Heidi is a dramatic film that was written by Earl Hamner Jr., based upon the novel by Johanna Spyri. Directed by Delbert Mann, the film features Jennifer Edwards, Jean Simmons, Maximillian Schell and Michael Redgrave. The story follows 5 year old Heidi, who is left in her grandfather's care after her mother and father have died. As he has lived in seclusion for years, the villagers have nicknamed him Alm Uncle. At first, he resents the fact that Heidi has been brought to his doorstep. In time, she manages to endear herself to her stern grandfather.
In around 3 years, her aunt comes to get Heidi to take her to Frankfurt to be the companion of 12 year old Clara Sesemann, an invalid. Over the year, Heidi has difficulties complying with the strict housekeeper, becoming very homesick. Her only enjoyment is in learning how to read and write. She is also very motivated to be able to read to her friend Peter's grandmother who is blind.
Heidi's health begins to fail. Several sleepwalking incidents cause hysteria within the household. This prompts Clara's doctor to arrange for Heidi to go home to her grandfather. When she returns, her grandfather is motivated to go into the village for his first time in decades.
Clara and Heidi stay in contact. The doctor convinces Heid's grandfather to allow Clara to visit. Heidi teaches her good friend Peter how to read and write. Clara makes to Heidi's home over the following season, spending a wonderful summer with her.
Clara's health improves from the fresh food and mountain air. Peter begins to feel neglected and decides to push Clara's wheelchair and it goes down the mountainside. Cara tries to walk without her wheelchair and gradually learns how to walk. Clara's family is so overjoyed that Clara is walking that they promise to care for Heidi in the event that her grandfather becomes unable to do so.