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The Beloved Brat

(1938 b 63')

En: 5 Ed: 6

A girl, neglected by her rich parents, acts defiantly and causes much trouble.

Roberta Morgan (Bonita Granville) tries to hide a dog she found from her governess Anna; but her mother (Natalie Moorhead) orders the dog sent to the pound. Roberta explains "incorrigible" to Anna by throwing a tray of dishes out the window. Her parents are busy, but her father John Morgan (Donald Crisp) gives her $50 for her birthday. Roberta catches black boy Pinkie (Matthew Beard) in her yard with a gun and asks how to shoot. Roberta goes fishing with Pinkie and throws mud on a bully (Leo Gorcey), who pushes her in the creek. Pinkie takes Roberta to his Mammy, who gives her cake. Roberta takes Pinkie home with her in a taxi. Jenkins (Emmett Vogan) tells Pinkie to get out and refuses to serve him. Roberta objects, but Jenkins throws Pinkie out. Mrs. Morgan tells John and Williams (Donald Briggs) that Jenkins resigned, and John tells his wife to discipline Roberta. Coming in late, Roberta is caught in a lie by her mother, who confines her to her room.

Roberta tries to sneak out, but Jenkins drags her back. Roberta calls the fire department and starts a fire. She climbs down a ladder and runs off, takes a taxi to Pinkie's house; but Jenkins takes her in the car. Roberta struggles, and there is a car accident. In the hospital Roberta tells police that Jenkins was driving fast. Jenkins is convicted of manslaughter and sent to prison. Williams questions Roberta about the accident, and she admits she lied. Jenkins is pardoned, and Judge Harris (Paul Everton) tells John Morgan that he is sending Roberta to a school.

Williams takes Roberta to the girls school and meets Helen Cosgrove (Dolores Costello). Roberta refuses to wear a uniform and is taken to class in her slip. Roberta wears clothes but remains defiant - throwing food, destroying Helen's rose bush, and breaking dishes. Other girls rebel too. Helen asks Roberta to substitute for the French teacher, and she stays up late with Roberta reading, saying girls like her. Roberta reads to younger girls, rooms with Estella, and offers her horses to the school. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan return and come for Roberta, who tells Helen she won't go home. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan hear and let her stay. Mrs. Morgan has a breakdown and calls for Roberta. John tells Roberta that her mother needs her. In the final scene Roberta has a big birthday party with her family and many friends.

This over-looked little gem shows what can happen when wealthy parents are too busy to care for their children. A wise and patient teacher is able to awaken the positive qualities in the smart but lonely girl.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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