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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Heidi (1937)

"You can't keep me here! The Grandfather is waiting and he doesn't know where I am!"
- Heidi (Shirley Temple)

Review By: debi lee mandel   
Published: March 11, 2002

Stars: Shirley Temple, Jean Hersholt, Arthur Treacher, Mary Nash
Other Stars: Marcia Mae Jones, Helen Westley, Sidney Blackmer, Mady Christians, Thomas Beck, Delmar Watson
Director: Allan Dwan 

MPAA Rating: G for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:28m:20s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 024543029717
Genre: family

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-C-C+ D+

DVD Review

Based on the Swiss novel by Johanna Spyri, Heidi is the story of a little girl (Temple), orphaned at age 5 and put upon her disinterested grandfather (Hersholt), a grizzled old mountain goat of a man who lives as a hermit high in the Alps above the hamlet of Dorfli. Over time, indifference gives way to powerful affection and the two become inseparable. Then, as suddenly as the arrangement was thrust upon them, the same Aunt that had dragged Heidi to her grandfather's care now steals her away. To further her own gain, Dete (Christians) puts the young girl into the service of a wealthy household in Frankfurt, where a widower's only daughter is an invalid in need of a companion, rather like a pet ("Please let me keep Heidi!"). Poor little Heidi wants nothing more than to be with her beloved grandfather, but what can a little girl do to control her own destiny and return to the life she has come to love? The film departs from the original story when Heidi arrives in Frankfurt, omitting literary contrivances for good, old-fashioned Hollywood melodrama, culminating on Christmas night, no less. Many of the same characters inhabit the tale, but their histories and actions are altered, I assume to fit the sensibilities of the audience, as the re-write allows for more pouting and other piteous expressions for viewers to respond to. This leads then, of course, to the casting of Shirley Temple, filmdom's littlest sweetheart, in the title role. Heidi would mark her 37th film appearance; by this time, she was a veteran. Girl, could she charm, pout and smile on cue—and does she. For decades after her curls (and her subsequent career as a teen star) flagged, the Little Miss of the silver screen continued to represent the genre of children's entertainment; as late as the 1960s, Shirley Temple was still 9 years old in her public's hearts and minds, even though she turned 40 in 1968.I loved Heidi when I was young and was pleasantly surprised to find it still succeeds as a sweet story, populated by earnest characters who inspire affection, pity, dread and delight. The Grandfather, as played by Jean Hersholt, is both terrifying and endearing, in turn; Arthur Treacher (the "fish and chips" king), who originated the role of P.G. Wodehouse's famous butler, Jeeves, provides comic relief here as Andrews; and Miss Temple's star power is evident in her reliability in front of the camera, even if her acting seems somewhat over-the-top by today's standards. If one is able to put the film's deviation from the novel from one's mind, Heidi can certainly be enjoyed by new audiences for the next sixty-five years.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: While the OAR is 1.37:1, Fox provides two separate transfers at 1.33:1 for this 65-year-old box-office smash, neither of which offers much to commend it. The original black & white version is plagued by edge enhancement that will grow in annoyance with the size of your display; white haloes and ghosting abound, particularly visible in the most highly-contrasted areas. The black levels are so poor, all shadow detail is lost. The only bright side of such a whitewash approach is that it succeeds in obliterating errant dust and scratches—but this is hardly a worthwhile trade-off. The second version is a colorized translation that is simply hideous to behold. There is color onscreen indeed, but it has as much to do with the objects of intent as Woody Allen's re-dub of What's Up, Tiger Lily? The problems of the original monochrome are almost inconsequential when compared with the pallid, funereal palette of the latter. If this does not convince, then compound this hateful tinting process with the digital mess present in the black & white transfer, as the same persist here as well.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is offered in the original mono, as well as a new stereo track. While purists will prefer the former, I warn it is harsh and difficult. Dialogue is somewhat redeemed in the stereo version, which spreads the sound out just enough to soften the tone. Perhaps the best spots to compare are the screeches emitted by the organ grinder's monkey, or the characters' many emotional outbursts. The enhanced audio wins this time.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are individual menu systems for the black & white and colorized versions of the film; as can be imagined, one is grayscaled, while the other is mawkishly tinted.Heidi's unrestored theatrical trailer is included, which fallaciously highlights the fantasy sequence slotted into the story as a gratuitous showcase for Miss Temple's musical talent.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

Heidi is still a children's classic and one of Shirley Temple's most beloved roles. Fox perpetuates the myth of their adorable little moppet's eternal youth for future generations with this release. Watch it with your kids and you will believe she is still that little girl, caught in time forever. The youngest ones won't notice the transfer problems, I promise.


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