DVD Review: Heidi
Release Date: August 30, 2005
Distributor: Fox Home Entertainment
· Shirley Temple
· Jean Hersholt
· Arthur Treacher
by R.J. Carter
Published: October 4, 2005
Beauty may fade, but cuteness is eternal... if you can capture it on film.
Shirley Temple brings to life Johanna Spyri's spirited protagonist in this enduring family classic. An orphan girl abandoned with her temperamental grandfather (Jean Hersholt) by her Aunt Deedee, Heidi soon begins warming the heart of the old man. But the townspeople, aware of old Adolph Kramer's history, worry that the child hasn't been left in the best care. But as they see the magic Heidi works in Adolph's life, they begin once again to accept him into their community.
All that changes, however, when Heidi's aunt returns to spirit the child away, taking her to the home of her employer, Herr Sesseman (Sidney Blackmor), whose daughter Clara remains wheelchair-bound. Heidi is to be Clara's new playmate, it has been decided. But Clara's caretaker, Fraulein Rottenmeier (Mary Nash), needs to keep Clara in that chair or she'll be without a job, and so quickly finds herself at odds with Heidi when the little girl encourages Clara to begin walking again.
Possibly the finest of Shirley Temple's acting career, balanced with just as much fear and tension as with cuteness and light, Heidi continues to capture the imagination. Also of note is Arthur Treacher's performance as Sesseman's butler, Andrews. (Treacher appeared with Shirley Temple once before, as a butler, in Curly Top.) Mary Nash is the impeccable villain. In fact, the only wooden acted bits are from Hersholt, as Adolph seems to stumbles stiltingly through his lines.
This disc includes the original theatrical trailer (1:22) as well as a choice of colorized or restored black and white. The menu artwork is rather crude, with block-pixel images of different toys serving as selection pointers. Marketed in a baby pink snap-tite case, Heidi comes packaged with a charm bracelet of a pair of wooden shoes, a token of the "In Our Little Wooden Shoes" song performed in the movie.