In Shirley Temple’s 1935 movie Our Little Girl, she and her parents celebrate two special days each year–a “May Saturday” and a “September Saturday.” The threesome packs a picnic lunch and goes to the bank of a pretty creek in the woods, a spot they call Heaven’s Gate.
Shirley’s father is a busy doctor who spends too much time working. His pretty nurse is devoted to his work and is in love with him. At home Shirley’s mother is lonely. She slowly falls in love with her husband’s best friend, who has plenty of time for her. Eventually she tells her husband that she is going to marry his friend.
Shirley learns about her mother’s plans and decides to run away on the date of their annual “September Saturday.” She packs her own picnic lunch and leaves for Heaven’s Gate alone. When her parents learn that she is missing, they both search for her and find her at Heaven’s Gate. There the three become a family again.
I like Our Little Girl because of the lessons it teaches, but I have a hard time remembering its title. One time I googled “Shirley Temple September Saturday,” while searching for the title. I came across a New York Times review from 1935. The reviewer calls Shirley Temple’s movies “sentimental syrup.” The article said that in comparison with Shirley Temple movies, Pollyanna and the Bobbsey Twins are “gutter realism.”
It’s true that Shirley Temple often played the role of a little girl who fixes the adults around her—a role that no child should ever have to play in real life. I like Our Little Girl anyway because of these three messages:
- Working so much that we neglect our families is dangerous.
- Spending time alone with members of the opposite sex is dangerous.
- Fathers, mothers, and their children loving one another and staying together is the right thing to do.
So I will continue to like Our Little Girl and its sentimental syrup. I’ll keep enjoying the movie Pollyanna, too, because I believe the world could use more people who play the “glad game” like Pollyanna. Now, as for the Bobbsey Twins, you’ll have to ask Ray about those; he grew up reading one after another. I hope that today is a wonderful November Saturday for you.
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord,
urge you to walk in a manner worthy
of the calling with which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another in love,
being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace.