It's true. Jodie Foster can do anything. And she has been able to do anything for a long time. For the early part of the 80's, she was considered just another child actor, but there was something to her. Then she pulled out all the stops and snatched herself a trophy for THE ACCUSED and cemented herself into A list status, where she got complete control of her career and got to choose what projects she wanted to work on. Smart lady. Interestingly enough, she has ALWAYS got to pick and chose her movie choices! She actually turned down a major role in PRETTY BABY to make CANDLESHOE and was able to grant the world what it truly wanted. The first ever lesbian kid movie. Little lesbians rejoiced!
Jodie is able to full convey her character within the opening credits of the movie. She is basically a full on nightmare. Raised in the streets, she trust no one and doesn't own anyone any favors. This Disney fused kiddie movie, has something that just about all the other Disney films of the 70's lacks. Grit. There is some real TAXI DRIVER/MEAN STREETS grit to the first half of CANDLESHOE. A hustler wants to use Jodie in an Anastasia-esque scheme to get inside the house of CANDLESHOE and steal the treasure. Problem is he only has one clue and a troublesome pre-teen to go on. When Jodie sasses him, he full on slaps her. HARDCORE. She agrees to the scheme and dons a dress in one of the most uncomfortable moments in Disney history. She does get a good meal though. So with the first clue to the treasure of CANDLESHOE and a couple of pairs of sensible shoes, Jodie sets off to cheery olde England to have herself a grand adventure.
She weasels her way into CANDLESHOE, but raises a few eyebrows with the orphans that run amok on the property. David Niven plays a the cranky, but with a heart of gold housekeeper and Helen Hayes is on board as the lady of the manor. Helen goes gangbusters on this movie. She ain't playing. The chemistry between herself and Jodie is golden. Two amazing actors distanced only by their age totally hold their own with each other. Bowls of rice pudding and a couple of cherry colas later, Jodie is onto the series of clues that just might make her a fortune with CANDLESHOE.
Head girl orphan is not about to let some street trash from America come in and ruin her good thing has a full on brawl with her. "I guess I better go see what is stirring up the chickens!" As they fight, we are treated to a great rolling down a hill sequence. Toss in some Kung fu and I'm sold! The girls form a silent bond and decide to be frenemies, which is always hotter than just friends.
As the mystery deepens, we begin to realize that life at CANDLESHOE is not all just fun and games, you gotta work it if you want to live there. And just when you thought you couldn't handle anymore of the David Niven/Helen Hayes scenes (so boring), Jodie has to make one of the toughest kid choices EVER! The movie hits the hour and fifteen minute mark and goes full title boogie til the conclusion. I love a good Helen Hayes stunt double. I think Jodie did her own stunts or the dude playing her stunt double is her doppelganger.
CANDLESHOE is so refreshing. All the other 70's Disney movies get stuck in some weird time warp and seem so old fashioned, but getting a lesbian teen to solve a mystery is always a good way to win over the kids. CANDLESHOE is also very empowering for the gay community because it does not rely on the easy plot point of having a love interest. Jodie has NO time to get involved with romance. She has a treasure to find, secrets to keep hidden and a lot of teen angst to work through. Oh, and she did this movie AFTER TAXI DRIVER!!! That deserves a big ole GIT IT GIRL!
I do miss the old Disney VHS boxes.