Cinema Short Takes: Madeline

Don't Thank Heaven for This Little Girl

Give us the '40s Margaret O'Brien. Now there was a child actress who knew that childhood could be an orphanage, an abode of isolation, misery and misunderstanding. When Miss Margaret's lower lip got to quivering in Meet Me in St. Louis, why, it took a Judy Garland ballad to dredge the poor kid out of depressive hysterics.

Such geysers of emotion are out of fashion; today's movie children are action figures. Yes, girls too. Madeline (Hatty Jones), the heroine of Ludwig Bemelmans' children's books, is an orphan, but she spends little time pondering her fate. Instead, she does what contemporary...

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