Debuted on TV in 2006. Not rated.
Molly's birthday is coming up, and she's wondering what to do for her party. She wants to have a party styled after the fashions of the British princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, but rationing won't allow it. Her dad suggests a special day for the two them, and Molly thinks it's a good compromise. They have a fun day. Even without a big party, there are other exciting things in Molly's life. Her teacher is engaged to handsome lieutenant, providing Molly and her friends with ample fuel for discussion, and her tap-dance class will be holding auditions for its Miss Victory pageant in a few weeks.
Then her world turns upside-down. Her father is joining the Army, and will be sent to England to work in hospital, caring for wounded soldiers. Her brother and sister are proud of their father, but Molly is scared. What if he doesn't come back? He reassures her that he's not going to be on the front lines (but Molly knows about the Blitzkrieg bombing of civilian areas), and asks Molly to be his North Star, his guiding light. While she's still scared, Molly is able to be supportive of her father. After he leaves, she puts a picture of him in the locket her dad gave her for her birthday.
Her dad's leaving prompts more change. Her mother gets a job at an airplane assembly plant, so Molly's Aunt Eleanor will be coming to help with household but until she can make it, a neighbor, Mrs. Gilford, will act as housekeeper. Mrs. Gilford is strict, and has different rules, and goes on and on about her son Johnny, fighting overseas. Most importantly, she's not Molly's mother or father. After a talk with her mother about sacrifice, Molly resolves to have a better attitude about things. The next day she comes home ready with a cheerful greeting for Mrs. Gilford, but she's not there. She received word earlier that day that Johnny was killed in action. Molly soberly helps her mother make a casserole for the grieving mother.
Shortly after, Molly's mother surprises the family with Emily Bennett, an English girl Molly's age. She's been sent to the States by her parents because of the Blitzkrieg. Another worker at assembly plant was going to take her in, but her son was injured in the war and she needs to care for him. Emily's very quiet, but does mention that her family has had the English princesses over for tea at their manor. Because Emily talks so little, Molly assumes that she's stuck up, used to a grand life. Emily's standoffish with the McIntire family, but quickly wins everyone over at school. They're fascinated by her, and she makes it onto the class's spelling bee team with Molly. The competition comes down to Molly and Emily, but as they're facing off over the final words, Molly's teacher gets a telegram that her fiance was killed. Naturally, this ends the spelling bee.
At home, Molly meets the woman at whose house Emily was going to stay. As she talks with her, Molly learns that Emily isn't from the upper class. She lived with her parents in a little apartment until it was bombed. Her father was a bus driver before he enlisted in the service, and her mother was killed in the bombing. Molly doesn't understand why Emily lead on her and her friends, but she also doesn't out Emily. Now knowing what Emily's been through, Molly reaches out to her again, offering sympathy and encouragement instead of badgering her with questions. Emily eventually reveals the truth (Molly hadn't let on that she knew, to save her the embarrassment). She went along with the leading questions that Molly and her friends asked about England because she thought that was what they wanted to hear. Molly reassures her that no one hates her. The girls start to really bond.
The movie skips ahead from the end of the school year to the end of the summer. Aunt Eleanor is finally arriving, but to Molly's disappointment, she's not staying. She's joined the Women's Airforce Service Pilots and will be leaving soon for Texas. Molly's upset, but she's matured since her father left. She understands that everyone needs to help in the best ways they can. No one can wait around for someone else to do something. Molly hopes she can learn what she's best at soon. At least she and Mrs. Gilford get along well now.
She gets her chance with the start of the new school year. She's been practice tap dancing since the spring, and her hard work pays off: she gets the part of Miss Victory. But when she gets home with her good news, her mother has a telegram. Her father went out after a bombing to look for wounded and no one's heard from him. She wonders if she should quit her part in the play, but her teach from the previous year encourages her to keep doing what she loves, just as her late fiance would have wanted. Molly agrees, but it's hard to keep hope, especially when her father is officially classified as MIA (Missing In Action). Now it's Emily's turn to comfort the McIntires. She tells them about a classmate of hers who was missing for weeks before he was found safe.
