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Film / Little Orphan Annie

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It's a hard-knock life for Annie and her toddler friend Mickey. Except she doesn't burst into a cacophonous "Tomorrow".

Whenever people think of Annie, they think of either the 1977 musical, the 1982 film adaptation or the oft-criticised 2014 modern-day reboot. And then there's this obscure-yet-seminal 1932 Pre-Code comedy-drama based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strips, directed by John S. Robertson, written by Wanda Tuchock and Tom McNamara and released by RKO Pictures.

Daddy Warbucks (Edgar Kennedy) falls victim to The Great Depression, and is forced to abandon his adopted daughter Annie (Mitzi Green) so he could mine for gold and eventually reclaim his fortune. Meanwhile, Annie takes in a ward of her own — an orphan toddler named Michael (Buster Phelps).


Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Think twice before you dare mess with Annie or her friends. And she means it.
  • Adjective Noun Fred
  • Broke Episode: Warbucks and Annie lost their fortunes in the 1929 stock market crash, and Daddy is forced to abandon the girl for the time being while he finds his luck at a gold mine.
  • Catchphrase: "Leapin' lizards!"
  • Disappeared Dad: Daddy Warbucks.
  • Street Urchin: Annie and Mickey. Though given Annie's upbringing, this is more or less a walk in the park for her.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Warbucks dons a Santa Claus costume as he hands over gifts to needy children. Annie sees through this, though, and they were then reunited by the end of the film.
  • The Great Depression: Complete with Warbucks himself riding the rails. Which is Truth in Television considering how a number of wealthy people of the era were reduced to selling fruit or hitchhiking freight trains.
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  • Ur-Example: This marked Annie's first feature film appearance, until the film adaptations of the musical overshadowed it to obscurity.