(1937)3Craig ButlerOne of Shirley Temple's best vehicles, Wee Willie Winkie benefits from a sturdy screenplay (quite freely drawn from a Rudyard Kipling story) and John Ford's assured and sensitive direction. Ford, well known for his incredible Westerns, is working in rather unusual territory here, but he shows a surprising ability to showcase the famous moppet star in a manner that satisfies her fans yet still maintains the integrity of the story. Granted, there are some aspects of the screenplay that will be problematic to modern viewers, the two most notable being the depiction of the South Asian characters and the incredibly naïve and simplistic resolution of the conflict between the warring factions. But Ford's energetic work helps to overcome these flaws, and he shoots some very exciting action sequences of a sort not typically found in a Temple flick; as a matter of fact, some of the moments are, in the context of a children's film, fairly violent. The little star is quite good, her precious sparkle allowed to shine without becoming cloying, and she gets good support from burly Victor McLaglen and semi-villainous Cesar Romero. The production values are also quite good. Winkie has a bit more sugar than one expects from Ford, but much less than one expects from Temple -- a good middle ground.