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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main character is a sassy foster kid who vandalizes, shoplifts, and runs wild. She even participates in a con, lying to and manipulating the kind Lady St. Edmund. But ultimately, she turns around, and kids will get the happy ending they are hoping for.
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What's the story?
Casey Brown (Jodie Foster) comes from skid row, a place where her foster parents care more about an envelope of money than about her welfare. When she is traded off to a couple of thugs, her life changes for good. Soon she meets a slippery con man named Harry Bundage (Leo McKern) who cuts a deal with her that goes like this: she poses as the long-lost granddaughter of a countess (played by Helen Hayes), all the while looking for a treasure that the countess's forefather buried on the estate called Candleshoe. Casey agrees -- for a price -- and is swept off to England to take her role in the deal. While at Candleshoe, she is greeted by the versatile butler/gardener/driver, Priory (David Niven) who is doing what he can to keep the estate afloat. But Casey finds she is not alone -- Lady St. Edmund has taken in a handful of local orphans. And after finding clues to the treasure, Casey begins to see the value of being part of a real family.
Is it any good?
The acting alone makes this movie worth a look. Jodie Foster shows her prowess as a teenage girl fresh from the streets of L.A.. She does not waver when pressed by more seasoned con artists than herself, and she sure knows how to take care of herself when she's challenged by other kids. But the actor who steals the show is David Niven, as the chameleon-like butler who saves Candleshoe from ruin. Helen Hayes plays the gentle, yet relatable grand dame, creating a nice foil to Jodie Foster's tough American kid.
The plot is catchy and active, and the emotions are real. Plus, finding a treasure is always fun. The whole family should enjoy this fun film, even if it seems a bit dated.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Casey refuses to touch or hold Lady St. Edmund's hand. What is she afraid of? What does trust mean in your family? When is it okay to trust people you hardly know? When should you be cautious?
Jodie Foster was a child star and a celebrity at a young age. How does celebrity change a kid? Conversely, how are kids affected by celebrities? Should celebrities be role models?
Casey is a kid who acts out in unproductive ways. Why does she do that? Have you ever been tempted to be destructive? What makes you want to break or vandalize things? How did you feel after you did something destructive? What could have been done differently?
- In theaters: June 1, 1977
- On DVD or streaming: June 1, 2004
- Cast: David Niven, Helen Hayes, Jodie Foster
- Director: Norman Tokar
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- MPAA explanation: General Audiences
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