Kidnapped (1960)


Kidnapped Storyline

Kidnapped and cheated out of his inheritance, young David Balfour falls in with a Jacobite adventurer, Alan Breck Stewart. Falsely accused of murder, they must flee across the Highlands, evading the redcoats.—Cleo

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Kidnapped Movie Reviews

A Vivid Imagination and a love of Scotland

Robert Louis Stevenson, born in Scotland in 1850 and sick with tuberculosis most of his adult life, was one prolific author of books of travel and adventure that are read and enjoyed even today. The imagery he creates in his books is so vivid that cinematic adaption is real easy. In fact this version of Kidnapped won high praise in the British Isles for being remarkably faithful to the book.

The story was also filmed on location in Scotland lending a real authenticity to the story. A whole slew of Scots players got work in this one and Australian Peter Finch and American James MacArthur fit right in with them.

Impossible for me to believe, but this Walt Disney film did not do as good in America as in Europe. I suppose it was both the accents and the knowledge of the political situation in Scotland post the rising in 1745 that Americans did not appreciate or were ignorant of. This American certainly did.

Young David Balfour the heir to the manor of Shores has one big problem collecting his inheritance, the presence of his uncle who is the reigning laird. Uncle Ebenezer who is deliciously played by John Laurie arranges a snatch by a sea captain friend of his and David (James MacArthur) is to be sent to the Carolinas in the American colonies as an indentured servant.

On the boat young David whose politics and heritage make him a supporter of the Hanoverian George II who is the reigning King of Great Britain finds himself having to make common cause with Scottish soldier of fortune Alan Breck Stewart who is played by Peter Finch and boasts proudly of bearing the name of the true House that ought to be running things. He’s a Jacobite, a supporter of the claim of James III, who is exiled in France and who fought at Culloden with Bonnie Prince Charlie.

These unlikely allies affect an escape from the ship and make their way back to the House of Shores to set things right. Being a Jacobite and by dint of that, a traitor in Hanoverian eyes makes it all the more dangerous for both of them.

James MacArthur, son of playwright Charles MacArthur and Helen Hayes, was a young Disney star during that period, doing a whole bunch of roles for Disney on the small and big screen. Peter Finch makes his second and last appearance in a Disney film, he was memorable as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Disney’s Robin Hood film. They have a good easy chemistry between them and if it were not so the film wouldn’t have worked at all.

Three other players of note here are Bernard Lee as the sea captain who kidnaps Balfour, Finlay Currie as a fellow Jacobite clan leader who gives Finch and MacArthur shelter, and Peter O’Toole who bests Finch in a bagpipe playing contest.

Robert Louis Stevenson died in Tahiti in 1894, but in his short life left us a remarkable output of literature like Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Master of Ballantrae, and so much more. Though he went to the South Seas for health reasons and a love of adventure, if that can be combined in one individual, his love of Scotland was never shown better than in Kidnapped and in this classic adaption of that story.

Excellent adventure movie from Disney

Kidnapped is based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and has been made several times. This Disney version is excellent.

David Balfur’s uncle arranges for him to be kidnapped and is taken aboard a ship but gets shipwrecked along the way but eventually manages to get back to Scotland after teaming up with adventurer Alan Breack Stuart. The journey takes them across the Scottish Highlands and face dangers along the way including soldiers in Redcoats.

This movie is shot on location in the Scottish Highlands and contains some great scenery.

The cast includes James MacArther, Peter Finch, Benard Lee (before his role as M in the James Bond movies), John Laurie (Private Frazer from Dad’s Army), Finlay Currie, Nial MacGinnis and Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia). Excellent parts from all.

Watching Kidnapped is an ideal way to spend an hour and a half one afternoon. Excellent.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.

On the run

Walt Disney adapts Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1886 story in a bright colourful romp but retains the darker elements of the story such as the murder of the cabin boy.

James MacArthur better known from classic Hawaii Five-O struggles with whatever British accent he is attempting but comes across as a vulnerable but likable David Balfour who after his father dies visits his miserly uncle Ebenezer who attempts to kill him in an accident and when that fails lures him to a ship that is due to take him to the Americas as an indentured labourer.

In his voyage he comes across Alan Breck Stewart (Peter Finch) who the ship captain plots to kill for his money. David warns Alan and the two are able to overcome the murderous crew and escape ashore. Stewart is a Jacobite wanted for murder but both make it back to safety where David confronts Ebenezer as tries to claims his inheritance.

Peter Finch known for serious dramas rather enjoys himself in this Disney film and pitches his performance just right. He has a bagpipe duel with a young Peter O’Toole who is also a hoot in his brief scene.

The film loses steam a little at the last stretch but is a fun, unpretentious film and it was shot in Britain.