A mysterious woman claiming to be the deceased daughter of a rich man tries to solve the problems of his untrusting son and supposedly mentally handicaped daughter. But one question stands in her way: is she really Caroline?
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Steven Hilliard Stern
Lynn Schaffer is willfully irresponsible once too often, gets fired and refuses a plea-bargain with her employer. She's now convicted and because of this uncooperative attitude gets the ... See full summary »
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Set in the 1950's, a woman (Zimbalist) appears 14 years after supposedly dying in a plane crash. She claims she never boarded the plane and simply used the crash as a means to escape her debutante life. Now she is ready to rejoin the rest of the family, except everyone is skeptical particularly as she has shown up just in time to inherit a fortune from a recently deceased grandmother (Dorothy McGuire shown in flashbacks). Contains nothing that would be offensive to anyone, but is probably too adult in theme for small children. Written by
John Sacksteder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I thought the above commentary was unduly harsh. To be fair I have the book in my more recent memory, but I remember the story dealing with a very complex set of ideas in a way that children could understand. [Granting the the movie was only billed as being family friendly, while the book was expressly aimed for young adults.] It wasn't supposed to be a surprise whether or not this woman was really their older half sister. The important thing was the realization that it really did not matter. A strange woman comes to a wounded family and presents herself as a part of it. She then proceeds to fix many of the problems that plague it- she literally saves the children. The boy is rescued from isolation and the girl from a life somewhere between a pet and an embarrassment.
There are some things I might be filling in from the book, but I don't remember finding the movie lacking. I was even motivated to keep an eye out for Father's Archane Daughter to read it. Some minor changes or things left unsaid were inevitable- Caroline disappearing in a plane crash instead of a kidnapping, the younger children's mother's emotional distance, the full role of of Caroline's old headmistress- etc. The only thing I can think of that was wholely snipped was the interesting relationship between the father and Caroline. They probably thought they could not do it justice so they thought it better to leave it out. Plenty of movies have suffered from the unwillingness to make that sort of decision.
On the whole I recommend the movie, and I truly recommend the book (along with everything else if E. L Konigsberg I have gotten around to reading- I think she just collects Newberys)
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