This 1993 film was produced by Feature Films For the Family, and tells the story of a young girl who befriends a lonely, disfigured man. When her family faces eviction from their Depression-era home, Bonnie begins working for Mr Ribaldi in his mansion so that they can stay. Upon the discovery that she can sing, Mr Ribaldi begins giving her music lessons.
Meanwhile, many in the town are being evicted from their homes and suspect the mysterious Ribaldi. The villagers spread rumors about Ribaldi and most believe that he is a monster. The children of the town, on the other hand, are drawn to Ribaldi. Incidently, the sick and handicapped people of the village are miraculously healed. Dispite this the townspeople threaten to keep Bonnie from singing in the state singing competition unless she stops visiting Ribaldi. Bonnie tells Ribaldi she will not leave him, but he tells her that to abandon the competition would waste all their hard work, and insists that Bonnie forget about him and follow her dream.
While Bonnie is singing in the competition, Georgie, a young girl from the village, goes to visit Ribaldi. Along the way home, Georgie falls into a river, and Ribaldi saves her. When he tries to bring her to town, the townspeople attack him, thinking he has hurt her. Afterward they destroy Ribaldi's home in search of evidence that he has been taking their homes and land. Instead of this proof, however, they find lists of people Ribaldi has helped.
Bonnie returns home to find that Ribaldi has died from his injuries. While visiting his house after the funeral, she hears Ribaldi's piano being played and goes inside. There she finds a man who looks like Ribaldi, only without scars. When Bonnie asks him his name, he says "Some people call me Rigoletto, but you don't believe that, do you?" before leaving with Hans and Gabriella. It is implied by this that the curse on Ribaldi, hinted at throughout the film, has been lifted because Bonnie had seen the true beauty of Ribaldi's heart.
The plot is a modified telling of "Beauty and the Beast
" with elements of The Phantom of the Opera
This film provides examples of:
- Abomination Accusation Attack: The townsfolk luanch a number of unjust accusations at Mr Ribaldi.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Mr Ribaldi is surprisingly popular with the ladies.
- Angel Face, Demon Face: Mr Ribaldi.
- Back from the Dead: Mr Ribaldi.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: Bonnie and the Princess Gabriella.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Bonnie's singing rival.
- Butt Monkey: Hans, especially when he tries to sing. Mr Ribaldi hits him with his cane and throws a book at him on one occasion, but Hans doesn't really mind.
- Character Development: Mr Ribaldi is all about character development.
- Come to Gawk: The kids tried thier hand at this early on.
- Curse Escape Clause: Mr. Ribaldi will return to normal if, and only if, someone truly loves the inner him.
- Despair Event Horizon: After Mr. Ribaldi makes Bonnie leave for the contest, the audiance is lead to believe this is inevitable. But this is quickly subverted.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "The Melody Within"
- Foreshadowing: When the townspeople think that Mr Ribaldi has kidnapped Papanickolas's little girl they start to head up to torch Mr Ribaldi's mansion but the little girl stops them before they get a chance. Later on the townspeople actually manage it when they think Mr Ribaldi has drowned Georgie in the dam.
- Which is, in itself foreshadowed when Bonnie's mother tells the children not to play by the dam.
- Friend to All Children: Turns out Mr. Ribaldi is.
- The Great Depression
- Happily Ever After
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Poor Hans really does try to sing but fails miserably. Also Bonnie to begin with.
- Homage: Beauty and the Beast.
- Horrible Judge of Character: The townspeople qualifiy.
- I Just Want to Be Beautiful: This is Mr Ribaldi's desire, after being transformed from a handsome prince into a terrifying scarred man.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Ribaldi and Bonnie
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr Ribaldi starts off as this until he meets Bonnie. Quite a lot of the male adults who have lost their jobs and are under a lot of pressure would probably come under this category as well.
- Except considering their actions towards Mr Ribaldi, many would probably constitute as Jerk with a Heart of Jerk.
- Although they do repent and feel sorry for their actions when the truth comes out.
- Love Redeems: Thanks to Bonnie, Mr. Ribaldi becomes a kinder person.
- Magic Mirror
- My God, What Have I Done?: This is the reaction from the townsfolk after the incident with Mr. Ribaldi.
- Story Within a Story: Maybe. The Book Ends make it rather vague as to where the separation is - if there even is one.
- Torches and Pitchforks: When the townspeople come to wreck Mr Ribaldi's mansion.
- True Beauty Is on the Inside: One of the defining themes.