Classic: ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’

Little Lord Fauntleroy (Kino), the 1936 adaptation of the 19th century Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, was the first solo venture by former MGM producer David O. Selznick. Thirties child star Freddie Bartholomew stars as Ceddie, the most well-mannered and respectful boy in New York City, who travels to England to accept the inheritance of his grandfather, The Earl of Dorincourt (C. Aubrey Smith). It’s kind of like “Heidi” by way of “Stella Dallas,” with his mother (Dolores Costello) stepping aside so the boy will be accepted in his new society, while Ceddie thaws the cold heart of the lonely, unfeeling old man. The film itself, directed by John Cromwell, is tastefully slow and anonymously handsome, filled with easy sentiment and a lush score (by Max Steiner) that plays on the heart strings.

This is another of the Selznick literary productions that fell into the public domain years ago. There have been many DVD versions of the film, most of them of very poor quality. This edition, made in collaboration with the Selznick Estate, is mastered from a preserved 35mm print from the George Eastman House. There are some badly damaged sequences but overall it looks significantly better than previous DVD editions, and it marks the Blu-ray debut. More problematic is the sound, which is thin and the weaknesses are exaggerated in the mastering, which distorts some of the dialogue. While we still await a definitive restoration, this is currently the best version on home video. No supplements.

More Classics and other releases at Videodrone

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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