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  • I must admit that this movie was the sort that you can't stop watching after it starts. Shirley Temple plays a 17-year-old (Mary Hagen) that has mystery surrounding her birth and who her parents are - and as a result is mercilessly discriminated against by the entire "town elite". Temple is splendid in this role as I believe is the best performance of her career. Solid performance by co-star Ronald Reagen as he played the man who everyone suspected was Mary Hagen's father. The entire cast puts in solid performances as well.

    Give "That Hagen Girl" movie a chance, I don't care what the average rating is!
  • I disagree with the person who said the story line of "That Hagen Girl" is "totally improbable." Scandals involving premarital and extramarital sex and illegitimate children were prevalent in small towns in the 1940s and still are. Also, in the 1940-1960s many small towns (including the one where I grew up) still had an influential white collar class of people who acted and dressed exactly like the characters in "That Hagen Girl." As for the Ken Freneau character being a spineless Mama's boy, there are people of this sort in every generation and in every community. I grew up in a small town in Indiana where my ancestors were the founders, and I moved back here after living in a big city for a few years. "That Hagen Girl" does an excellent job of depicting the nature and the populace of small towns in the Midwest.

    I believe the film was not appreciated initially because it was ahead of its time, for all that it presented social issues in a very tasteful and diplomatic way. No one has mentioned the mental illness of Grace (the high school girl friend of Tom Bates) or the reason for her condition. I believe the film implied that Grace's parents had pressured her to avoid scandal by having an abortion in Chicago and that afterward Grace was treated for a mental and emotional breakdown during the months she was absent from home. The Tom Bates character also hinted to Mary Hagen that Grace's "going away" and subsequent months in a psychiatric facility were the "reason" Mary could not be the illegitimate child he and Grace were suspected of conceiving.

