In 1977, Walt Disney Productions brought a book to the screen for the holiday season: Candleshoe.
Based on the novel Christmas at Candleshoe by Michael Innes, the screenplay was written by David Swift and Anne Marie Sisson, with director Norman Tokar.
Starring Jodie Foster as Casey Brown and Helen Hayes as Lady St. Edmund along with David Niven as Priory the Butler and Leo McKern as Harry Bundage as a con-artist, the story was all about the search for a pirate fortune.
The movie was filmed on located in England, at Compton Wynyates, the home of the 7th Marquess of Northampshire.
Con artist Harry decides to rob Lady St. Edmund of hidden money that was left by St. Edmund’s late son, a pirate named Joshua St. Edmond. Harry has found the pirate’s late will which states the fortune is hidden at the family estate.
Harry convinces young orphan Casey to pretend to be Margaret, the long-lost grand-daughter of Lady St. Edmund, so she can start searching the estate for the money. Priory begins to realize Harry is not who he pretends to be, while Casey decides to find the fortune for Lady St. Edmund and not Harry, who is on the verge of losing her home.
A series of odd events and humourous happenings as only seen in a Disney film lead all the characters and the police in a wild search for the St. Edmund pirate fortune.
Released in mid-December 1977, the Disney film was one of many that Tokar directed for Disney and one of several that starred child actor Jodie Foster and sadly was the last film for actress Helen Hayes, who continued her acting career on the stage.
Writer David Swift, who had directed Pollyanna and The Parent Trap, had developed this film but disagreed with the casting of Foster and stepped down from directing the film.
Although not a big blockbuster in the Disney universe, the sweet story fit in well with what Disney represents, and became part of the memorable 1970s films for Foster.