Candleshoe (1977)

candleshoe poster 1977 movie jodie foster
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun movie with a little mystery, good cast

Wish the mystery was better, kid-friendly ending fight seems out of context with story

Movie Info

Movie Name: Candleshoe

Studio: Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense/Family

Release Date(s): December 16, 1977

MPAA Rating: G

candleshoe vivian pickles jodie foster leo mckern

The con is on!

Street-smart Casey Brown (Jodie Foster) has been selected by Harry Bundage (Leo McKern) and his cousin Clara (Vivian Pickles) to commit a big con.  Casey has to make Lady St. Edmund (Helen Hayes) of Candleshoe believe that she is her long-lost granddaughter Margaret in order to search Candleshoe for the legendary lost treasure of pirate Joshua St. Edmund.  Insinuating herself into life at Candleshoe, Casey finds Lady St. Edmund’s life isn’t as it seems and her butler Priory (David Niven) and four orphans (Veronica Quilligan, Ian Sharrock, Sarah Tamakuni, David Samuels) have been keeping Candleshoe running.  Can Casey get in, solve the mystery of the treasure, and get out before she is caught?

Directed by Norman Tokar, Candleshoe is a Walt Disney live-action family mystery movie.  The film adapts the Michael Innes 1953 book Christmas at Candleshoe.

Candleshoe didn’t air a lot, but Jodie Foster’s rise to fame helped get it some more playtime.  While Freaky Friday was on all the time, I kind of liked Candleshoe more just because of its rarity and infrequent appearances.  It is a fun little mystery that is rather easy (and kids might like that they can potentially solve it), and it maintains some of its charm.

candleshoe david niven stops train

One way to stop a train

Candleshoe feels very Dickens-esque.  You have a character who might be the long-loss missing grandchild inserted into an English mansion by two con-artists who ends up finding a home.  The mystery often seems secondary at points, and I do wish that it was a bit more prominent within the story (kind of along the lines of The Westing Game) where you still get character development but also a puzzle.  Unlike typical Dickens stories, Foster’s character doesn’t necessarily find “her family” but does manage to find a home.

The cast for the film is great.  Jodie Foster always nailed the “wise beyond her years” kid and it is really amazing to think she did this after her game-changing turn in Taxi Driver (and that Disney still used her).  David Niven gets a lot of range from his character due to the “playing different roles” aspect of the storyline.  It is nice that it isn’t part of the mystery because sometimes it is very obvious (and it turns out to be obvious to Lady Edmund as well).  The film also marks the last big screen role for Helen Hayes who started in film in 1910 and went on to do some TV before her death in 1993.  I also like the scuzzy Leo McKern who plays Casey’s “wrangler” Harry Bundage.

candleshoe jodie foster helen hayes ending

Perfect jaded ’70s teen

The setting and location (Compton Wynyates in Warwickshire) is nice and it gets the “big” feeling that the movie wants from Candleshoe.  The movie is pretty Disney overall.  The characters (despite dealing with criminals) never feel like they are really in very much danger and the violence is very cartoonish at the end.  This does let down the story a bit and I wish they could have kept the “non-violence” without it being a goofy battle between harden criminals and children.

Candleshoe is a fun little movie that the family can enjoy.  Jodie Foster was a really different kid actress and seems to embody the period in which her teen films are made.  If you haven’t seen the movie, Disney+ has made finding some of the older live-action Disney films a bit easier and it is worth seeking out for a weekend of fun.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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