Little Big Shot (1935 film)

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Little Big Shot
Little Big Shot lobby card.JPG
Lobby card
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Written by
Produced by Samuel Bischoff
Starring Sybil Jason
Glenda Farrell
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited by Jack Killifer
Music by Heinz Roemheld
Frank Dixon
Allie Wrubel
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • September 7, 1935 (1935-09-07)
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited States

Little Big Shot is a 1935 American film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Sybil Jason and Glenda Farrell. [1] [2] The film was released by Warner Bros. on September 7, 1935. The plot concerns a young girl who endears herself to her caretakers after her father is murdered by mobsters.



Mortimer Thompson and Steve Craig are a pair of sidewalk confidence men working Broadway one step ahead of the police selling phony watches. Broke, they arrange to have dinner with Gibbs, an old friend, thinking that he will help them with some money. However, Gibbs is broke as well and thinks that Steve and Mortimer can help him. Gibbs and his young daughter Gloria are hiding from notorious gangster Kell Norton. After Steve, Mortimer, Gibbs and Gloria finish their dinner, Gibbs is shot and killed by Norton's men as the group leaves the restaurant. Steve and Mortimer flee, hastily leaving Gloria behind. Despite Mortimer's protestations, Steve convinces him to go back for the girl.

Gloria stays with Steve and Mortimer for a night and takes Mortimer's bed, forcing Mortimer to sleep in the bathroom. Steve tries to deposit Gloria in an orphanage but is overcome with guilt when she begins to cry. Steve and Mortimer try to care for Gloria with the help of Jean, a hat-check girl at their residential hotel. Steve and Mortimer discover that Gloria can sing and dance, so they have her perform on the street with them. Gloria also helps them sell their fake watches although Jean disapproves.

Jean places Gloria in an orphanage because Steve and Mortimer are not responsible enough to take care of her. Steve wins a craps game with small-time hoodlum Jack Doré to raise money, but Doré refuses to pay and Steve threatens revenge. Later, Norton kills Doré and passes Steve, who is arriving to demand Doré for his winnings so that he can adopt Gloria. Steve becomes the suspect for the crime. Norton realizes that Steve is a witness against him and tries to locate and silence him. To force Steve out of hiding, Norton kidnaps Gloria. Steve convinces the gangsters to release Gloria and take him instead. Just as Norton's gang is about to kill Steve, the police (informed by Mortimer and Jean) arrive at the hideout. His name cleared, Steve marries Jean and they adopt Gloria. Steve, Jean, Gloria and Mortimer move away from the city and open a roadside café.



Warner Bros. hired five-year-old South African Sybil Jason to compete with Twentieth Century-Fox's Shirley Temple, and Little Big Shot marked Jason's American screen debut. In the film, Jason performs imitations of Greta Garbo, Mae West and Jimmy Durante. [3]

Byron Haskins finished the photography on the film, but only Tony Gaudio received screen credit.


The film's soundtrack includes songs written by Frank Dixon and Allie Wrubel:


In a contemporary review for The New York Times , critic Andre Sennwald wrote: "Convinced that Hollywood is suffering from a drought rather than a plague of baby Bernhardts, Warner Brothers have imported a new one, Miss Sybil Jason, from South Africa. She performs all the triple-threat functions in 'Little Big Shot', including a couple of impersonations and a song and dance. An engaging infant, she suffers just now from a studied quality that may be the result of overdirection. In some of her big emotional close-ups, the bewildered little girl seems to be making a valiant effort to take advice from half a dozen assistant directors all at once. Then, too, there is the additional difficulty that her British accent makes many of her lines unintelligible." [4]

Variety commented on the obvious attempt to compete with Shirley Temple, whose 1934 hit film Little Miss Marker had a very similar plot. [5]

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  1. "Little Big Shot". Moviefone. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  2. "Little Big Shot (1935)". All Movie. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  3. "Little Big Shot". American Film Institute: Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  4. Sennwald, Andre (October 7, 1935). "Emergence of a New Child Star in "Little Big Shot," the New Photoplay at the Roxy Theatre". The New York Times . p. 11.
  5. "Little Big Shot". Retrieved April 5, 2023.