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Daddy Long Legs 1931
Description: Wealthy Jervis Pendleton acts as benefactor for orphan Judy Abbott, anonymously sponsoring her in her boarding school. But as she grows up, he finds himself falling in love with her, and she with him, though she does not know that the boy she has fallen for is her benefactor.
Released: 05 Jun 1931 Director: Alfred Santell Writers: S.N. Behrman (additional dialogue), Sonya Levien (dialogue), Sonya Levien (screenplay), Jean Webster (play) Actors: Janet Gaynor, Warner Baxter, Una Merkel, John Arledge Genres: Comedy, Romance
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Daddy Long Legs Reviews:

"Daddy Long-Legs" was originally a best-selling novel by Jean Webster, filmed in the silent era (starring Mary Pickford) and then remade few times in the sound era, notably as the Shirley Temple film "Curly Top" (1935) and ultimately as a 1955 Fred Astaire musical. All the various versions have the same plot, with minor variations.Here's the plot: a well-to-do older boy is beguiled by a woman in an orphanage, and he arranges to sponsor her education. The orphan woman doesn't know the identity of her benefactor, but other orphan catches a glimpse of him and tells that he has long legs, so the orphan woman refers to her anonymous sponsor as "Daddy Long-Legs". Years later, as a young woman, she meets him. They fall in love and marry. Satisfied ending.There are two primary issues with this plot, in all (except one) of its different movie versions: the woman is attracted to a boy who's old enough to be her father, and he IS her father in a surrogate sense. Even worse, Daddy Long-Legs first becomes attracted to the woman when she's a minor: perhaps his original interest in her is genuinely paternal, but it definitely acquires a sexual tone by the time she reaches the brink of adulthood. Basically, the character marries his own stepdaughter. Maybe this sort of daddy's-little-girl relationship was acceptable back in the Gilded Age, when Jean Webster's novel was written, but nowadays it's in terrible taste.Janet Gaynor was an extremely famous ingenue in the late silent era and early talkie era, but her appeal has dated badly, and she's too bland for modern audiences. This 1931 makeover of "Daddy Long-Legs" is possibly the worst of all this story's many versions: the movie suffers from Gaynor's pale performance and a low cast. By far, the greatest movie ver of "Daddy Long-Legs" is "Curly Top", starring Shirley Temple. That movie is faithful to the original novel, but it deflects the Lolita trouble by splitting the stepdaughter into two characters: the little-girl orphan played by Shirley Temple, and her (adult) older sister played by Rochelle Hudson. The character (John Boles) directs all his romantic attentions towards Rochelle, while maintaining a fatherly relationship with tiny Shirley. Much better all round.Avoid watching the 1931 ver of "Daddy Long-Legs", and rent a video of "Curly Top" instead. It's got the same primary storyline with a much better cast, and without the unpleasant Lolita undertones which all the another versions possess.TRIVIA NOTE: About 45 years ago, I saw (but didn't read) a hardback edition of Jean Webster's novel "Daddy Long Legs" with a cover illustration rendering the novel's characters as small figures, dwarfed in the immense shadow of a large daddy-long-legs ... thus creating the weird (and false) impression that this is a science-fiction novel about giant arachnids or shrunken humans. I'd love to search other copy of that particular edition. Anybody seen it?



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