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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Heidi (1968)

A young orphan girl (Jennifer Edwards, Blake's daughter) is left in the care, against his will, of her anti-social grandfather (Michael Redgrave) in the Swiss Alps. Slowly, she melts away his gruffness and he accepts her. But then an uncle (Maximilian Schell) takes her away to act as a companion to his crippled daughter (Zuleika Robson), leaving the grandfather heartbroken. There have been around twenty film and television adaptations of the classic Johanna Spyri 1880 children's book to date including the 1937 version with Shirley Temple. It's one of those storylines that would seem to be foolproof and one would have to work awfully hard to bungle it. This version is decent though it burdens the narrative with an unrequited romance between Schell and his daughter's governess (Jean Simmons) which is not in the Spyri novel which overtakes a good portion of the story. The wide eyed 11 year old Edwards seems so perfect as Heidi that whether she can act seems irrelevant. The film is boosted by Klaus von Rautenfeld lensing of the idyllic Alps location. Directed by Delbert Mann (MARTY). The Emmy winning score is by John Williams. With Walter Slezak, Peter Van Eyck, John Moulder Brown and Elisabeth Neumann.

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