Little Lord Fauntleroy Movie Poster Image

Little Lord Fauntleroy

Adaptation of classic novel is a charming fairy tale.
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1936
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Presents a picture of idealized American urban community in the 1880s, its people, dress, customs, transportation, and way of life (Brooklyn, N.Y.), as well as the entirely different traditions of the landed aristocracy in England. The two cultures are shown to come together in a reassuringly congenial manner.

Positive messages
Goodness is contagious: Even the most rigid, withholding individuals can learn to love and be loved. Generosity and empathy are traits to admire; those in positions of power have the ability to change lives and make the world a better place. Helpful benefactors are shown relieving the poverty and stress of the less fortunate.
Positive role models
Ceddie (Lord Fauntleroy) is a loving, generous, smart 9-year-old who loves his family and the people in his world, regardless of their status or means. His thoroughly honest and flawless behavior has a positive effect on everyone with whom he interacts. The boy's gruff, selfish, mean-spirited grandfather learns life's most valuable lessons from Ceddie. No people of color are included; women are in traditional roles.
Violence & scariness
Some young street boys bully Ceddie and goad him into a fight. A rock is thrown, and he's joined by a friend who wrestles alongside him until a policeman breaks it up. A dog growls threateningly once, but is revealed to be a gentle pet.
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1936 black-and-white movie, set in the late 19th century, is a heartwarming fairy tale for kids and families. The very first scene deals briefly with a father's death and its immediate effect upon his wife and young son. There are other emotional moments: when the boy learns that he will be partially separated from his devoted mother, and later when he finds out that his expected inheritance is in doubt. But by the film's happy ending, all is resolved. The simplicity and innocence of this tale are in stark contrast to what 21st century kids expect from their movies, but it is well worth encouraging this nostalgic look back at the story, wonderful characters, and filmmaking techniques in this early classic.


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What's the story?

Cedric (Freddie Bartholomew), who lives in New York with his widowed mother, finds out that he's the grandson of a British earl (C. Aubrey Smith) and is to go to England to live in his castle. After marrying an American, Cedric's father was estranged from the earl, but now that both of the earl's sons have died, Cedric is the only heir. The earl is a rigid and somewhat pompous man, but, encouraged by his mother, Cedric sees everything the earl does as wonderfully generous and kind. The old man is utterly charmed by Cedric, as are all who meet him, and he tries to live up to Cedric's image of him. They grow to love each other. There is a crisis when they're told that the earl's older son was married and had a son of his own before he died -- making that boy the rightful heir. But with the help of Cedric's friend Dick, they all live happily ever after.

Is it any good?


LITTLE LORD FAUNLTEROY is basically a male version of Pollyanna. Like Pollyanna, Cedric goes to live with a wealthy but crusty and snobbish relative, insists on seeing the best in everyone (even when it isn't there), and wins the hearts of all who know him. Not quite as sugary as its reputation, it may still put off kids who think Cedric is too perfect. But his colorful friends, his maturity under stress, and the fun of the idea of his being brought from poverty to an Earldom make it hold up surprisingly well.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether it's really possible to always see the best in everyone. Do you know anyone who's as positive as Cedric? What other movie characters is he like?

  • How do you think this movie might be different if it was remade today?

  • Can you enjoy old black-and-white films as much as contemporary color ones? What are the main differences between how movies used to be made and how they're made now?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 2, 1936
DVD/Streaming release date:September 24, 2002
Cast:Dolores Costello, Freddie Bartholomew, Mickey Rooney
Director:John Cromwell
Studio:United Artists
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byvictorianezine April 9, 2008

Preview of WWII, this quality story (despite poor music) worth your time!

LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY was a major hit in the 1880's. And this quality movie version (by David O Selznick) has lots of great child and adult actors maybe Grandpa and the "old movie" fans will recognize. A kid of today has to get past the rather wimpy music score and the slightly murky black and white shooting...but Freddie Bartholomew was the top male child star (second only to Shirley Temple) partly for this QUALITY performance as poor young Ced Errol, poor Brooklyn boy, who finds out he's heir to a great British title and fortune. Watch for Mickey Rooney in the fight scene. Ced tackles several bullies alone...and Mickey later joins him. (Preview of soon coming World War II - first the Brit handles the "bullies" and then the American joins him!) Sir C. Aubrey Smith is the great, bitter old Lord who has only the unseen (and despised ) American grandson left alive to inherit the great Dorincourt title and estate. (I think one of the old men Muppet characters was copied after him with his great craggy face and heavy brows). Drew Barrymore's grandma (Dolores Costello) plays Cedric's beloved widowed mother. This story is STILL being remade. (I've even heard of a Russian version of LLF!) And let's hope that this GREAT version gets a technical cleanup someday. I've watched it with my young son, who is beginning to appreciate the small but noble Cedric. (Right now I tell him, the young shoe shine boy (Mickey Roney) played one of the old men in NATIONAL TREASURE). This film too takes a little work for a child of today to appreciate,but it is a minor film treasure and is definitely worth your time.
Teen, 17 years old Written byoldpaths April 9, 2008

Good-but there's a better one

I've watched this movie & enjoyed it-but there's a better one out there! If you like the book, watch the Feature Films for Families version-most young kids i know love it!