Return to Candleshoe
Last week, I recorded Candleshoe on Turner Classic Movies, and I watched it during breakfast over two consecutive mornings this week.
I remember catching this movie in the theatre as a little kid, but I don’t think I’d seen it since, unless it was on the Sunday night “Wonderful World of Disney” sometime when I was growing up. All I really recalled was Jodie Foster’s tomboy character, David Niven in a swordfight, and a clue to the mystery that involved the sun shining through a library window.
Revisiting it sparked a feeling more than any concrete recollection: Seeing the old Buena Vista film logo tugged a sort of emotional thread to being at an age where these live-action Disney movies felt packed with stuff and hilarity and just enough emotional weight to make an elementary-schooler care a little bit.
It made me dig around and look at other Disney flicks of the era that I remember seeing on the big screen: Pete’s Dragon, for instance, which feels “earlier,” but actually came along about the same time as Candleshoe; Freaky Friday (1976) – a cop car splits in half! This was almost pants-wetting funny to me at the time; Gus; and The Cat from Outer Space, which I saw on a surprise trip to a drive-in. I also distinctly rememver seeing Never A Dull Moment, which must have been re-released, since it dates back to 1968.
What really struck me about Candleshoe this time around was its unexpected shelf life. I mean, honestly, it’s got that Disney-dated look to it (though it’s somewhat less pronounced because most of the movie takes place in England on an old estate and an appropriately quaint village), but really, it felt like a lot of the new-era Disney Channel movies I’ve watched with my daughter over the past few years.
The story and characters and twists and situations, from the long-lost heir to a fortune to the bumbling con man and his crew to the fighting-kids-destined-to-become-friends development all fit right in with the likes of Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior and Princess Protection Program.
Of course, Candleshoe had the credibility of Foster and Niven and Helen Hayes working for it, so from the start, it’s got a more big-screen pedigree, but still, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow. Disney’s still making the same movies they did when I was a kid.” They’re just straight-to-TV-and-DVD these days.
(Know what was on right after Candleshoe? Escape to Witch Mountain. Yes, I recorded that one, too, though I mostly remember seeing the previews for its sequel, when the little telepathic kids were teenagers.)
Here’s the other thing that kind of stunned me: Candleshoe seems very much a trip to early-kid-dom for me, and it seemed to belong in that vague, fuzzy pre-kindergarten era of my life, like Snoopy Come Home and The Apple Dumpling Gang.
But it came out in 1977.
December 1977. In other words, by the time I saw Candleshoe, I had already seen Star Wars and was busy rewiring my brain for a few decades of obsession in that realm. Yet despite my mental division between one age and the next, and the wholly separate feelings that each movie triggers, they came along at about the same time.
Now, have I ever mentioned that I saw The Godfather when I was two? No? I’ll save that one for later.