    "That Hagen Girl" is very much like "Peyton Place," another film that shows the dark side of a small town. I believe "That Hagen Girl" is an equally well-written and well-acted film that deals with serious social problems. The film's tasteful approach to moral problems is what I would like to see in today's films. -- Mrs. Barney Beers
  • I have heard about this film for years and finally saw it on Turner Classic Movies this month. I had always read that the movie was a stinker, the performances were awful, and the subject matter odd. I found the film to be very suspenseful with a sense of mystery. I was incredibly surprised that the acting was like that in many other films of the day, and that the subject matter added to the bizarre creative twist of the plot. My only complaint with the movie is that the ending is somewhat quick and a disappointment after so much of a build up. The story has a good start and keeps you interested and then wraps everything up far too quickly without much explanation or reason. I am glad to finally get to see this film as it is one of those oldies that rarely ever makes it to television. Much less VHS or DVD.
  • TV showings of 'That Hagen Girl' became more and more rare as the years went on--but lately it surfaced on TCM when they saluted Shirley's birthday with showings of four of her films. Basically it's a story of the effect gossip has on a small-town girl (Temple as Mary Hagen)and lawyer (Ronald Reagan). Good performances by Rory Calhoun, Jean Porter and others. The meanness of the small-town gossip is well realized under Peter Godfrey's direction and the background score by Franz Waxman adds much to the melodramatic proceedings. Not really as bad as many would have you think. Shirley seems more poised and assured than usual (except in an embarrassing rendition from 'Romeo and Juliet') and she herself regards it as her best adult performance. Despite all of its flaws, it's worth viewing to watch the nineteen-year old actress opposite Ronald Reagan. His primary love interest in the film is Lois Maxwell (who later became Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond films). The ending is rather unresolved and unsatisfying--a curious ending for an odd film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Censorship...the Bane of all potentially good films. This so affected Studios, writers, Producers and Actors in the 40's and 50's, that they even started believing that being priggish, gossip-mongering, judgmental and dull were the way to go...which is how we got stuck with today's counter culture as a rebellion to those grizzly days, and how real human problems as Mary Hagen's were so sanitized, compromised and sterilized as to become vapid half movies when their potential started out great. I saw That Hagen Girl in my teens, and have looked everywhere on D.V.D. and V.H.S. for it. What's the big deal? A younger woman---an older man? What about the wonderful 'Daddy Long Legs' with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron? What about 'Susan Slept here with Debbie Reynolds and Dick Powell? What about "Love in the Afternoon" with Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn? Cooper also felt awkward doing the film, and looked older than Reagan, though Cooper was a GREAT actor while Reagan certainly never was, but ever since History began more savvy mature men have married younger women---no big deal, but the problem with this film, which despite it's flaws I truly enjoyed in part because of Shirley Temple's irresistible charm, and in part because of Conrad Janis' more realistic performance,(yep, the Conrad Janis who played Mindy's Dad on Mork and Mindy and recently in the November Conspiracy), and who, as in some of his many teen roles played heroic parts, as in Snafu, or Heartthrobs as in 'Margie', or 'Peck's bad boy' roles, as he did in The Brasher Doubloon and That Hagen girl where he is sassy and swaggering and dares to steal Shirley's first 'adult' kiss on film. That was a film history marker. He isn't sympathetic in this role but Shirley's unearned 'bad girl reputation' as a result of the town folks dirty minds, made her fair game, or so he thought, and it precipitates her asserting herself as something other than her reputation would indicate, and ultimately allows her to find true, albeit conflicted love with Reagan. Miss Temple's real life impending motherhood at the too early age of 19 made her self conscious and one dimensional in her responses to the natural exuberance of youth, and made her appear prematurely too 'grown-up' despite her youthful and wonderful face, and maybe just a little dour, but her charm and the 'Happy Ending' her character so obviously wanted should have been committed to wholeheartedly both by the leading actors, namely Reagan and Temple, but especially by the writers, and producers, and distributors---and they shouldn't have tippy-toed around the issue. I'm certain no one yelled 'Oooh...' when Gary Cooper scoops up a young 19 year old Hepburn onto his train, though he certainly looked over 55, even 60---why? Because he and Audrey Hepburn could sell us all the London Bridge twice over, and if SHE believed that love conquers all, as she also showed us in 'Charades' with Cary Grant and that age doesn't have to mean a thing, then WE as the audience would believe it too. Too many prudes in That Hagen Girl, unfortunately, except for, as mentioned the 'bad boy' show-off, but very cute Conrad Janis...and how bad was he really compared to today? No Uzis, no Crack, no raping, rapping, or piercings...so I give it a 9 for being heads above what we are all forced to view these days, and for being sweet, with relatively 'small' problems compared to the mildest Soap Operas of today. Show it more often...and get it on D.V.D. PLEASE. And P.S. I'm 28, successful, but prefer these classics.
  • I really liked this movie. It's not one of the greats, but a great example of the many ordinary feature films of the 1940's.

    If you think of Shirley Temple as just a child actor, or Ronald Reagan as a third rate actor who's popularity quickly waned, this film will disabuse you of these ideas.

    The story is about a girl (Shirley Temple) growing up in a small town who is victimized by rumors of her being the illegitimate child of Ronald Reagan. This character study has strong characters and a thin story line, but the fine acting holds the movie together. The plot line, while not compelling in and of itself, still allows for a story that is interesting and keeps you wondering just what will happen and how things will turn out in the end. The supporting cast also does a fine job. The antagonists of the film are not so vile that you hate them, they are just unlikable, arrogant and pretentious.

    The film is a good rendition of "the way things were" in an age when tongues wagged over sexual scandals, and where you came from predisposed people to think of other people in very stereotypical ways. Mary Hagen having been born out of wedlock (or so it is rumored), is presumed to be a "bad girl" whose every act is viewed with suspicion and seen in the worst possible light. The class structure of small American towns in the 1940's is accurately depicted. All in all, this is a good film, well worth watching. I recommend it highly. Not all movies can be great, but this film is well worth watching as a quality movie, an example of what Hollywood can do when it merely doing a good job. See it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ...And I thought I would be seeing a light-hearted comedy. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

    Believe it or not, Ronald Reagan gives a fairly good performance as a man who it is rumored fathered an illegitimate child.

    Nice to see Shirley Temple all grown up in her mature role as the illegitimate one. Naturally, she is sweet as she has to face a hostile town. With the insurance money that auntie left her adopted parents, why didn't they all move out of that Peyton Place of a town?

    Rory Calhoun, young with those heavy eye-lashes, is hopelessly cast as the young man who loved Shirley (Mary) but married another to parental pressure.

