US movie (1973 tvm). Walt DeFaria Productions/Charles M Schultz Creative Associates/Foote, Cone and Belding Productions/20th Century-Fox. Pr Walt DeFaria, Warren L Lockhart. Exec pr Duane C Bogie. Dir Walter C Miller. Screenplay Jay Presson Allen. Based on The Borrowers (1952) by Mary Norton. Starring Eddie Albert (Pod), Judith Anderson (Great-Aunt Sophy), Tammy Grimes, Barnard Hughes, Dennis Larson (Boy), Karen Pearson, Beatrice Straight (movie lacks proper credits). 78 mins. Colour.
The Boy comes to convalesce in the country mansion of his hard-drinking, bedridden Great-Aunt Sophy. She is aware, although she thinks they are Illusions born from her decanter, that the house has nonhuman occupants; her handyman and housekeeper, Mr and the spiteful Mrs Crampfurl, are not. Beneath the grandfather clock lives a family of tiny people, the Clocks (Homily, husband Pod and daughter Arrietty), who survive by "borrowing" small objects. One night Pod is seen by the Boy, who assumes he is a Fairy; the Boy soon finds other evidence of the Clocks' presence and then discovers and befriends Arrietty. One night the Crampfurls, too, find the Clocks' home, and set a ferret after them; but, aided by the Boy, they escape to join the Hendready family of Borrowers living in a nearby field.
This is a somewhat stolid adaptation, resited to New England, of Norton's definitive Wainscot story. Budgetary considerations are evident in the script, with some events being described rather than portrayed, and the performances – the children emphatically excepted – are a little by-numbers, but the spfx are surprisingly convincing and the whole has a pleasing ambience. [JG]