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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Humanitarianism is better than arrogance.

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936) on IMDb

Plot Overview

apple and booksCirca 1885 nine-year-old Cedric “Ceddie” (Freddie Bartholomew) of Brooklyn is an only son, tight with his mother “Dearest” (Dolores Costello) after the sad passing of his (English) father Capt. Erol. His birth­day has initiated a series of gifts: a wooden play sword, some children's adventure stories, an apple for his journey, and a coveted high­wheeler (“It's a lolla­pa­looza!”) Taking his new bike on a ride around town he is accosted by some youth­ful ruffians who try to take it from him, but his friend Dick Tipton (young Mickey Rooney) helps him fight them off, and then a beat cop Mr. O'Brien shows up and they scatter.

Not long after that Dick bids his “brudder Ben” (Eric Alden) farewell who is leaving for Chicago to try to find his boy whom his wife took from him. Then Ceddie must leave all his friends behind when news arrives from England that his distant grand­father needs him to come claim an earldom that falls to him on the death of his only uncle, when he has no cousins-german in line for it. Changes are in store, but mischief is afoot.


He acquires a new name Lord Fountleroy to befit his station, and though he is but a little lord, great is his example. It reminds one of King Solomon deriving profound lessons from the wee critters of the natural world: (Prov. 30:24) “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:”

(Prov. 30:25) “The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” It is good to start earning and squirreling away money when one is young, i.e. in the summer of life. Ceddie is very protective of his “Dearest” mother, using his birth­day sword to fend off imaginary enemies. Of course, he is yet too young to be a bread­winner but he's raring to go, declaiming, “When I'm a man I'm going to work and earn money for her.” For that matter his friend Dick is a strapping lad earning a pittance as a bootblack, but it's a start. And when Lord Fountleroy arrives at Dorin­court castle, his grand­father, the Earl (C. Aubrey Smith,) starts him out right away as a scrivener taking dictation for local business despite his shaky spelling.

(Prov. 30:26) “The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks.” Ceddie's father had reckoned it advantageous for him to live in England, and there he is residing in Dorin­court castle where he's not merely a titular lord but a visible presence (“best friend”) to the villagers under his care.

(Prov. 30:27) “The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands.” It's good to make a lot of informal liaisons. Ceddie has a plethora of friends in Brooklyn (“I'll write all the time and you write to me”) and as Lord Fountleroy he makes a passel of new ones in England (“He has a very affectionate nature and has always been loved.”)

(Prov. 30:28) “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings' palaces.” That spider manages to get itself ensconced in high places despite a bit of intrigue getting there, and Ceddie has some obstacles of his own to over­come if he wants to fit into his proper niche in England.

Production Values

” (1936) was directed by John Cromwell. Its screenplay was written by Hugh Walpole, derived from the book Little Lord Fountleroy (1885) by Hodgson Burnett. It stars Freddie Bartholomew, C. Aubrey Smith, Dolores Costello, and Guy Kibbee. Smith made a delightful curmudgeon of an old man under the sweet influence of his newly arrived off­spring. Mickey Rooney and Guy Kibbee did excellent supporting roles. Bartholomew was a memorable lead. The whole cast was faultless.

It was passed for certification by the National Board of Review. The original version was 102 minutes long, but what I saw from Digiview Productions—whose front cover states, “Sometimes the price we pay is too high”—knocked about ten minutes off that with draconian editing on this now out-of-copy­right movie. It had excellent B&W cinema­tog­raphy by Charles Rosher. The musical score was by classical musician Max Steiner.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

prayingThis movie contains a fair share of good natured banter about the rule of a king (in England) vis-à-vis a president (in America) but it's all kept in perspective by a church hymn, “Crown Him With Many Crowns” referring to the ultimate lordship of Jesus Christ. It's not enough to make this a religious film per se, but it's a nice touch when as author Claude Houghton puts it:

London of 1910 regarded wealth, dominion, and security, as normal and natural … ¶As to religion, the Church of England was an immutable reality like wealth and security. You belonged to it in precisely the same way as you belonged to the Conservative Party. In fact, the Church of England had been defined as the Conservative Party at prayer. (5–7)

This is a heartwarming tale, a classic fit for the whole family. It gets my highest endorsement.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for children: Not rated, passes code. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Good for the family or mixed groups. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Houghton, Claude. A Hair Divides. Copyright © 1930 by Claude Houghton Oldfield. Richmond: Valancourt Books, 2015. Print.