    Lois Maxwell is the new teacher in town ready to buck the conventional tenets of the strict traditionalists. She loves Reagan but winds up not getting him when the secret is finally revealed. Who Mary really is was handled very clumsily in the film. It was rather a rushed ending, almost like a shot-gun wedding. However, the picture does try to show the effects of illegitimacy. Remember "Blossoms in the Dust?"
  • KimB-330 January 2001
    "That Hagen Girl" is a fairly formulaic condemnation of small-town values. Mary Hagen is a young woman whose questionable parentage has caused her to be the subject of gossip and discrimination by the town elite. Her teacher, Miss Lane, tries to encourage her personal growth, the rest of the town conspires to keep her in her place as a second-class citizen, and her presumed real father returns to town to complicate things.

    I watched this mainly to see Shirley Temple as an adult rather than a tyke and Lois Maxwell play something other than Miss Moneypenny. Temple is surprisingly pretty and her acting is at least as good as everyone else's in the picture. I found the romantic turnarounds a bit confusing, though -- young Ken turns into a spineless mama's boy, Miss Lane and Tom Bates decide they are just "good friends", and Bates (who for most of the movie is suspected to be Mary's father) is now in love with her! That was a little creepy and not terribly convincing. It's not a movie I would recommend exactly, but it was certainly watchable and of archival interest, if nothing else.
  • Why wouldn't the moviegoing public accept Shirley Temple as a grown-up after being a child star? As a 19-year-old in this film she is as beautiful as she was cute as a child; and if she hadn't yet proved herself to be a great actress, her more mature screen persona beats her insufferably cute act as a child any day as far as this viewer is concerned.

    Actually this movie's bad reputation is not hard to understand. Amazingly, Ms. Temple plays a high school student widely believed by the residents of her small town to be (gasp) illegitimate! to use an unfortunate term. Although she's as clean-cut and moral a young woman as you'll ever see, the small-minded townspeople think the worst of her in any slightly suspicious situation. Even though the movie is rather light-heated in tone, and never uses words like "illegitimate" or "pregnant," it's obvious the American public could not accept Temple in such a role.

    The few dark moments that intrude into this overall lightweight movie don't mesh very well, and the film is really a rather prosaic soap opera, but it does hold some interest for latter-day viewers because of its stars. Ronald Reagan plays the man assumed to be Temple's father. It's become a cliche of Reagan's political opponents to say he's a bad actor, but the truth is he doesn't show much range in this film and it doesn't appear to be the kind of role he's suited for. Still, I find the older Shirley Temple interesting to watch and for this reason I'd recommend it to any of her fans, or movie fans in general.
  • That Hagen Girl is a curious film. It stars Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan, along with a supporting cast of other well-known actors.

    It's uncomfortable and odd viewing. In the film, Tom Bates, the male lead, is suspected by the entire village - and Janie herself - of being her true father (though he's not). He meets her as a young woman, when she is aged about seventeen and he is approximately twice that. He tries to help her, encouraged by a local teacher. The townfolk get meaner and meaner, because they view Janie as being "of bad stock" because she's believed to be illegitimate and adopted. Then suddenly right at the end Tom has proposed and they're getting married. There's no build up, there is no relationship progression. It's not apparent that he has ever had romantic feelings for her, let alone her for him. So it's rushed and jarring and odd.

    Ronald Reagan apparently viewed the age gap as problematic, and wanted to change the ending. This left me wondering whether - rather like Girls' Dormitory (1936) - they changed the ending of the original story. In the play Girls' Dormitory is based on, the headmaster ends up marrying a teacher colleague of a similar age who has loved him for years. In the film, Herbert Marshall ends up proposing to Simone Simon, his teenage student, leaving his poor colleague with a broken heart.

    I was so curious that I managed to source a copy (they are rare and it was expensive). As it turns out, for the most part - and particularly the start - the movie is quite faithful to the book. Both conjure up a similarly convincing atmosphere of poisonous small minds in a small town. The ending is also the same, in that Tom Bates does end up with Janie, not with the teacher of similar age who loves him.

