Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936 film)

Little Lord Fauntleroy
Directed by John Cromwell
Produced by David O. Selznick
Screenplay by Hugh Walpole
Based on Little Lord Fauntleroy
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Starring Freddie Bartholomew
Dolores Costello
C. Aubrey Smith
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Charles Rosher
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • March 6, 1936 (1936-03-06) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $590,000[1]:206

Little Lord Fauntleroy is a 1936 drama film based on the 1886 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film stars Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello, and C. Aubrey Smith. The first film produced by David O. Selznick's Selznick International Pictures, it was the studio's most profitable film until Gone With the Wind. The film is directed by John Cromwell.[2]

The film was critically well received and is now in the public domain.[3] In 2012 it was released on Blu-ray Disc by Kino Lorber, following a restoration by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department.


Young Cedric "Ceddie" Errol (Freddie Bartholomew) and his widowed mother, whom he calls "Dearest" (Dolores Costello), live frugally in 1880s Brooklyn after the death of his father. Cedric's prejudiced English grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt (C. Aubrey Smith), had long ago disowned his son for marrying an American.

The earl sends his lawyer Havisham (Henry Stephenson) to bring Ceddie to England. As the earl's sons are all dead, Ceddie is the heir to the title. Mrs. Errol accompanies her son to England, but is not allowed to live at Dorincourt castle. For Cedric's happiness, she does not tell him it is because of his grandfather's bigotry. The earl's lawyer is impressed with the young widow's wisdom. However, the earl expresses skepticism when Mr. Havisham informs him that Cedric's mother will not accept an allowance from him.

Cedric soon wins the hearts of his stern grandfather and everyone else. The earl hosts a grand party to proudly introduce his grandson to British society, notably his sister Lady Constantia Lorridaile (Constance Collier).

After the party, Havisham informs the Earl that Cedric is not the heir apparent after all. American Minna Tipton (Helen Flint) insists her son Tom (Jackie Searl) is the offspring of her late husband, the earl's eldest son. Heartbroken, the earl accepts her apparently valid claim, though Tom proves to be a rather obnoxious lad.

Fortunately for Ceddie, his friend Dick Tipton (Mickey Rooney) recognises Minna from her newspaper picture. He takes his brother Ben, Tom's real father, to England and disproves Minna's claim. The earl apologises to Ceddie's mother and invites her to live with the delighted Ceddie on his estate.


Freddie Bartholomew, Mickey Rooney
C. Aubrey Smith, Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello

The cast of Little Lord Fauntleroy is listed at the American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films.[4]



Little Lord Fauntleroy was the first film produced by Selznick International Pictures, created by David O. Selznick when he left Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. While he was still at MGM Selznick purchased the rights to the story from Mary Pickford for $11,500 and secured the performance of his David Copperfield discovery, Freddie Bartholomew.[1]:194, 200

Ben Hecht, Richard Schayer and Selznick himself polished the screenplay commissioned from Hugh Walpole. Directed by John Cromwell, the film was shot during the last two months of 1935.[1]:201 Made within its budget of $500,000, the film's final cost was $590,000.[1]:202, 206

The film was released through United Artists after a world premiere March 4, 1936, at Foundation Hospital in Warm Springs, Georgia.[4]

Box office

By 1939, Little Lord Fauntleroy earned an estimated profit of $447,000. It was Selznick International Pictures' most profitable film until Gone With the Wind.[1]:206

Critical response

Frank S. Nugent reviewed the film for the New York Times on April 3, 1936:

There is a benign aura about the photoplay, a mellow haze of things long past which should lull even the most adamant anti-Fauntlerite into a state of restful receptivity. This may be due to the period settings which have been contrived so handsomely, or to the performance of a perfectly attuned cast, or to Hugh Walpole's adaptation, or to John Cromwell's sentient direction. Whatever the cause, and it probably was the combination of all four, the picture has a way with it and, unless we are very much in error, you will be pleased."[5]

Home media releases

Long in the public domain, Little Lord Fauntleroy was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc by Kino Lorber in 2012. The film was remastered by the George Eastman House Motion Picture Department,[6] from Selznick's personal print.[7]

"This Kino Classics release, while far from perfect, sources an original 35mm nitrate print resulting in a better than acceptable presentation," wrote DVD Talk. "And unless original film elements turn up, this is probably the best Little Lord Fauntleroy is going to look for the foreseeable future. Highly Recommended."[8]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Thomson, David, Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992 ISBN 0-394-56833-8 hardcover
  2. "Little Lord Fauntleroy". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  3. Wright, Rebecca (14 June 2012). "Blu-ray Review: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936)". Movie Gazette Online. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  4. 1 2 Little Lord Fauntleroy at the American Film Institute Catalog
  5. Frank S. Nugent (1935-04-03). "Little Lord Fauntleroy, a Pleasant Film Version of the Familiar Novel, at the Music Hall". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  6. Little Lord Fauntleroy at Kino Lorber, Inc. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
  7. "From Our Vaults to Your Living Room". George Eastman House blog, September 24, 2012
  8. Stuart Galbraith IV, Little Lord Fauntleroy (Kino Classics Remastered Edition) (Blu-ray), DVD Talk, June 26, 2012. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
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