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HEIDI(director: Allan Dwan; screenwriters: from the novel by Johanna Spyri/Walter Ferris/Julien Josephson; cinematographer: Arthur Miller; editor: Allen McNeil; music: David Buttolph/Charles Maxwell/Ernst Toch; cast: Shirley Temple (Heidi), Jean Hersholt (Adolph Kramer), Arthur Treacher (Andrews, the Butler), Helen Westley (Blind Anna), Thomas Beck (Pastor Schultz), Mary Nash (Fräulein Rottenmeier), Sidney Blackmer (Herr Sesemann), Mady Christians (Aunt Dete), Marcia Mae Jones (Klara Sesemann), Pauline Moore (Fräulein Elsa), Delmar Watson (Peter, the Goat General); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Darryl F. Zanuck; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1937)
“Under Dwan’s capable hands, this so-so children’s story classic by Johanna Spyri comes out much better than expected.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Noted veteran studio action director Allan Dwan (“Suez”/”Robin Hood”/”The Iron Mask”) teams up with child star Shirley Temple in this warm-hearted appealing tearjerker children’s story. Under Dwan’s capable hands, this so-so children’s story classic by Johanna Spyri comes out much better than expected. It’s written by Walter Ferris and Julien Josephson.

Heidi (Shirley Temple) is an 8-year-old orphan living the last six years with her sourpuss Aunt Dete (Mady Christians). The aunt uses as an excuse that she found housekeeping work in Frankfurt to dump Heidi on her reclusive Swiss Alps residing misanthropic elderly grandfather Adolph Kramer (Jean Hersholt). Gramps stopped talking to the villagers of Dorfli when they sided with his son, Heidi’s father, when the boy married someone his father disapproved and then threw his son out. Soon the cheerful Heidi melts her crusty embittered grandfather’s heart and the two become inseparable, but the avaricious Aunt Dete returns and steals Heidi away to sell her into servitude in Frankfurt. Heidi ends up working at the home of a wealthy businessman, Herr Sesemann (Sidney Blackmer), who is hardly ever home. When Heidi befriends Sesemann’s crippled daughter Klara (Marcia Mae Jones) and teaches her to walk, he fires the evil housekeeper Fraulein Rottenmeier (Mary Nash) who kept Klara a crippled so that she can possibly marry her widowed boss because of her value to his daughter. Meanwhile gramps walks on foot to Frankfurt and rescues Heidi from being sold to gypsies by Fraulein Rottenmeier.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”