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Candleshoe

Candleshoe(1977)

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teaser Candleshoe (1977)

Candleshoe (1977) is a typical Disney adventure/comedy/Cinderella story, featuring a tough, plucky heroine who finds redemption and family in one of England's stately homes. Casey Brown (Jodie Foster) is an orphaned delinquent making her way as best she can on the streets of Los Angeles. A con man persuades her to go to England and pretend to be the long-lost grandchild of Lady St. Edmonds (Helen Hayes) who is living in genteel poverty in her stately home, Candleshoe, with a devoted butler (David Niven) and a trio of local orphans. The con man wants Casey to find a pirate treasure hidden on the Candleshoe estate. Initially hostile, Casey begins to warm to Candleshoe's eccentric residents and the charms of the house itself. Will she succeed in finding the treasure, and will she betray those who have been kind to her? This being a Disney movie, the answer is never in doubt. The fun of Candleshoe is in watching the old pros and the young one do their stuff superbly.

Jodie Foster had been acting since the age of two, and had made her feature film debut in a Disney film, Napoleon and Samantha (1972). She returned to the studio in 1976 for two films, Freaky Friday (1976) and Candleshoe, with only three weeks off between the end of production on the former and the start of the latter. A lot had happened in the four years between her first film at Disney and her second. Foster's raspy voice and tomboy style got her a lot of tough-kid roles. One of those was a small but showy one in Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974). Scorsese was so impressed that he cast her as a more complex character, the preteen prostitute in Taxi Driver (1976). In 1976, Foster had three films screened at the Cannes Film Festival: Taxi Driver, Bugsy Malone, and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. The Washington Post called her "a prodigious movie talent in the making." She obviously had a big career ahead of her, and at 15, could have segued directly into more provocative roles. Instead, she and her mother decided to demonstrate her versatility and hold on to her childhood a little longer, with the Disney films.

The original writer-director assigned to Candleshoe was David Swift, who had directed Disney's Pollyanna (1960) and The Parent Trap (1961). According to a Foster biography by her brother Buddy, Swift was "outraged" that Jodie was going to be offered the role, saying "She has a coldness that you cannot warm up to." Instead, it was Swift who was replaced as director by Norman Tokar, a veteran of many Disney films and television programs.

Foster's co-stars certainly did not share Swift's opinion of her. David Niven called her "a little smasher" and told his friend Roger Moore that Foster was "a most extraordinarily talented child who knew more than the director or cameraman." Helen Hayes agreed. "She's quite brilliant...hasn't put a foot wrong." Hayes had herself been a child actress, and understood Foster's ease. "When I was a child actress, it was all simply a part of my life, as it is for Jodie." Hayes also noticed something else about Foster. In a memoir published in 1990, a year before Foster made her debut as a director, Hayes wrote, "Jodie would hang around the set, watching how things were done, learning her craft from every angle. She listened to the director with open pores.... and little escaped her gimlet-eyed curiosity.... I'm sure Jodie will become one of our most valuable players."

Foster, of course, proved the prescient Miss Hayes correct. Candleshoe was Foster's farewell to childhood. She worked sporadically while she finished high school, and graduated magna cum laude from Yale in 1985. She won her first Oscar® for The Accused (1988) and her second for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), which was released the same year she made her directing debut with Little Man Tate (1991). Nearly two decades later, Jodie Foster remains at the top of her profession, one of the most respected talents in Hollywood.

Producer: Ron Miller
Director: Norman Tokar
Screenplay: David Swift, Rosemary Anne Sisson; Michael Innes (book "Christmas at Candleshoe")
Cinematography: Paul Beeson
Art Direction: Albert Witherick
Music: Ron Goodwin
Film Editing: Peter Boita
Cast: David Niven (Priory), Helen Hayes (Lady St. Edmund), Jodie Foster (Casey), Leo McKern (Bundage), Vivian Pickles (Grimsworthy) Veronica Quilligan (Cluny), Ian Sharrock (Peter), Sarah Tamakuni (Anna), David Samuels (Bobby), John Alderson (Jenkins), Mildred Shay (Mrs. McCress), Michael Balfour (Mr. McCress), Sydney Bromley (Mr. Thresher).
C-101m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri

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