    However the book shows Tom Bates' romantic interest in Janie clearly developing from early on, and to a lesser extent, hers in him. This isn't entirely satisfactory on his side because she is in love with and engaged to someone else, Tom leaves, then Janie is jilted, and eventually she starts seeing someone else whom she doesn't really care for. Then at the eleventh hour, Tom returns and suddenly they're both going off into the sunset. The book feels rushed as well, though not nearly so much as the film does.

    Ultimately, the conundrum remains unresolved. My speculation is that scenes between Temple and Reagan were cut - either from the script, or in editing - because they just weren't deemed palatable. Temple had been a child star, after all. It's one thing for her to evolve to "grown up" roles, like other child stars (Hayley Mills managed this smoothly). It's another to cast her alongside a much older man, in a story with deliberate and pervasive nuances of incest.

    I would definitely recommend seeing this movie, as it has many points of quality and interest. Just don't expect a conventional story, or a satisfying (or realistic) ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have mixed feelings about this film, but it is worth watching.

    The drama opens with a good sense of mystery and coincidences, but ultimately focuses on gossip in a small town as it focuses in on Mary Hagen (Shirley Temple). The town believes she is the illegitimate daughter of lawyer Tom Bates (Ronald Reagan), which it turns out she is not. Whether its being dumped from the school play, as Juliet (as in Romeo And Juliet) or being snubbed by the mother of the boy she is in love with (Rory Calhoun), it's just one issue after another in terms of being treated badly. She is often treated badly. Reagan becomes her older friend, as does her favorite teacher (Lois Maxwell).

    For its time, this film tackled some delicate subjects -- there's the supposed illegitimacy, suicide comes up twice, and in a surprise at the end, Reagan and Temple head off on the train, obviously planning to get married, even though he's old enough to be her father (even though he's not actually her father...although the town never appears to learn this! It's these daring topics (at least for 1947) that make this film worth watching.

    Ronald Reagan is fine here, although one can see why this film sort of disappeared during his presidency. Reportedly, it was his least favorite film. Rory Calhoun is somewhat wooden, though he gets the job done. Let's face it, he wasn't a very broad actor. Lois Maxwell deservedly won a Golden Globe for her performance as the favored teacher. And worth mentioning -- although his role here is small -- is the venerable Harry Davenport (as Reagan's guardian) who dies early on in the film (although he made nearly a dozen films in the next couple of years, he was already 81 years old when he made this, and he died less than 3 years later).

    A critic in the New York Times wrote that this film was "amateurish", and I guess I'd have to agree. Particularly in regard to the way it depicted high school-about to be college students, and a gross exaggeration of just how gossipy and vengeful a small town can be. I grew up in a small town in the 1950s, and while gossip could be rife, it paled in comparison to what is depicted in this film. It's just over the top here.

