Ralph Nelson’s film version of Walter Macken’s story, Flight of the Doves, is a heartwarming, often funny, often suspenseful story of two runaway children, fleeing from a cruel stepfather (British) to their grandmother (Irish) who lives ‘somewhere in Ireland’.
The screenplay, takes some liberties in casting. Dorothy McGuire is a delight as a bright-eyed, most articulate grandmother, standing up to authority, both Irish and British, on behalf of the young runaways, but is much too young looking to make anyone believe that she could have a grandson as large as Jack Wild.
It allows Ron Moody to dominate the film from his first appearance. With almost as many character changes as Alec Guinness had in Kind Hearts and Coronets, Moody is so good at his diguises that the audience starts imagining that each new character who appears might be the irresponsible Moody. Ostensibly the villain, he’s so captivating that no one really believes that he won’t survive (even after seeing him plunged into a wild Irish sea).
As the uncle of Wild and Helen Raye, he’s described as the eventual heir to money left by the children’s grandfather should they die before he does.