From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1995 film)

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From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Mixed Up Files DVD cover.jpg
Cover of the 2000 DVD release.
Directed by Marcus Cole
Produced by David A. Rosemont
Written by Betty Goldberg
E. L. Konigsburg (novel)
Starring Lauren Bacall
Jean Marie Barnwell
Jesse Lee Soffer
Music by Ron Ramin
Cinematography Kees Van Oostrum
Edited by Jim Oliver
Production
company
Distributed by Geneon
Release dates North America
June 3, 1995
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a 1995 television film based on E.L. Konigsburg's novel of the same name. The story is about a girl and her brother who run away from home to live in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and discover what they think is a lost treasure. The children, Claudia and Jamie, are transfixed with the treasure and won't leave without knowing what its secret is. Lauren Bacall stars in the title role.

The book was previously adapted into a 1973 feature film starring Ingrid Bergman, later released on home video as The Hideaways.

Plot[edit]

Claudia is the middle child of a busy family. She is smart and responsible, often required to help her mother around the house. However, weary of the life in suburban Connecticut, she decides to find something grander. Her younger brother Jamie, along with his extensive savings from playing cards, is enlisted as her partner in crime. They run away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Once they arrive, they spend their days in the museum, exploring and eavesdropping on different schools' guided tours. They hide in the bathrooms until after closing time and sleep in antique beds. While there they encounter "The Angel," a marble statue recently auctioned off by the elusive Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. The striking piece is surrounded by mystery. Many experts dispute the artist who created the work, though many suppose it to be none other than Michelangelo himself. Claudia becomes determined to solve the mystery of "The Angel." Claudia and Jamie spend most of their time in searching and researching new things about the statue.

The following day, the two notice a small mark at the base of the piece. After some research, they find that the mark was one that Michelangelo made on numerous works. Claudia disguises herself as an adult in order to make an appointment with a museum worker to inform them of their discovery. Contrary to her hopes, the official informs her that they knew of the mark but are unsure if it is authentic.

Jamie, homesick after a week away, catches a cold. Refusing to go home before they solve the mystery, Claudia suggests that they visit the statue's previous owner, Mrs. Frankweiler. She refuses to tell them directly, but does permit them to attempt to discover the answer for themselves. After leading them to a room lined from floor to ceiling with filing cabinets, she informs them that they have one hour to search for the truth. After 54 minutes of fruitless effort, Claudia uncovers the correct file. It contains a sketch of the sculpture from one of Michelangelo's notebooks, proving that he is, indeed, the creator. Finally appeased, the siblings permit Mrs. Frankweiler to drive them home.

Authenticity[edit]

The film lacks the narrative of Mrs. Frankweiler present in the book which causes it to lose much of the book's humor and wisdom [1]. For the majority of the film, the script stays true to the action in the book. However, Claudia's posing as an adult and Jamie's cold are not present in the novel. TV Guide asserts that these changes may differ from the book, but bring added drama to the film.

Critical Acclaim[edit]

TV Guide granted the film three and a half stars out of four. It declared that the film was a "somewhat dry, but still thoroughly entertaining adaptation of an excellent story." They also write that the film "celebrates the magic and beauty of art, the fun of an adventure, and most of all, a child's need to feel important." Their final word on the matter proclaim that "the performances and production are first rate. The children are variously brilliant, bratty and excitable, and Lauren Bacall is appropriately dignified as Mrs. Frankweiler.[2]"

J. Dillard writes that the movie is carried by its casting of Lauren Bacall in the title role and that the film "never rises above the level of the TV Movie.[3]" However, he does say that it "should be entertaining " for its preteen target audience.

Cast[edit]

  • Lauren Bacall as Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the keeper of the mixed-up files and donator of "The Angel"
  • Jean Marie Barnwell as Claudia Eleanor Kincaid, mastermind and runaway
  • Jesse Lee Soffer as James Lincoln "Jamie" Kincaid, partner in crime and money manager
  • Miriam Flynn as Evelyn Kincaid, Claudia and Jamie's mother
  • Mark L. Taylor as Ralph Kincaid, Claudia and Jamie's father
  • M. Emmet Walsh as Morris, one of the guards at The Met
  • Devon Gummersall as Steve Kincaid, another Kincaid child
  • Del Hunter-White as Cora
  • Warren Munson as Mr. Jordan
  • Everett Wong as Bruce, Jamie's friend from whom he wins all of his card money
  • Tim Haldeman as Herbert
  • El Konigsburg as Sarah

External links[edit]