Plot: Cedric (Freddie Bartholomew), who lives in New York with his widowed mother, finds out that he is the grandson of a British earl, and is to go to England to live in his castle. After marrying an American, Cedric’s father was estranged from the Earl, but now that both of the Earl’s sons have died, Cedric is the only heir. He says goodbye to his best friends, Mr. Hobbs (Guy Kibbee) and Dick (Mickey Rooney), and leaves for England, not knowing that the Earl has forbidden his mother to set foot in the castle.
The Earl is a rigid and somewhat pompous man, but, encouraged by his mother, Cedric sees everything the Earl does as wonderfully generous and kind. The old man is utterly charmed by Cedric, as are all who meet him, and he tries to live up to Cedric’s image of him. They grow to love each other. There is a crisis when they are told that the Earl’s older son was married and had a son of his own before he died, and that boy is the rightful heir. With the help of Dick, they prove the new heir a fraud, the Earl realizes that Cedric’s mother is a fine woman, and they all live happily ever after.
Discussion: This is basically a male version of “Pollyanna.” Like Pollyanna, Cedric goes to live with a wealthy but crusty and snobbish relative, insists on seeing the best in everyone (even when it isn’t there), and wins the hearts of all who know him. Not quite as sugary as its reputation, it may still put off kids who think Cedric is too perfect. But his colorful friends, his maturity under stress, and the fun of the idea of his being brought from poverty to an Earldom make it hold up surprisingly well.
Questions for Kids: