Little Lord Fauntleroy is a 1936 drama film based on the 1886 novel of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The film stars Freddie Bartholomew, Dolores Costello, and C. Aubrey Smith. The first film produced by David O. Selznick’s Selznick International Pictures, it was the studio’s most profitable film until Gone with the Wind. The film is directed by John Cromwell.
Young Cedric “Ceddie” Errol (Freddie Bartholomew) and his widowed mother, whom he calls “Dearest” (Dolores Costello), live frugally in 1880s Brooklyn after the death of his father. Cedric’s prejudiced English grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt (C. Aubrey Smith), had long ago disowned his son for marrying an American.
The earl sends his lawyer Havisham (Henry Stephenson) to bring Ceddie to England. As the earl’s sons are all dead, Ceddie is the only remaining heir to the title. Mrs. Errol accompanies her son to England, but is not allowed to live at Dorincourt castle. For Cedric’s happiness, she does not tell him it is because of his grandfather’s bigotry. The earl’s lawyer is impressed with the young widow’s wisdom. However, the earl expresses skepticism when Mr. Havisham informs him that Cedric’s mother will not accept an allowance from him.
Cedric soon wins the hearts of his stern grandfather and everyone else. The earl hosts a grand party to proudly introduce his grandson to British society, notably his sister Lady Constantia Lorridaile (Constance Collier).
After the party, Havisham informs the earl that Cedric is not the heir apparent after all. American Minna Tipton (Helen Flint) insists her son Tom (Jackie Searl) is the offspring of her late husband, the earl’s eldest son. Heartbroken, the earl accepts her apparently valid claim, though Tom proves to be a rather obnoxious lad.
Ceddie’s friend Dick Tipton (Mickey Rooney) recognises Minna from her newspaper picture. He takes his brother Ben, Tom’s real father, to England and disproves Minna’s claim. The earl apologises to Ceddie’s mother and invites her to live with the delighted Ceddie on his estate.
Freddie Bartholomew as Cedric “Ceddie” Errol, Lord Fauntleroy
Dolores Costello Barrymore as “Dearest” Errol
C. Aubrey Smith as the Earl of Dorincourt
Guy Kibbee as Silas Hobbs
Henry Stephenson as Mr Havisham
Mickey Rooney as Dick Tipton, a Brooklyn bootblack
Una O’Connor as Mary, the Errols’ servant
Constance Collier as Lady Constantia Lorridaile, Dorincourt’s sister
Jackie Searl as Tom Tipton
Jessie Ralph as the Applewoman from Brooklyn
Helen Flint as Minna Tipton
Walter Kingsford as Joshua Snade, Minna’s lawyer
E. E. Clive as Sir Harry Lorridaile, Constantia’s husband
Ivan F. Simpson as Reverend Mordaunt
Virginia Field as Miss Herbert, singer at party
Eric Alden as Ben Tipton, Dick’s brother
Reginald Barlow as Mr. Newick, Dorincourt’s debt collector
Lionel Belmore as Mr. Higgins, the farmer
Tempe Pigott as Mrs. Dibble, village woman
Gilbert Emery as Purvis, doorman of the castle
Joseph Tozer as Thomas, servant of the castle
May Beatty as Mrs. Mellon, chambermaid of the castle
Lawrence Grant as Lord Chief Justice
Robert Emmett O’Connor as the Policeman in Brooklyn
Elsa Buchanan as Susan, the parlour maid