As his first for Selznick International after leaving Metro, David O. Selznick turns in a fine, sensitive picture in Little Lord Fauntleroy, which may well rank with his David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities. It’s a transmutation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s mid-Victorian saga.
A theme as prissy as Fauntleroy, where the earl-to-be calls his mother ‘Dearest’, might have proved quite hazardous in anything but the most expert hands. As Hugh Walpole adapts it. John Cromwell directs it and a sterling cast troups it – all under Selznick’s keen aegis – it’s very palatable cinematic. fare.
Young Freddie Bartholomew is capital in the title role and Dolores Costello Barrymore, marking her film comeback, as ‘Dearest’, his young and widowed mother, are an ideal coupling in the two principal roles. C. Aubrey Smith as the gruff and grumpy earl who blindly hates his daughter-in-law just because she’s American, well-nigh steals the picture in a characterization setup that’s a match for this vet thespian. Henry Stephenson as the English barrister is on a par in a role that calls for much restraint.