Shirley Temple appears in Technicolor for the first time. Transposition of the Frances Hodgson Burnett several-generation favorite, Sara Crewe, is accomplished most successfully.
The fairy-tale story is still saccharine to the nth degree, but once the basic premise is established, it rolls along acceptably. And, while the story has been changed for screen purposes, the general line is close enough.
Temple is cast as Sara Crewe. Her father (Ian Hunter) goes off to war with the Boers, and leaves the youngster in Mary Nash’s school. Shirley is immediately dubbed ‘The Little Princess’ because of her regal bearing and attitude. When word comes her father has died, Shirley is made a galley slave by Nash, who mistreats her in every way possible.
Sole song and dance sequence, portraying a dream of Shirley’s, stands out on its own.