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That Hagen Girl: The Shirley Temple–Ronald Reagan Movie With The Eww-Factor Ending

 

As child actress Shirley Temple progressed into her teen years, she was no longer reliable as a precocious dancing tot, but the transition to adult film roles is always a rocky path for a child actor. This was as true for Temple as it was for anyone, most notably when the 17-year-old was cast opposite a much older Ronald Reagan in 1947's The Hagen Girl.


That Hagen Girl

That Hagen Girl is the story of the suspicious parents of 17-year-old Mary Hagen, who is considered by small-town busybodies to be the institutional daughter of the city's wealthiest family, Grace, and Tom Bates, a handsome young man who readily leaves town to escape. Leaves for law school. Mary is a high school senior when Tom Bates returns to town and provides fresh fodder for the rumor mill, especially as he takes a father's interest in Mary while wooing his teacher. For the most part of the film, the audience is led to believe that Tom is Mary's father, but in some strangely surprising twist, we learn that he really does love Mary. In the end, the figure of the teenager and her half-father run away.


A Flop With Critics

Overall, critics liked The Hagen Girl. There is clearly no spark between the leads, and audiences and critics alike found the twist quite gross. Maybe Reagan felt the same way. The New York Times noted that Reagan looked like he was doing "the hardest job of his career", and Reagan himself stated that it was his least favorite project, although Temple believed Mary Hagen's Her portrayal was her best post-puberty performance. Nevertheless, one critic wrote that he wished Temple's character to succeed in his suicide attempt, and nearly all prints of the film mysteriously disappeared as Reagan's political star began to rise, leaving only his post. To re-emerge long after leaving.

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