Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Hideaways (1973)

A lighthearted children’s movie with a reassuring message about appreciating the virtues of home despite the allure of faraway places, The Hideaways was based on E.L. Konigsburg’s novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a Newbery Award winner. When the story begins, gangly teenager Claudia Kincaid (Sally Prager) decides to run away from her suburban New Jersey home because she doesn’t feel appreciated. Enlisting her younger brother, preadolescent Jamie (Johnny Doran), as an accomplice, Claudia slips away with Jamie to New York City, then heads straight to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, since Claudia is fascinated by ancient lore about chivalry. Drawing on their considerable ingenuity, the kids contrive means of living at the museum for several nights, hiding out from guards during closing time, grabbing coins from a wishing fountain for purchasing cafeteria lunches, and sleeping in beds that are on exhibit. While at the museum, Claudia becomes enchancted by a delicate statue of an angel, which may or may not have been carved by Michelangelo, so when homesickness motivates the kids to vacate the museum, they trek to the home of wealthy widow Mrs. Frankweiler (Ingrid Bergman), the statue’s previous owner. One of those gruff-but-loving types found only in children’s movies, Mrs. Frankweiler recognizes a kindred spirit in the willful Claudia, so the older woman shares a secret about the statue with her new young friend, giving Claudia an unexpected reward to her mischievous adventure before Mrs. Frankweiler’s driver escorts the children home. The Hideaways isn’t all that well-made (the children’s acting is just okay and the photography is murky), but the story is a heartfelt celebration of youthful imagination. Obviously, the picture exists in a fantasy realm where nothing bad ever happens to children, and contemporary kiddie viewers weaned on Night at the Museum would probably find the picture interminable. But with its fanciful narrative and sweet themes, to say nothing of Bergman’s formidable presence, The Hideaways is reputable juvenile escapism from a more innocent era. (Available at

The Hideaways: FUNKY

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