Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Freddie Bartholomew
KIDNAPPED (1938). Directed by Alfred L. Werker.

Loosely based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson Kidnapped juxtaposes the stories of young David Balfour (Freddie Bartholomew) and Scottish rebel Alan Breck (Warner Baxter), whom Balfour comes across on his way to his wealthy uncle's castle in 1747. Although David does not at first approve of the activities of the British-hating Breck, he comes to admire the man and even does his best to save his life. As David comes afoul of his evil uncle, he keeps encountering Breck and Jeannie (Arleen Whelan), a woman Breck was taking to a compatriot who has to flee Scotland; instead Breck falls in love with her and vice versa. Although a touch obvious at times, Freddie is excellent, Whelan is lovely and affecting, and there are also wonderful performances from the likes of C. Aubrey Smith, Miles Mander, and H. B. Warner. Warner Baxter is heroic enough, but his acting leaves something to be desired. There's a great scene with a crumbling staircase, and the whole business with David being shanghaied, encountering Breck and Jeannie on ship board, is very exciting Well photographed by Gregg Toland.

Verdict: Good show! ***1/2.

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