As time marches on with no news about her father, Molly is inspired to volunteer to help with the war effort. She and her friends get involved with scrap drives and other activities mentioned in the books. Soon it's almost Christmas. Molly, Jill, Ricky, and Emily surprise their mother by decorating for Christmas while she's at work. As they're enjoying the cozy home, a telegram arrives from the Army: Molly's father is alive. It's not a perfect Christmas--it's Emily's first without her mother, and the Bennett and McIntire families are separated--but they can manage to be happy with what they have.
Molly's family and Emily go to the Christmas concert, where she gets to dance the part of Miss Victory (yay!). After the finale, which Molly dances sans glasses, she sees a familiar but blurry shape backstage. Unbelieving, she puts on her glasses. It's her father! He's walking with a cane, but he's safe and he's home. Molly and her family enjoy Christmas with Emily, now an honorary member of the family for as long as she needs and wants to be.
The movie starts in the spring of 1943. It ends that Christmas.
Molly only has one brother in the movie.
Molly, Susan, and Linda meet their teacher's fiance (who should be in the Army Air Corps, not the Air Force since that didn't exist separate from the Army until the 1950s) and he greets them with an almost-smarmy "Laaadies."
"The war against Germany"? What about Italy and Japan?
Molly's mother and sister knit in a few scenes, as does Mrs. Gilford, and the actors seems to know what they're doing.
The rank on Molly's dad's uniform is that of a captain (O-3). He leaves on a train with Army soldiers and Navy sailors.
I love the characterization of Ms. Lavonda, and the actor playing Ricky does a wonderful job portraying an annoying brother. The actor playing Molly is absolutely perfect in the scene where she finds out that Mrs. Gilford's son was killed in action.
Honestly, I'm surprised Emily would do so well in an American spelling bee. A lot of words are spelled differently, like theater and theatre, humor and humour, realize and realise. It comes up once, but in the second-to-last word (maneuver/manoeuvre) but I'm sure it would have come up before then.
Molly's classmate Alison Hargate is stuck-up in the movie, instead of just perfect without meaning to be annoying like in the books.
The North Star isn't very bright. It's important for navigation because it doesn't move in the night sky. It's certainly not bright enough to see through clouds!
If my kids ever read this: no matter how tired I am around Christmas time, don't surprise me by putting up the decorations. Get a tree and get the boxes out without me, but I want to help put the ornaments on. I don't need much sleep in general (unless I'm sick--rare--or pregnant--probably only once more), I'll stay up long enough to decorate with you.
Molly's dad brings back Christmas gifts: an RAF insignia for Ricky, a French silk scarf for Jill, a British doll for Molly, and a copy of A Christmas Carol for Emily (her favorite book, which had been lost in the bombing) that's signed by her father.
Molly McIntire - Maya Ritter
Jill McIntire - Genevieve Farrell
Ricky McIntire - Andrew Chalmers
Mrs. Helen McIntire - Molly Ringwald
Dr. James McIntire - David Aaron Baker
Gladys Gilford - Sarah Orenstein
Aunt Eleanor - Amy Stewart
Emily Bennett - Tory Green
Susan Shapiro - Hannah Fleming
Linda Rinaldi - Samantha Somer Wilson
Alison Hargate - Josette Halpert
Charlotte Campbell - Sarah Manninen
Ms. Lavonda - Eliza Jane Scott
Ms. Littlefield - Mary Francis Moore
Ms. Shaw - Elva Mai Hoover
Mrs. Taft - Geri Hall
Billy Morgan - Bradley Reid
Lt. Tom Davies - Joe Sacco
Principal Stevens - Keith Knight
Tim Rutledge - Landon Norris
Pageant Boy - Dana Gould
Delivery Boy - Luke Muirhead
Military Messenger - Steve Carey
Dwight Koloski - Cameron Lewis
Jimmy (Boy Speller) - Jason Spevack
Boy in Spelling Bee- Thomas Brodie-Sangster
Jane - Alex Steele
Conductor - Sean Wayne Doyle
Reporter - Kaleigh Howland
Newsreel Narrator - Bill Tomney (voice only)
Linda Darnell - herself (archival footage)
Background voice - Audrey Twitchell
Tap Girls - Hanna Cowie, Natasha Crombie, Amanda Finelli, Roxanne Hummel, Jordana Mirsky, Morgan Mitchell, Jerri-Lynne Smith, Chelsea Stowe, Stephanie Troyak