Depending on how young your little one is, she’ll either think Shirley Temple as Heidi is the cutest thing she’s ever seen or find this adaptation of Johanna Spyri’s classic book unbearably twee (boys of all ages, no doubt, will be in the latter camp). So cynical older kids should give this a wide berth (and perhaps try the more modern 1990 adaptation, Courage Mountain, instead,) and let little girls sit back and enjoy the story of Heidi, the tousle-haired poppet sent to live in the Swiss Alps with a grandfather (Hersholt) she has never known. Soon she warms the grumpy geezer’s heart, but that’s not the happy ending you think it is – her mean aunt then sells her to nasty Fräulein Rottenmeier (Mary Nash) and grandpa has to go searching for her.
One of over twenty big and small screen versions of the Heidi story, this is still one of the best, with Temple on spirited form, and nice support from the grown-up cast. If your little one loves Temple here, other movies of hers worth looking out for are Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1938), The Little Princess (1939) and Little Miss Marker (1934).
Is Heidi suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Little children may be scared of Heidi’s nasty aunt.