Heidi (1937 film)

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Heidi (1937 film) poster.jpg
Promotional Poster
Directed by Allan Dwan
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Screenplay:
Julien Josephson
Walter Ferris
1880 Story:
Johanna Spyri
Starring Shirley Temple
Jean Hersholt
Arthur Treacher
Mary Nash
Marcia Mae Jones
Sidney Blackmer
Music by David Buttolph
Charles Maxwell
Ernst Toch
Cinematography Arthur Charles Miller
Edited by Allen McNeil
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 15, 1937 (1937-10-15)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Heidi is a 1937 American musical drama film directed by Allan Dwan. The screenplay by Julien Josephson and Walter Ferris was based on the 1880 children's story of the same name by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. The film is about an orphan named Heidi (Temple) who is taken from her grandfather (Hersholt) to live as a companion to Klara, a spoiled, crippled girl (Jones). The film was a success and Temple enjoyed her third year in a row as number one box office draw.

The film is currently[when?] available on DVD, which features the original black and white, and newly[when?] colorized, versions of it.[citation needed]


Adelheid, called Heidi (Shirley Temple), is an eight-year-old Swiss orphan who is given by her aunt to her mountain-dwelling grandfather (Jean Hersholt). She is then stolen back by her aunt from her grandfather to live in the wealthy Sesemann household in Frankfurt, Germany as a companion to Klara (Marcia Mae Jones), a sheltered, disabled girl in a wheelchair.

Heidi is unhappy but makes the best of the situation, always longing for her grandfather. When Klara's body and spirits mend under Heidi's cheerful companionship, the housekeeper (who has tried to keep Klara dependent upon her) tries to get rid of Heidi by selling her to the gypsies, but she is stopped by the police. Heidi is rescued and reunited with her grandfather.


  • Shirley Temple as Heidi, a young orphan living with her hermitted grandfather in an Alpine hut. She is very happy, optimistic and adventurous and she loves her grandfather very much.
  • Jean Hersholt as Adolph Kramer, Heidi's grandfather who is grumpy at first but learns to love Heidi as his granddaughter.
  • Marcia Mae Jones as Klara Sesemann, a kind and crippled rich girl, but very caring, polite, and happy towards Heidi.
  • Sidney Blackmer as Herr Sesemann, Clara's doting and busy father who wants nothing but happiness for his daughter.
  • Thomas Beck as Pastor Schultz, the pastor of the village who talks to Adolph about Heidi's future.
  • Arthur Treacher as Andrews, a butler in the Sesemann household who is always nice to Heidi.
  • Mary Nash as Fräulein Rottenmeier, the châtelaine of the Sesemann household who is mean and strict on Clara's well-being.
  • Delmar Watson as Peter, the goat general of Adolph Kramer's and a good friend of Heidi's.
  • Mady Christians as Dete, Heidi's self-interested aunt who has taken care of her for 6 years.
  • Helen Westley as Blind Anna, Peter's grandmother.


The Alpine scenes were filmed at Lake Arrowhead, California with cast and crew staying in the Lake Arrowhead Hotel or in private chalets. Temple lived in a trailer parked on a hillside and only left it at the very last moment to do her scenes – after her stand-in had finished with lights and sound. Temple had at least eight bodyguards who escorted her to and from the trailer and about the area when necessary.[citation needed]

Midway through the shooting of the movie, the dream sequence was added into the script. There were reports that Temple was behind the dream sequence and that she was enthusiastically pushing for it but in her autobiography she vehemently denied this. Her contract gave neither her or her parents any creative control over the movies she was in. While she enjoyed the opportunity to wear braids and to be lifted on high wire, she saw this as the collapse of any serious attempt by the studio to build upon the dramatic role from the previous movie Wee Willie Winkie.[1]

During the scene where Temple's character gets butted by the goat, she initially did the scene herself while completely padded up. After a few takes, however, her mother stepped in and insisted that a double be used. One of the extras, a boy, was dressed up to look like her. The boy's father was so upset over him doubling for a girl that he prohibited him from ever acting again. The double, who was not named, would later share diplomatic duties with Temple in Africa. Temple also had trouble milking the goat. To remedy this, Dwan had a flexible piece of tubing installed in such a way as to make it look as if the goat was being milked.[2]

During the making of the movie, director Dwan had new badges made for the Shirley Temple Police Force. This was an informal group thought up by Temple in 1935, which was, as she described "an organized system of obligations from whomever I was able to shanghai into membership."[3] Every child wore one after swearing allegiance and obedience to 'Chief' Temple. Everyone on the set was soon wearing badges with Temple strutting about giving orders to the crew such as "Take that set down and build me a castle." They went along with the game.[4]:111

Temple made one other film in 1937, Wee Willie Winkie. The child actress was growing older and her career flagging when Heidi was filmed, but she retained her position as number one at the box office for the third year in a row.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shirley Temple Black, "Child Star: An Autobiography" (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1988), 192-193.
  2. ^ Shirley Temple Black, "Child Star: An Autobiography" (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1988), 190-192.
  3. ^ Shirley Temple Black, "Child Star: An Autobiography" (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1988), 89.
  4. ^ Edwards, Anne (1988). Shirley Temple: American Princess. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. 


  • Windeler, Robert (1992) [1978], The Films of Shirley Temple, New York: Carol Publishing Group 

External links[edit]