Walt Disney’s live-action feature is a faithful recreation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. The film itself is sluggish because its story line is not clear enough and for other reasons does not arouse any great anxiety or excitement in the spectator.
James MacArthur plays the young 18th-century Scottish boy cheated of his inheritance by a conniving uncle. The boy is kidnapped by a cruel shipsmaster for sale as an indentured servant in the Carolinas. He escapes through the aid of a dashing fellow Scotsman (Peter Finch).
From a story point of view, the screenplay is weak. It is never clear what the aim of the principals is, so there is not much for the spectator to pull for. Individual scenes play, but there is no mounting or cumulative effect.
Kidnapped was photographed on location in Scotland and at Pinewood, London. The locations pay off richly, with an authentic flavor. Perhaps too richly, with accents as thick as Scotch oatmeal.
Finch as the swashbuckling follower of the exiled Stuart kings is a tremendous aid to the production. MacArthur gives a sturdy performance, handicapped by little opportunity for flexibility of character.