    Nevertheless, I found the film interesting to watch due to tackling tough topics and watching an older Temple and an uncomfortable Reagan. Almost certainly not one for you DVD shelf, but still worth watching at least once.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Strange film about small-town, dumped-upon Shirley Temple, who has all sorts of problems...then she hears rumors that she's the illegitimate daughter of Ronald Reagan! Lots of folks like to bash this movie, but it has a fairly typical melodramatic plot for the mid-1940s, and who could possibly have known that the male lead would be president in about 35 years? Bizarre ending, in which Reagan dives head-first into a shallow pond to rescue the suicidal Temple, explains that he's not really her father (in a flashback sequence), then runs off with her! Really odd casting, not the trite plot, is the real reason this movie isn't more successful. It's not nearly as bad as a lot of people say...though it's not really very good, either.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    After all these years, I was finally able to catch this flick on TCM. Certainly, I had read the scathing reviews, and heard about the possibly creepy conclusion. Overall, the film comes across as a standard, well-made Warners B-movie - great production values, stereotypical supporting performances and adequate leading actors. The presence of Reagan and Temple are really all this film has going for it - a casting curiosity. The story is a tad risqué for 1947, but the ending is in no way disturbing - it is quite clear that Bates and Hagen are not related. Granted, their romance in the final reel comes out of left field, and I cannot recall any instance of an implied physical attraction between the two. No, it doesn't deserve a ranking in any "worst" catch-all, but neither is it a "good" movie. Worth a viewing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had a friend who was like Mary Hagan. He was raised by his Grandmother after his parents died. His father killed his mother in a restaurant where she was a waitress and then killed himself. I was told this when we met in sixth grade and sworn to secrecy so as not to hurt my friend. On the day we graduated high school his brother told him the truth, that his parents really did not die in a car wreck. From this point on his life was changed, and not for the better. He degenerated in mind and spirit, and sometimes he told me that he wondered if he was destined to do the same thing that his father had done. He made suicide attempts and stumbled through life and lost his way, becoming angry, and bitter. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if his brother had not told him, if he had just left it alone. Would it have turned out differently for him? Would he have seen himself in a better light and his life taken a better path? Watch this movie and think about how you may have bought into a falsehood about someone, perhaps even whispered it yourself to others and then found out in the end it was not true. Think about the damage you can do to another soul with idle gossip that has no basis in fact. It is said that if you repeat a lie often enough it soon gets accepted as truth. While times have changed, human nature has not. Think before you speak, be open to your fellow human beings and open to the thought that your preconceived notions could be radically wrong.
  • moonspinner553 August 2001
    Years ago I owned a book called "The Fifty Worst Movies" by dreaded film critic Michael Medved (you know the guy, he plugs his ears when he hears a naughty word). This Warner Bros. melodrama was one of his 50 worst; seeing it today, I'm amazed Medved hated it so much (he probably longs for something refined like this now after viewing today's new-jack street dramas). It's a fairly ridiculous soaper concerning adorable teenager Shirley Temple who is--gasp!--adopted. Worse, she has (sort of) acquired a crush on a much-older man who, gossips say, is her biological father! Campy adaptation of Edith Roberts' book is full of howlers and mediocre acting. Shirl and Ronald Reagan try very hard to sell the material, but the ending seems to come out of nowhere. Still, I had fun watching the dumb thing and imagining what audiences in 1947 tried to make of it. ** from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Because Michael Medved decide to give That Hagen Girl a place in his book The Fifty Worst Films Of All Time when one decides to watch it one doesn't expect much. And one is definitely not disappointed.

    In the Citadel Film Series book on The Films Of Ronald Reagan, the 40th president wasn't crazy about this film either. But he was kind of hammerlocked into doing it because he had turned down a few films already and Jack Warner was getting kind of testy about it. So Reagan did it.

    Even so he protested to no avail the absolutely insane ending where Reagan of whom it was whispered that he was Shirley Temple's father in the end runs out of the town where she's lived with that gossip all of her young life. How that one got by the Code one can only speculate.

    Two unrelated incidents that happen to take place on the same day get connected by gossip which starts when Moroni Olsen brings home his daughter Barbara Brown and then walls himself into his house and lives like a hermit. On the same day Charles Kemper meets his wife who had gone away to her sister's and brings home a baby girl. Someone starts a rumor connecting the two events and it is thought that Ronald Reagan who was seeing Brown must be the baby's father and that Olsen gave her to Kemper and his wife Dorothy Peterson. On the advice of Judge Harry Davenport who is Reagan's friend and guardian, Reagan leaves town.

    But as the girl who grows up to be Shirley Temple is ready to graduate high school the rumors get a second wind as Reagan comes back to town, now a very successful lawyer and as it turns out, a war hero. He gets a little something something going with Lois Maxwell a new school teacher in town and Shirley kind of likes young Rory Calhoun who also goes to that school. Calhoun definitely looked way too old for high school and Shirley was kind of pushing it herself.

    The film didn't do anything for the careers of Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple or anyone else connected with it. Maybe it isn't one of the Fifty Worst films of all time, but it sure gets an honorable mention.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "That Hagan Girl" is a strange film. During much of the film, locals all assume that Ronald Reagan was the father of an illegitimate teen (Shirley Temple). However, out of the blue, near the end of the film, the two run off together and are married! If it weren't for the VERY unsettling ending (in which older Reagan inexplicably runs off with pubescent Shirley Temple), this would have been a much better film. But the icky ending--who thought THAT would be entertaining to anyone but a pedophile?! This was just what everybody wanted(?)--America's sweetheart (who STILL looked about 15) running away with a man about age 40. Who was the brainless imbecile who ordered this? So, why am I giving the film a 5? Two reasons: there were certainly many worse films from the 1940s (this one isn't even close to being BAD in that sense) and because I think it was unfairly placed in the book The 50 Worst Movies. I love the book, but feel that this movie just didn't sink to the level of awfulness needed to merit inclusion.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Let's see. The name of the small town is Jordan. The elderly Hagen family return to Fremont Street from Chicago carrying a baby they claim to have had. The problem is that the little girl doesn't look anything like either of the "parents" because she's black. Just kidding. She has the wrong color hair or something. So the gossips go to work. The director shows a certain sense of irony by cutting from a handful of whispering elderly ladies to a pen full of clucking chickens. The rumor is that the father is young Ronald Reagan and the mother was his girl friend, who passed on to her reward in Purgatory. A fed-up Reagan leaves town and spends the war years building the atomic bomb.

