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Heidi (Jennifer Edwards), a young orphan girl, is sent to live with her grandfather (Michael Redgrave) in the beautiful Swiss Alps. The gruff and bitter old man views Heidi at first as an ill-mannered child and an unwanted responsibility, but he soon becomes quite attached to her.
When Heidi is sent to Frankfurt to be a companion to Clara (Zuleika Robson), the crippled daughter of successful businessman Herr Richard Sesmann (Maximilian Schell), Heidi and her grandfather are saddened at their parting. Heidi finds Clara's governess, Fraulein Rottenmeier (Jean Simmons), to be a kind woman, but the spoiled Clara is mean to Heidi. Heidi soon wins her over, and they become good friends. Still homesick, Heidi is sent on a two-week visit with her grandfather and is later joined by Clara. It is there that Clara overcomes her fears and learns to walk.
This endearing drama, with a romantic subplot between Herr Sesemann and Fraulein Rottenmeier, features exemplary acting and a magnificent music score. It is a favorite classic tale enjoyed by all ages.