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Alpha's been raised along scientific principles, and will make Mike Regan a great human interest story for his paper. But when his interview prompts Alpha to run away from the institute and ask him to show her some magic, Mike gets more responsibility than he bargained for. Especially since another story of his, one involving gangsters, has also come home to roost. Written by
A young Margaret O'Brien plays a very peculiar 6 year-old named Alpha. Alpha, it seems is a scientific project being conducted by a psychiatric research facility. In a case of extremely unethical behavior, they adopted her as an infant and spent all of her life cramming her head with knowledge--advanced mathematics, Chinese, economics and many other very advanced topics. Finally, after six years work, the institute is ready to have two outside investigators examine the child to determine their success in raising a "super-child". But, before this child genius can be examined, a reporter (James Craig) meets with her and thoroughly disarms the very adult-like O'Brien. Fascinated by Craig's wild stories about magic, giants and leprechauns (things any normal child would know about, but Alpha doesn't), she is so captivated that she later escapes to find Craig--who she seems to see as a great father figure.
This film is very, very schmaltzy--in other words, it's loaded with sentimentality and dripping with saccharine. And while this usually means you've got a bad film, despite it shamelessly tugging at your heart, the film actually works--mostly thanks to a sweet script and some nice performances. While not perfect (for example her crying seemed rather fake), O'Brien proved that for her age, she was an amazing actress. And Craig and Marsha Hunt (not exactly household names) also showed a nice hand at family comedy.
All in all, this is a wonderful film for most everyone. However, the easily jaded probably will find the going a bit too sticky--but as for this curmudgeon, I still found it charming.
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