    When he returns to Jordan, the baby has grown into Shirley Temple, a student at the local community college. When Reagan is told that she's suspected of being his daughter, he takes an interest in her, offering to pay her way through the university and commenting on her social life. Meanwhile, Reagan has met the elegant Lois Maxwell. She loves Ron but advises him to see more of Temple because he's so obviously in love with her. There is the frisson of incest, which is kind of nice.

    It gets practically labyrinthine, as soap operas tend to do. Rory Calhoun, all black eyebrows, black hair, black pupils, and snow white principles is in love with Mary Hagen and proposes to her, but she thinks he's really interested in the hoity-toity blond Christine Delaney but he's actually not. It's just that Delaney is from the upper class, like Calhoun's family and -- well, if it were set in 1812 it would be a Russian novel.

    Shirley Temple is surprisingly cute but can't handle a dramatic role. She sounds as cute as she looks. She was better in light-hearted roles, like the ones in "The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer." Reagan is professional. The dialog has a couple of fancy turns of phrase but the story itself is buried in sentiment and frustration. Twice, someone is going to spill the beans about what really happened seventeen years ago. The first time, it's Temple's dying mother. "There's something I want to tell you --", and she dies. The second time, Reagan says, "Look, there's something you ought to know --", and he's interrupted by Lois Maxwell with a tray of tea.

    Some viewers found it more interesting than I did.
  • The premise of this movie, in the 40s, might have been worth exploring but the pairing of teenage Shirley Temple and 40ish Ronald Reagan-who said many times he wished this was a role he had never touched-is just too bizarre, especially considering the circumstances in which they were thrown together. I've seen a few top 10 worst lists that this movie is on, and it really is pretty bad. Shirley fans might enjoy her grownup and gorgeous, though.
  • I'm not as critical of the ending as everyone else here. I figure Ronnie's character was around 42 by the final scene, she 38. That's if she did spend 4 years at university between the last 2 scenes, as suggested during the film. Otherwise, he's about 38 and she 18. It's a little confusing at the end, as the 2 townies at the end talk and one says "What'll we talk about now?". With Shirley's dad saying 'take care of my girl. She's all I got left', Ronnie wearing a dark pinstripe suit for his train ride out of town and she with her bobbin-lace collar over her travel suit, Ronnie's big grin while waving goodbye as the train pulls out- it has all the look of the beginning of their honeymoon to me. That seems more than enough for that town to talk about all the way to their graves! Scandalous, eh?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In a small Ohio town, randy lawyer Ronald Reagan (as Tom Bates) is rumored to be the father in a child-producing scandal. Eighteen years later, the child has grown into perky student Shirley Temple (as Mary Hagen). "That Hagen Girl" doesn't know about her shadowy past, but intuitively feels the taint. When Mr. Reagan returns to town, both he and Temple hear the father/daughter story (which everyone else in the cast knows). Reagan dismisses the story as malicious gossip, while courting Temple's teacher, Lois Maxwell (as Julia Kane).

    Meanwhile, Temple scores with athletic Rory Calhoun (as Ken Freneau). After Calhoun spontaneously weds Penny Edwards (as Christine Delaney), Temple gets expelled after a wild night out with fun-loving Conrad Janis (as Dewey Koons), who called Temple and Calhoun "The gruesome twosome of 1947." Reagan, who was impressed with Temple's performance as "Juliet" in her school play, offers to pay for her University education. Temple takes it as fatherly interest; but, Ronald Reagan is falling in love with young Shirley Temple…

    This is a very strange film. The now not-so-shocking "romance" between the older Reagan and younger Temple is overshadowed by their timelessly unconvincing and unappealing performances - at no time do they ever seem like they are falling in love. The supporting players, several in early appearances, are a few notches better. Certainly, young Janis realizes the full potential of his ("Dewey Koons") role - something this adept and entertaining actor would do for decades to come.

