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 oneâ€™s way too treacly for my tasteâ€”and, Iâ€™d guess, almost anyone elseâ€™s taste in 2006. The plot summary on the sleeve is just plain wrong: Heidiâ€™s separated from her grandfather (Ives) because heâ€™s apparently diedâ€”and her â€œdespicable relativesâ€ 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 â€œten delightful original songs,â€ and â€œdelightfulâ€ 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 heâ€™s a hallucination. The sleeve gets it wrong here too: â€œNow they must frantically avoid being captured and exhibited as scientific curiosities.â€ More like they must escape a ferret set to get rid of the vermin the housekeeper assumes them to be. Didnâ€™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. Iâ€™d give it a higher price but for one bit of cheapness that unfortunately comes in opening scenes: Albertâ€™s scuttling across the living room floor of the mansion to go back under the clock (and under the floorboards, where they live)â€”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 startâ€¦ $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.