The Kidnappers Film Details
Overview: A Scotsman, Jim MacKenzie, living on a primitive homestead in Nova Scotia, is raising his two grandsons, Harry and Davy, following the death of their father in the Boer War. His son’s death has developed antagonism by MacKenzie towar
Tagline: The frankly sentimental story of love, hate and adventure in a primitive land!
Review: A cut-out of this popular children’s film was included in my Dad’s book of posters dating back from his teenage years and which I used to pore over in my own childhood days; being also aware that Leonard Maltin had granted it (in hindsight) an overly generous ***1/2 rating in his film guide (under its U.S. title of THE LITTLE KIDNAPPERS) and that its two child stars, Jon Whiteley and Vincent Winter, were both awarded a Special Academy Award for Best Juvenile Performance has made me include it in my current Oscar marathon…a day after the long-retired Whitely celebrated his 69th birthday. Incidentally, the film also has the unwieldy subtitle of “A Story Of A Scotch Settlement In The Canadian Province Of Nova Scotia”! The narrative begins with the two Scotch-Canadian little protagonists, newly-orphaned, being dumped on the doorstep of their forbidding Scottish grandfather Duncan Macrae, their kind grandmother and rebellious aunt Adrienne Corri; the old man holds a grudge against the Dutch immigrants coming to live around his Nova Scotia farm since his son, the boys’ father, was killed by them in the Boer War. Typically for this kind of moralistic theme and remote setting, there is a Romeo-and-Juliet-type of subplot going on underneath between Corri and friendly Dutch country doctor Theodore Bikel. The plot proper is kickstarted by the grandfather’s refusal to grant the boys’ wish of getting themselves a puppy – which the effortlessly scene-stealing Winter (the younger of the two children) rigorously wants to name “Rover”; when Whiteley finds a baby abandoned in a cabin in the woods, they decide to keep it as their pet! When Whiteley skips school for two days to take care of it, he is locked in the woodshed by Macrae as punishment for his truancy; a panicking Winters wakes up at night to alert his grandfather to the baby’s presence and needs. This is where the plot thickens: Corri had just fallen out with her father for his mistreatment of Whitely; Bikel has quarreled with the old man for his mistreatment of Corri; the baby’s grandfather, another Dutchman (who had been combing the area for it with a posse) comes to apprehend Whiteley and bring him to justice; and the fleeing Corri is trampled by one of the search party’s horses!! Unsurprisingly but not unsatisfactorily, things all turn out nicely in the end at Whiteley’s trial: the fact that the latter does not even understand the seriousness of the charges leveled against him by the prosecutor is proof enough of his innocent abduction of the abandoned baby; the baby’s grandfather admits that his own daughter’s carelessness was to blame for the loss; Macrae tongue-lashes the prosecutor (who wants to send Whiteley to a reform school) and swallows his own pride by thanking the Dutchman for standing up for his grandson. As the old man and his young kin return home from the courthouse, he immediately sets about acquiring for them their much-desired “Rover”. The stark rural setting and pleasantly naturalistic performances are the film’s trump cards; for the record, director Leacock was later responsible for another superior children’s film INNOCENT SINNERS (1957) and Whitely had a short but notable film career as a child star, appearing in such solid fare as Charles Crichton’s HUNTED (1952) and Leacock’s own THE Spanish GARDENER (1956; both co-starring Dirk Bogarde) and Fritz Lang’s period adventure MOONFLEET (1955; with Stewart Granger).
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 93 min
Genre: Drama, Family, Romance
Also known as: De kidnappers,Besiegter Hass,De små kidnappere,Kidnappers – skogarnas folk,The Kidnappers,Os Raptores,Los secuestradores,Les kidnappers,Otmicari,The Little Kidnappers,I confini del proibito,Kidnapperne,Raptores