The schoolgirl adventures of Madeline, a flame-haired orphan, are lovingly adapted from Ludwig Bemelmans's classic children's books. His sly and witty writing is transferred to this first-rate film, one that should not be thought of merely as childhood entertainment. Spunky Madeline is most adept at finding trouble. She is also a quick-witted and likable child who can solve almost any problem. Her latest scheme is to keep her school, which is also her home, from being sold by its owner, the recently widowed Lord Covington (Nigel Hawthorne). Unlike most youthful movie fare, this adventure boasts high production values that wisely include colorful Parisian locations. Hatty Jones is all spunky self-sufficiency and sweet innocence in the title role, and Frances McDormand is quite humorous as the stern school-mistress, Miss Clavel.