One thing Shirley Temple did extremely well (besides sing, dance, and act) was turn the cranky cuddly. She'd done it effectively, two years prior, in 1935's The Little Colonel with grandfather Lionel Barrymore. Now in Heidi she turns her reclusive grumpy grandfather, Adolf (Jean Hersholt), into the loving sort she knows he really is. Heidi is an orphan, dumped into the Swiss Alps by self-centered Aunt Dete (Mady Christians) onto a grandfather she's never known, but they soon learn to love each other. Heidi's mercenary aunt returns and sells (!) Heidi to a cruel woman, appropriately named Fraulein Rottenmeier (Mary Nash). Adolf sets out on a quest to find his granddaughter.