Well folks, for my next Christmas review to be featured on “All Good Things” for December’s holiday special, I’m going to review “Heidi” starring the iconic Shirley Temple. Although not primarily classified as a Christmas movie, I consider it to be the perfect film for any occasion, and after all the concluding chapter of the film is set on Christmas Day.
Shirley Temple, with her curly top hair and cute dimpled smile brings Heidi to life in this perennial family classic. Eight year old Heidi is a Swiss orphan who has been residing with her avaricious aunt for six years. When her aunt abruptly decides to give her up she takes her to the mountains to live with her cantankerous mountain-dwelling grandfather Adolph Kramer ( Jean Hersholt ) at his decrepit cottage on the alps. At first Adolph is reticent and unsociable towards Heidi, but eventually he warms up to Heidi and comes to relish his granddaughters amiable aura and her loving and effervescent personality. Heidi adores her grandfather and feels safe and secure with him. On her Birthday, without her grandfathers cognizance, her aunt returns and steals Heidi away and whisks her off to the Sesemann household in Frankfurt so she can be the companion to Klara ( Marcia Mae Jones ) a disabled young girl who is wheelchair bound after being involved in an accident. Adolph is irate over Heidi’s disappearance and once he learns where she has been taken he peregrinates to Frankfurt in the hopes of getting her back. In the meantime, Heidi is immured in the Sesemann home with the improbability of returning to her grandfather. While Klara is elated by Heidi’s presence, Heidi is yearning for her grandfather and is longing to escape her existence in her new home to go back to her grandfathers congenial environment. No matter how melancholy Heidi is, she still manages to find pleasure in everything she does, bringing happiness and delectation to those around her, except for the merciless housekeeper Fraulein Rottenmeier ( Mary Nash ), who insists that Klara has no hope in improving and that she must stay reliant on her. However Heidi holds propitious faith in Klara and strongly feels that she can recover. On Christmas Day with Heidi’s optimism and support a miracle occurs.
Shirley Temple delivers one of her most hellacious performances in this movie, and proves that she is one of the greatest, if not the greatest child star of all time. With a conglomeration of humor, sadness and drama, “Heidi” remains one of the most sentimental and heartwarming classics of all time.
Shirley Temple developed throat problems after she accidentally swallowed fake snow during a winter scene, and the crew had to shoot around her for two days.
The scene in which Heidi is suddenly squirted in the face while milking a goat was planned without Shirley Temple’s knowledge. A tube of milk was attached to the goat udder where Temple couldn’t see it, and when she was squirted, her surprised reaction was genuine.
Marcia Mae Jones received fan mail from disabled children all over the world after playing Klara in this movie.
Heidi: [Church bells chiming] “I like to hear the church bells, don’t you, Grandfather?”
Adolph Kramer, The Grandfather: “Get to bed.”
Heidi: “Shall I say my prayers out here with you?”
Adolph Kramer, The Grandfather: “I told you to go to bed.”
Heidi: “Yes, Grandfather. I think I’ll go to bed now, Grandfather. Good night.”
Heidi: “Shall I get ready to go home now?”
Sesemann: “No. I have another Christmas present for you: a home with us as long as you live.”
Heidi: “No. I couldn’t do that.”
Sesemann: “Why not?”
Heidi: “The Grandfather’s been waiting for me such a long time.”
Klara Sesemann: “Oh, Heidi, I hoped you wouldn’t want to go now.”
Sesemann: “But, don’t you want to stay here with Klara and be her little sister?”
Heidi: “Yes. I’d like to be that but I’ve got to go home.”
Klara Sesemann: “Papa, I told Heidi you’d let her go if she wanted to.”
Sesemann: “But you don’t understand, dear. You’ll be my own daughter. You’ll – You’ll have clothes like Klara’s, everything just like hers, and grow up to be a great lady. Now, wouldn’t you like that?”
Heidi: “No, thank you. I want to go home to my grandfather.”
Sesemann: “I can’t let you do that.”
Heidi: “But Klara promised.”
Klara Sesemann: “I…”
Sesemann: “I’m sorry, Heidi. Someday you’ll understand.”
Klara Sesemann: “Papa, I did promise you’d send her home.”
Sesemann: “But dear, you don’t know what her grandfather’s like. Dete told me that he was a very brutal man feared by everyone. No, Heidi will be much happier here with us.”
Shirley Temple: Born Shirley Temple on April 23rd, 1928 in Santa Monica, California. Died: February 10th, 2014 in Woodside, California. Aged 85.
Jean Hersholt: Born Jean Pierre Hersholt on July 12th, 1886 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Died: June 2nd, 1956 in Hollywood, California. Aged 69.