Classic Shirley Temple film promotes positivity.
  • Review Date: March 12, 2012
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1937
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This film is intended to entertain, not educate, though kids might learn a little about times past and classic cinema.

Positive messages

The movie promotes the idea that it's best to be kind and cheerful and those around you will be inspired to act that way as well. Also that the bonds of love and family can help people overcome their problems.

Positive role models

Through a mix of good humor, charming behavior, and a positive attitude, Heidi inspires and delights those around her, inspiring her grandfather in particular to give up his taciturn ways.

Violence & scariness

In one scene, comic pratfalls abound as characters slip and slide on a floor. Early in the film, the grandfather pulls out a large knife and looks menacing towards Heidi, but merely turns and uses the knife to cut his bread.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Both the grandfather and the chief of police are seen smoking pipes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this charming Shirley Temple classic should provide wholesome and exciting entertainment across generations. There are very few issues of concern, expect for some stern and briefly menacing behavior toward the child, but the messages of positivity will shine through. Besides the entertainment value, parents and children can discuss how Shirley Temple was one of the first child stars of the silver screen, and how she compares to today's kid celebs.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Little Heidi (Shirley Temple) is left by her selfish Aunt Dete with her grandfather, a taciturn hermit. Through her plucky charm and positive attitudes, Heidi inspires her grandfather to be nicer and to reach out to the outside world again. But when Aunt Dete steals Heidi back to Frankfurt and leaves her with the stern and vicious Fraulein Rottenmeier, Heidi's grandfather leaves his isolated home to find her and take her back.

Is it any good?


While it might be arguable whether children will find HEIDI as entertaining as their parents and grandparents, what is inarguable is the period charm of this 1930's classic. Shirley Temple effortlessly steals every scene she's in (although Arthur Treacher, as the archetypal British butler, certainly comes close), and between the moments of slapstick comedy and cutesy-kid acting, there is also plenty of action in the form of sleigh chases and Grandfather's indomitable yearning to rescue Heidi from the aptly-named Rottenmeier.

It is very much a product of its time, but its entertainment value continues to span generations.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how child actors portrayed characters in the 1930s as compared to now. What are the similarities? The differences? If this film were to be remade today, who do you think would play Heidi, and how would the movie be different?

  • Even though the film is set in Europe and the characters are supposed to be European, many of the characters have American accents. Does this matter? Why or why not?

  • What are the many ways this film, made over 70 years ago, reflects the era in which it was made?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 15, 1937
DVD release date:August 30, 2005
Cast:Arthur Treacher, Jean Hersholt, Shirley Temple
Director:Allan Dwan
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5 year old Written byYogaMommy May 10, 2014

Too scary and not true to the book

Even in 1937, Hollywood couldn't resist the urge to sensationalize an otherwise endearing story. In this movie version, Heidi is kidnapped twice, her grandfather runs frantically through the city streets looking for her, her grandfather is jailed, and the aunt tries to sell her to the gypsies (presumably for the sex trade). None of this happens in the book! Our 5 year old daughter was very upset and couldn't watch the parts where Heidi was kidnapped.
Parent of a 3 year old Written byJoodee December 5, 2012

Not for youngest children.

My advice is to follow the recommended age for this movie. My sensitive 3 1/2 year old daughter enjoyed it until Heidi was kidnapped from her grandfather. There were many scenes of Heidi pleading to be returned and my daughter was really upset.


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