A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: April 2, 1936
- On DVD or streaming: 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
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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