Picks and Pans Review: Heidi
In the title role of this four-hour adaptation of the children's classic, 10-year-old Noley Thornton is especially good at looking hurt and puzzled. Her Heidi seems always to be standing back and sizing up the situation—which, in terms of pop psychology, is what you would expect of an orphan who tends to get stuck in codependent relationships, first with her emotionally distant grandfather (Jason Robards), then as companion to the rich, clinging little invalid Klara (Lexi Randall). Still, Heidi is supposed to be a beam of sunshine, illuminating others' lives with her indomitable happiness, not an emotional victim.
But so what! The story is practically indestructible, and Heidi's final homecoming to Grandpa, with the Alps looming in the background, is still irresistible. The whole final hour, in fact, is first-rate (best scene: Heidi almost goes over the side of a cliff), and the supporting cast is always interesting. Jane Seymour is Klara's pinched, panicky governess, and Patricia Neal is a wise old blind woman of the mountain.
Four hours may be a more leisurely pace than Heidi, which concludes Monday night, needs. It does give you time, however, to wonder whether the women's braids could have been improved with a Topsy Tail.
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