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Kiddin’ Hollywood

The “Baby Burlesk” I chose was called “Kiddin’ Hollywood”, which is a play on words meant to represent both the actuality of the film (kids acting in Hollywood) as well as the critique of Hollywood’s fickleness which is the short’s underlying theme. In the film, a beauty pageant winner named Morelegs Sweetrick is rejected during a casting call for a Hollywood movie. She instead finds work scrubbing the floors around the stage. Her big chance appears when the prissy, diva of a leading female in the film- Freta Snobbo- refuses to come on the set. Morelegs lands the role, and impresses her castmates and director with her performance. Fame gets to her head too quickly though, and after wrapping up filming she rejects the advances of her budding costar in search of a “Rolls Royce and a maid”. She went from being a humble floor cleaner to Freta Snobbo herself. The movie, however, is a complete bust, and Sweetrick finds her aspiring film career grounded prior to takeoff. While wallowing in her own failure, her previously rejected costar returns for her, confesses his enduring love, and takes her hand in marriage.

The film does not satirize a prior work, rather instead choosing to satirize individual prominent figures in Hollywood at the time. Freta Snobbo is meant to represent actress Greta Garbo, who was renown at the time as being an odd figure, who frequently caused problems on movie sets because of her disdain for crowds and preference for being constantly alone. This made her come off as “snobbish”, hence the joke. Morelegs Sweetrick is meant to satirize actress Marlene Dietrich, who was known to pursue roles with an unheard of ferocity. If there was a role she desired, she would do everything in her power to get it.

This particular burlesque is a prime example of what John Kasson mentions in his text “Behind Shirley Temple’s Smile”: 

“Shirley Temple’s early roles were perched ambiguously on the cusp between innocence and flirtatiousness.” (course packet, page 197).

The attire that Temple dons as “Morelegs Sweetrick” is meant to simulate that of a high class mistress. The name “Morelegs” is a reference to Temple’s legs, which is very inappropriate when used to refer to a child but would be much more common if used to refer to a woman of questionable morals in an adult film. The word “trick” is often used to describe sexual favors performed by a prostitute, and in combination with the word “sweet” the name as a whole was meant to be highly suggestive and an inside joke among adults. There is also the matter of the kiss; a long passionate kiss that, while appearing innocent between children, would be much considered much more risque among an older crowd. Finally, there is the matter of Sweetrick becoming a materialistic girl interested in the fancy things in life. This is evident when she flirts with her director after the closing of the film because in him she sees the possibility of a “Rolls Royce and a maid”. Love for money, a concept that is very adult.


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