    ** That Hagen Girl (10/24/47) Peter Godfrey ~ Shirley Temple, Ronald Reagan, Conrad Janis
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . before marrying dear old Dad. Structured something like a Greek tragedy, complete with a clucking chickens-style chorus (which would become even more literal a few years later in THE MUSIC MAN), THE LITTLE PRINCESS herself tackles the role of "Juliet" in THAT HAGEN GIRL's brief snippets from its play-within-a-movie. BRIGHT EYES always was discovering fathers in the weirdest ways during her child star heyday, but finding a husband in her supposed "Dad" as THAT HAGEN GIRL may put a capital "Y" in "Yuck Factor" (as in, "Tom, aren't you my Daddy?" "Heck no!" "Great! Now we can get married!"). However, we've always been pretty open around here, and Shirley Temple's "trashy" Mary Hagen character would fit right in now. The majority of our babies are NOT born to wedded parents (opposite sexed, or otherwise), and many of the marriages that DO occur are between blood relations of some sort. Most states are similar to ours, but maybe "Mary Hagen's" Ohio is an exception, then and now. Personally, I was thinking all along that Mary's drama teacher was grooming Mary for a career in Shakespeare, so it came as a real shock to suddenly learn that this mentor was setting her up to become the first female Oedipus Rex. It is too bad THAT HAGEN GIRL was a rare exception to Shirley Temple's usual type-casting as a "goodie two-shoes." She could have fit right in with the stock company of Baltimore film director John Waters (PINK FLAMINGOS) if only she'd stuck around in the movie business long enough.
  • Yarn-22 September 1999
    This has to be the hardest Shirley Temple movie to find. Before Ronald Reagan was president, it was shown at least once a year on PBS channels, but I haven't seen it since then. It is a very odd movie and the combination of Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan romantically is oddest of all. I collect Shirley Temple movies and memorabilia and haven't found this one anywhere.
  • I distinctly remember pointing this film out to people back in the 70's as a facetious example of why Reagan (we all pronounced it "Ree-gan" in those days) would never get to the White House. It was all those mysterious excursions he made to Washington in this lame story, leaving a tearful Shirley Temple with her lower lip trembling in distress. The man was just too wrapped up in himself without any obvious rational explanation. His alternating mock seriousness and mock good humor, Janus-like, just wasn't convincing.

    How puzzling it is to reflect on history as life imitating art -- all those things that actually happened for no apparent reason. Will we ever know what he was doing on all those trips to Washington? Or is it enough to see Shirley Temple's smiling face as the credits begin to roll?
  • This unremarkable film got a lot of notoriety in the 1970s when it was included in the book "The Fifty Worst Films of All Time". The film isn't good but it's nowhere near one of the worst films ever made! Mary Hagen (Shirley Temple) is believed to be the illegitimate child of Tom Bates (Ronald Reagan!). He left town when she was a baby and Mary was adopted by the Hagens--a kindly elderly couple. He returns when she's 18 and in high school. The rumors start up again and the town starts to do everything to make Mary feel like it's her fault that she's illegitimate.

    This easily has some bizarre casting. Temple maybe being the illegitimate kid of Reagan is pretty silly but then we have Lois Maxwell as a kind teacher and Rory Calhoun playing her boyfriend! Casting aside this film is obvious and pretty silly by today's standards. The script is dreadful--full of bad dialogue and incredibly clichéd situations. A deathbed confession actually had me laughing out loud! Still, it is a somewhat interesting view of how small towns (and minds) treated illegitimate kids back in the 1940s.

    The acting is pretty bad by the leads--Reagan seems unsure of what he's doing and seeing Temple trying to act--well it's not pretty! Maxwell and Calhoun easily give the best performances. This was well made on a small budget and was (for its time) a pretty risky subject. Worth seeing for camp value alone. Wait'll you see Temple playing Juliet in the school play! Most puzzling line: "Why don't you go away and catch yourself you foul ball!" (???????????)
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