Willie Winkie (USA 1937, (dir) John Ford)
Star An Autobiography. Shirley Temple Black
Reffering to a scene where my stage mother,
June Lang, verbally threatens to box my ears for trampling her
petunias and falling into a mud puddle, Zanuck sent cryptic words
that the action was "Not strong enough." A responce to
this dictum was being debated between Ford and associate producer
Gene Markey as mother knitted nearby. Her needles suddenly
stopped clicking. "Why don`t you get her spanked?" she
asked. "Spanked!" blurted Markey, examining mother as
if she wore horns. "The screen`s greatest box-office magnet?
The public wouldn`t stand for it!" Markey`s credentials on
feminine discipline should have been impeccable, based on
successive marriages to three highly spirited actresses, Joan
Bennett, Hedy Lamarr, and Myrna Loy. "Nonsense," mother
answered. "Every child gets spanked." She resumed her
knitting. "Even i`ve spanked shirley." To spank me
loomed as so important a decision, it was bucked back for Zanuck`s
confirmation, thereby spreading the blame for any negative result.
"Spank her," Zanuck responded. Sweet and winsome in her
ruffled lace collar and black string tie, lang surely realised
some jeapordy to her career, as well as to my bottom. "I won`t,"
she said firmly. From behind his dark glasses Ford fixed her with
a long balefull stare, pipe clenched motionless at the down-turned
corner of his mouth. Now he had another problem. Only i knew the
impasse was unnecessary, well aware where my insesitivity was
located. "Sure, spank me," i said brightly. "Please
Miss Lang. It`ll be fun!" Lang was stuck, pressured from all
sides, so up i crawled over her knees and clung white-knuckled to
the chair arm. In slow motion she raised her hand and landed a
soft slap just where my nightdress began to flare. I puckered up
sorrowfully, but ford had stopped the cameras. "June, dear,"
his tone was sarcastic. "Are you dusting her off? Your wrist
was as limp as if you were waving good-bye. Let`s try it again!"
This time lang came slapping down with authority, twelve times in
a row. I counted aloud, "...Six...Seven, ouch!...Ten, Eleven,
Twelve, ouch!" The camera stopped, so i turned and looked up.
She was staring dejectedly at her open palm. "Don`t feel bad,"
i said reassuringly. "I feel fine." Looking toward Ford,
i whispered, "bet her hand stings." Grinning, he tipped
up his tinted glasses. His eyes looked watery and sentimental, a
hopefull sign of progress.
please note - the
spanking scene was cut from the released version of wee willie