Ceddie, Earl of Dorincourt's only grandson and heir, lives in America with his mother. The Earl, getting old, asks them to come to England. Ceddie, now Lord Fauntleroy, is an adorable little fellow. The Earl, who at first was rather distant, becomes more and more fond of him. Then Minna shows up. She claims she was married to the Earl's eldest son and that her son, being their child, is the Earl's true heir.Written by
Willy Vanhaelen <email@example.com>
A well done television adaptation of the classic story.
With a star like Alec Guiness and a screenwriter like Blanche Hanalis (The Waltons) it can't be a typical made for TV movie, and it isn't.
Director Jack Gold manages to stay away from the cloying sentimentality and excessive wordiness of the badly written novel by F H Burnett. The relationship between the young boy (Schroder) who refuses to see the selfishness in his crusty and ill-tempered grandfather (Guiness) and the lonely old man, is developed reasonably well considering the budget and time restraints.
The plot concerns a young, fatherless boy, growing up on Hester Street in the low income district of New York as he rises to wealth and social position by the whim of an old man after his three sons die. Cedric's father, the youngest son, would have been the last to inherit his father's Earldom in rural England. But his unfortunate death when Cedric was very young, means the nine year old will be the next Earl of Dorincourt. His grandfather does not approve of his son's marriage to Cedric's mother, and sends for the boy to live with him, putting the mother up in a cottage on his estate because he fears what others will say if he does not provide for her in some way.
The boy is not told of his grandfather's disaffection for his mother and gradually thru his trust and fondness for his grandfather, the boy transforms the selfish Earl into a kinder, more compassionate person. When the Earl suddenly hears of another claim to the Earldom thru the illegitimate child of his middle son, Beavis, he is shocked and outraged to discover the boy and his mother are ignorant and mercenary.
Shamed by his grandson into doing good deeds, the old Earl realizes that he is not as good a man as he should be and begins to mend his ways.
The story is well told, and from a strictly critical viewpoint may be a bit too sentimental. But compared with the actual novel this film is derived from, the story has been made vastly more enjoyable by the removal of the hundreds of unnecessary adjectives in Burnett's badly written novel. Although the story was brought forward in time a few decades, this does not lessen the impact of the plot, or decrease the enjoyment factor. THe language used by young Cedric sounds a bit stilted in the mouth of Ricky Schroder, but it is the fault of the author and not the director.
I definitely feel this film is well worth viewing, so make some popcorn, call the kids into the living room and sit back and enjoy Alec Guiness, Ricky Schroder, Eric Porter and Patrick Stewart in LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY.
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