Wee Willie Winkie (USA 1937, (dir) John Ford)

Starring Shirley Temple

Child Star An Autobiography. Shirley Temple Black

Pages 175/176

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 winkie


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