50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 13

The New Adventures of Heidi, 1978, color, Ralph Senensky (dir.), Burl Ives, Katy Kurtzman, John Gavin, Marlyn Mason, Sherrie Wills. 1:38.

I like family pictures, at least some of them, but this one’s way too treacly for my taste—and, I’d guess, almost anyone else’s taste in 2006. The plot summary on the sleeve is just plain wrong: Heidi’s separated from her grandfather (Ives) because he’s apparently died—and her “despicable relatives” turn her over to a wealthy-but-busy widowed hotelier (Gavin) whose troubled daughter is a boon companion. They go to New York, and naturally goodness triumphs over all. The sleeve also mentions “ten delightful original songs,” and “delightful” is not the word I would use for the pallid ballads. Ives used to be a fine singer; not on this flick. $0.75, charitably.

The Borrowers, 1973, color, Walter C. Miller (dir.), Eddie Albert, Tammy Grimes, Dame Judith Anderson, Karen Pearson. 1:21.

The first of three TV movie (and one movie) versions of the Mary Norton novel about the borrowers, or rather one family of borrowers: Little people (about six inches high) who borrow space and possessions from the humans in the house. In this case, the house is a mansion and the lady of the house is a lively, bedridden, tippling Dame Judith Anderson, who enjoys chatting with the father of the borrowers (Albert) but assumes he’s a hallucination. The sleeve gets it wrong here too: “Now they must frantically avoid being captured and exhibited as scientific curiosities.” More like they must escape a ferret set to get rid of the vermin the housekeeper assumes them to be. Didn’t anyone at Treeline (now Mill Creek) ever watch these things? I know: Not bloody likely. Anyway, a first-rate cast, well acted, not treacly. I’d give it a higher price but for one bit of cheapness that unfortunately comes in opening scenes: Albert’s scuttling across the living room floor of the mansion to go back under the clock (and under the floorboards, where they live)—but he casts no shadow even when standing next to a heavily-shadow-casting door. Green screen is one thing, but doing it that baldly and badly right at the start… $1, for that and for some damage; otherwise, probably $1.50.

And that’s it for this little box full of TV movies. Next up: fifty “classic” musicals–probably back to mostly black and white, but there appear to be a number of little-known gems here (along with a few repeats from other sets). I’ll provide an overall comment on the TV movie box in the second-half roundup in Cites & Insights, probably the December 2006 issue.

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