her from her contract.
Based on the play by Maurice Maeterlinck, the story recounts one sad and angry little girl, Mytyl (Shirley Temple) who journeys with her brother Tyltyl (Johnny Russell) to find the 'bluebird of happiness'. Joining the children on the quest are the children's pets - cat Tylette (Gale Sondergaard) and dog Tylo (Eddie Collins) who have been magically changed to human-form.
Just like in OZ, the film changes from drab black-and-white to glowing and rich Technicolor, though OZ is of course the superior of the two. Shirley Temple is given more of a dramatic range to work with here, playing a little girl with rougher edges and thus more 'real' than her previous film roles.
Gale Sondergaard is deliciously-devious as the children's cat, and Spring Byington is perfect as Mummy Tyl. Sybil Jason who co-starred with Temple the previous year in THE LITTLE PRINCESS, plays Mytyl's afflicted friend Angela.
Pros: Well acted and well cast with beautiful settings. Cons: It is only 83 minutes long! The Bottom Line: A simply beautiful movie for any age viewer This 1940 children's film was bashed by critics and generally considered to be Shirley Temple's least popular film. Based upon the play by Maurice Maeterlinck and inspired by the production The Wizard of Oz, critics claimed it was too heavy-handed. Shirley was an amazing … more
Byron has been actively involved in theatre since the age of 12. He has had a great variety of roles (both on-stage and off). In addition he has hosted the long-running "Show Business" programme … more
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Shirley Temple stars in this fairy tale about imaginary lands and the true values of kindness and happiness. The journey begins when Mytyl (Temple) captures a unique bird in the royal forest, then refuses to pass it on to her bedridden best friend. That night, Mytyl is visited in a dream by a fairy who sends her and her brother, Tytyl (John Russell), on a quest for the bluebird of happiness. Accompanied by their pet dog and cat, Mytyl and Tytyl set out on an adventure into the past, the future, and the Land of Luxury--only to find the bluebird in a most unexpected place. Much like THE WIZARD OF OZ, which was released the previous year, THE BLUE BIRD begins with a black-and-white prologue, then switches to lavish Technicolor when the children enter fantastic lands, a transformation that highlights the film's dazzlingly magical soul.