DVD: Kidnapped (1971)
There have been various filmed versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Kidnapped‘, but for me it is the dual leading roles of Michael Caine as Alan Breck, and Lawrence Douglas as David Balfour which makes this my preferred adaptation, plus the beautiful end title song ‘For All My Days‘ by Mary Hopkin is the audio icing on a visual treat.
It is 1746 and Jocobite rebels are fleeing after the battle at Culloden. 18 year old David Balfour attempts to claim his inheritance from his Uncle Ebenezer (played superbly by Donald Pleasence) but his Uncle doesn’t want to give it to him and claims to make a profit off David by coshing him and having him put on a ship to be sold as a slave in the colonies.
En route to the colonies the ship collides with a small boat which has Alan Breck aboard who is escaping from Culloden. The ships Captain, upon seeing how much money Alan has on his person, decides to enlist the crew to kill him and take everything that he has. David befriends Alan and helps in a stand-off where they are hopelessly outnumbered yet emerge victorious from the fight. The melee is not without its consequences though and the ship is badly damaged after hitting rocks, leaving both David and Alan washed ashore on the coast of Scotland. With over 100 miles between them and their destination of Edinburgh, it leaves a deadly journey where each footstep could take them into the waiting arms of the ruthless Redcoats.
There is so much to love about this movie from the aforementioned performances by Caine, Douglas and Pleasence, to the twists and turns of the classic story by Robert Louis Stevenson, and all framed by the gorgeous scenery of Scotland which is perfectly captured by director Delbert Mann.
While not gory by any means (it is rated PG here in the UK) the movie coveys a sense of tension and shows the consequences should either jacobite rebel or red coat cross paths. The fight scene in the ship where both David and Alan have to defend themselves against a swarm of the ships crew reminded me of a short intense battle taken from Assault on Precinct 13, but without the bloody squibs. While their travels across the Scottish terrain, all the time trying to avoid contact with the red coats was reminiscent of The Warriors journey trying to get back to Coney Island…except David and Alan didn’t have to fight guys wearing garish make-up and carrying baseball bats.
Kidnapped is a movie that should be in everyone’s collection and there is no better version than the one released by Network on Air. The widescreen picture is crisp and colourful, showing the Scottish highlands and lowlands in all their glorious majesty. Add to this special features which include over an hour of interview material with Michael Caine (who is always great in interviews) and you have a package that you should now be going off to buy.
- Original theatrical trailer
- Production featurette
- Archive Michael Caine interviews (over an hour of interviews with Russell Harty and Gloria Hunniford)
- Image gallery
- Promotional material PDF