Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thirty Days of Disney Movies, Day Twenty - Movie With My Favorite Actress

On TV and in movies, I grew up watching Jodie Foster. She was only a few months younger than I was (still is, I believe), so I always related to her and, yeah, had a crush on her too. In her tweens and teens, she usually played the savvy tomboy--tough on the outside, but with soft center--especially at Disney, where she appeared in four theatrical films during the 1970s. Her big screen debut was in Disney's 1972 flick Napoleon and Samantha. She was only ten when she made it, but she was already a veteran of commercials and series television, guesting on shows ranging from Bonanza to Gunsmoke to The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

In 1976, at the ripe old age of 13, Foster had her breakthrough role playing the teen hooker Robert DeNiro tries to save in the definitely-not-Disney Taxi Driver. It earned her an Academy Award nomination and the cred as an up and coming actress. She was still playing tomboy roles, though, and she appeared that same year for the mouse house opposite Barbara Harris in Freaky Friday. Two years later, she starred in Disney's Candleshoe, one of my favorite Foster films from '70s.

Welcome to Candleshoe.
(l. to r.) Leo McKern, David Niven
Jodie Foster and Helen Hayes 
In Candleshoe, Foster plays Casey, a street kid (with a heart of gold, we suspect) that bears a striking resemblance to the long-lost heiress of Candleshoe, an English estate. Casey is discovered by con man Harry Bundage (Leo McKern), who sees her as a means to unlock the mystery of a lost pirate treasure, if only they can convince the mistress of the house, Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes), that Casey is, in fact, her missing granddaughter. They must also convince milady's loyal butler Priory (David Niven), who has a secret or two of his own.

Candleshoe is a charming film, a high-water mark for Disney's style of light family entertainment at the time. It's a pleasure to watch Foster more than old her own against such old pros as Hayes, Niven and McKern. The story is pleasant with plenty of broad slapstick, including a fun, if somewhat protracted, fight to save the estate at the end of the movie.

It would be the last movie Foster made for Disney (unless you count 2005's Flightplan, which was released by Touchstone). She would go on to much bigger success as a grown-up, of course, winning Oscars for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs. It's nice to know she never completely abandoned her Disney roots, though. In May, she put in an appearance on the black carpet at Disneyland for the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. She was even heard talking about the Country Bear Jamboree.

I knew there was something I liked about her.

The 30-Day Disney Movie Challenge (give or take a few days) keeps plodding along. When next we meet, my favorite actor will catch a clue..errr...Clu.

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