Shirley Temple – The Kid’s Last Fight
The Baby Burlesk short film The Kid’s Last Fight featured Shirley Temple as the “girlfriend” of a boxer, Diaper Dempsey. The opening scene encompasses a classic Baby Burlesk scene in which lots of babies are in a gym training. Most of them are lifting weights and hitting punching bags. Shirley enters the room and immediately the attention shifts to her. She starts walking towards Diaper when, all of a sudden, Pop Skull McGee (the defending boxing champion and Diaper’s next opponent) grabs her by the arm, pulls her to him, and exclaims, “Hello cutie!” Shirley responds by slapping him and, subsequently, Diaper walks over and shoves him. Diaper then goes on to proclaim that he has never lost a fight when Shirley has been in attendance. After hearing this, McGee devises a plan to kidnap Shirley so that she cannot go to the fight. During the fight, McGee is putting a beating on Diaper. Shirley escapes her kidnapper and shows up in the middle of the fight. When Diaper sees her, he gathers the energy to knock McGee out. This Burlesk is a satire of Jack Dempsey, a legend in the boxing world.
After watching the Burlesk War Babies in class, we discussed the inappropriate innocence in the children, but the grown-up actions that they take. In The Kid’s Last Fight, there were not many overly inappropriate, sexually implicit actions taken. One could think that the way McGee grabbed Shirley and yanked her towards him was inappropriate, but it was not something that stood out very much. However, the more inappropriate or disturbing actions in this short film took the form of violence. The entire short was about the babies in a boxing match, beating each other up. While some people might be disturbed by that, it seemed like one of the more tame Baby Burlesk’s that I have seen.