Review: ‘Escape to Witch Mountain’

What opens on a mild note of interest winds in sock entertainment right down the alley of every Disney fan, and others who haven’t previously been exposed to this type of fare.

This is another Disney cutie of the genre of “The Love Bug” in wallowing in fantasy but having a place all its own in approach to cunning supernatural connivings. What opens on a mild note of interest winds in sock entertainment right down the alley of every Disney fan, and others who haven’t previously been exposed to this type of fare.

In a word, the two leading protagonists of the intriguing story line, a young brother and sister, are psychic. They know things before they happen, and make use of supernatural powers.

A strange pair of orphans who don’t even know where they’re from and are searching for identity, the 10-year-old sister has disturbing memories of an accident at sea which somehow relates to their mysterious destiny. Her 12-year-old brother can make amazing things happen when he starts playing his harmonica. Both can will the impossible, which makes all the fun, particularly when they finally are able to remember they are castaways from another world.

Script by Robert Malcolm Young, based on a book by Alexander Key and directed with a light and sure hand by John Hough, picks up the youngsters as they arrive at a children’s home after the loss of their foster parents.

Their unusual powers, displayed early when they warn a man not to enter a car moments before it is demolished by a runaway truck, leads to an eccentric tycoon who craves a gifted clairvoyant who can make him omnipotent, arranging for their transfer to his palatial home where they are held prisoner.

Using their magical talents for an escape, they take up with a cranky oldtimer traveling in a motor home. Much of the action focuses on their efforts to elude the millionaire and his men who want the children returned, and a sheriff’s posse that believes them to be witches. The chase, so beguiling down through the years to film audiences, and handled here almost with tongue in cheek, ends in the camper being airborne and the moppets finding their destiny in a flying saucer.

Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann are happy choices as the orphans. Eddie Albert inserts just the proper type of crankiness as the camper-owner who gets entangled with them, and Ray Milland properly hams the multimillionaire. Donald Pleasence scores, too, as Milland’s aide commissioned to find psychic assistants for his employer. Denver Pyle makes like he’s actually from another planet.

Jerome Courtland’s producer guidance captures the spirit of the project. Franks Phillips photography is first-rate and Johnny Mandel’s music score properly eerie when occasion demands . Editing by Robert Stafford is sharp and special effects are credited to Art Cruickshank and Danny Lee. Balance of technical credits as usual are highly placed.


Escape to Witch Mountain


Walt Disney. Director John Hough; Producer Jerome Courtland; Screenplay Robert Malcolm Young; Camera Frank Phillips; Editor Robert Stafford; Music Johnny Mandel; Art Director John B. Mansbridge, Al Roelofs


(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1975. Running time: 97 MIN.


Eddie Albert Ray Milland Donald Pleasence Kim Richards Ike Eisenmann Walter Barnes
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