Ronald Reagan Appears as Tom Bates in "That Hagen Girl"
That Hagen Girl is an American film released in 1947.
It stars Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan. It was produced by Warner Bros.
The plot revolves around the small town of Jordan and a local teenager named Mary Hagen (Temple), whom gossips believe is an illegitimate daughter of former resident and lawyer Tom Bates (Reagan). She is frequently treated badly due to this rumor. Gossip intensifies when Bates moves back into town and begins a friendship with Hagen's favorite teacher Julia Kane (Lois Maxwell). There are hints that Bates is the real father of Hagen, though it is later revealed that she is an orphan that the Hagen family adopted in Evanston, with no relation to Bates. When the teacher leaves town at the end of her 1-year contract, she suggests to Bates that he stop playing as Hagan's father, as it has become clear that he is in love with her. The movie ends with Bates and Hagen boarding a train, presumably to get married. Mary Hagen's adopted father Jim Hagan asks Bates to take care of Mary. In the final scene, a townsperson asks "Well, what are we gonna talk about now?"
Lois Maxwell earned a Golden Globe Award (Most Promising Newcomer - Female) for her performance in the film.
The movie was included in the popular 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time. The authors of the book report that almost all prints of the film mysteriously disappeared from various film storage facilities and television stations as Ronald Reagan was becoming a prominent political figure. The film resurfaced in the 1990s with showings on Turner Classic Movies. Reagan considered it his least liked role.
In her autobiography, Shirley Temple confirms that Reagan apparently detested his role and that it was a very difficult period in his life. After multiple retakes of a scene in which Reagan's character rescues her from a suicide attempt by jumping into a river during a pelting rainstorm, he collapsed. He was hospitalized in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital with viral pneumonia. Eight days later, Reagan's wife Jane Wyman delivered a baby girl three months prematurely, and the baby died within twenty-four hours.
What won't they do to Shirley Temple? Now, in "That Hagen Girl," a bleak indiscretion of the Warners which came to the Strand yesterday, they have got little Shirley playing an adopted illegitimate child whose life in a small town is made miserable by malicious gossip and snubs. And, to add insult to injury, they have provided her with a script which might have been written—and directed—by a second-rate amateur.What won't they do to Shirley Temple? Now, in "That Hagen Girl," a bleak indiscretion of the Warners which came to the Strand yesterday, they have got little Shirley playing an adopted illegitimate child whose life in a small town is made miserable by malicious gossip and snubs. And, to add insult to injury, they have provided her with a script which might have been written—and directed—by a second-rate amateur.