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4.5 out of 5 stars51
4.5 out of 5 stars
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Delbert Mann's hugely underrated 1971 version of Kidnapped takes a more fatalistic approach to the story than might be expected. Rather than opt for easy swashbuckling, Alan Breck is here a man in constant denial as he travels through a defeated landscape rife with disillusion in the wake of the Battle of Culloden, while David Balfour is trying to make sense of a world where those who are supposed to be on his side are far less honourable than those supposed to be his enemies.

Blessed with a superb script by Jack Pullman (with some elegantly witty dialogue), a beautiful score by Roy Budd and a wonderful use of location that really comes alive in widescreen, it also works as a pretty good adventure movie, and if Michael Caine is phenomenally miscast as the Jacobite rebel he makes a surprisingly good job of it, as do most of the impressive supporting cast. Only Freddie Jones in a typical display of stilted ham lets the side down. The film was a famously troubled production, with many of the cast and crew reportedly unpaid, but thankfully shows few signs of it on the screen.

Network's new impressive 2.35:1 widescreen release keeps the trailer and original featurette from the previous Carlton release and also adds a trio of unrelated Michael Caine interviews (two with Russell Harty and one with Gloria Hunniford) as well. Recommended - but be warned that the DVD menu is absurdly awkward to navigate.
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on 2 June 2009
This obscure cinematic adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Kindapped' is one of my favorite movies of all time. I first watched it at school when I was ten years old. I barely understood any of it, but the complex relationship between its leading characters and the haunting ending left a strong impression on me. Over fifteen years later,I suddenly remembered it, and set out to watch every version of 'Kidnapped' I could find. I was shocked to discover that the classic ending was completely different. I read the book and was shocked again. Having long forgotten that this version stars Michael Caine, it took me a long time to track it down. I had to order it from Britain and find a multi-standard DVD player to watch it on. When I did, its effect on me was even more powerful than the first time I saw it. Although 'Kidnapped' was a great book, Jack Pullman and Delbert Mann took it to a whole new level with this, turning an adventure story into a beautiful tragedy reminiscent of 'Things Fall Apart.'This version's ending is what really makes it special. No matter how many times I see it, it always stirs great sadness in me, even if I'm 100% aware that I'm just watching actor pretending to be escorted to his death. It just speaks to the capacity of high art to move beyond emotional manipulation through identification with fictional characters and invoke sadness toward a universal tragedy. It reminds me of the catharsis of Ancient Greek plays; those stories were never really just about the death of a person who never even existed.

But still, even though it sounds like I'm worshiping this movie, I don't honestly think it's PERFECT. You can tell the production was rushed and had all kinds of problems. There's a scene right at the beginning where a Jacobite collapses after a slash to the back before the weapon has even touched him, and the scene in which Balfour tells Breck about the plot to kill him is too rushed, like the actors just wanted to get their lines out without listening to each other; this inevitably makes the scene sound rehearsed, and is probably the result of too many takes and a stressed director.

But small flaws like that don't matter when a story has real depth and meaning, not to mention superb character conflict and dialog. With the exception of the scene I just mentioned, Caine and Douglas perform fantastically in the movie. I'm saddened that it never got the credit it deserved. A New York Times columnist actually reviewed it recently when it was shown at the RKO Twin 2 and Penthouse Theaters, and it just went WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY over his head. He actually attacked it based on its low budget and lack of action scenes; so much for New Yorker sophistication and culture. The greater tragedy here is that fiction which appeals to the intellect rather than the childish desire to be entertained has no place in the modern world. Most people can't even recognize a movie that appeals to the intellect and just think it's boring, kind of like a child being forced to watch a black-and-white classic.

But getting back to the movie, I agree with every last deviation from the novel, including the decision to make Catriona James of the Glens' daughter instead of James Moore's. This gives her an important role and reason to be in the story; in the novel and other adaptations, she's clearly just the female interest thrown in. Frankly speaking, this movie is better than the book. Some may think that's blasphemy, but it's my honest opinion.
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on 15 April 2007
I spent two weeks last summer in Scotland, and went to all the places that figure prominently in this film: Culloden Moor, Edinburgh Castle, Ediburgh Old Town, saw the picturesque wild landscapes, and learnt about the story of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and of its defeat that is the setting for the film. Everything in the reconstruction is right, including the accents of the actors, the clothes, uniforms, weapons, as well as the atmosphere of the times, and these were sad and brutal times for Scotland.

The story, set in this background, is one of a young man, David Balfour, who comes to claim his inheritance from his uncle after his father's death. The uncle first tries to kill him and then sells him to the captain of a ship bound for America, the Carolinas more precisely, to be sold there as an indentured servant. Through a chance meeting with Alan Berk Stewart, a Jacobite gentleman fleeing from the defeat at Culloden, he manages to escape and land ashore. He then follows Berk as he tries to join other Jacobites who might help him to leave for France.

Our young hero, a very idealistic Scottish lowlander who fate decides should be friend of Jacobite rebels, finally manages to reclaim his inheritance and also to find love. All the while being caught in the middle of this Civil War. It is fought between the English red-coated army supported by Scottish lowlanders and the Highland clansmen. They support two different branches of the royal family claiming the combined thrones of England and Scotland, i.e. on the one hand the "legitimate" but absolutist Stewart heirs, of Scottish origin, or Jacobites ( after James II, expelled from the throne in 1688), against the Hanoverian or German princes chosen and backed by the English parliament.
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This was surprisingly good; Michael Caine kept his Scots accent to a lowland level and avoids the Freddy Jones Hoots Toots version, fortunately the lead was exactly the sort of stickler Lowland Scot one needed, and Catriona has the red hair. It is years since I read the books so any errors passed me by. Shot in Scotland to its benefit.

And was that Doctor Snoddy playing the doctor? More Scots stereotypes than you can shake a stick at.
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on 23 June 2015
I had seen it on tv a long time ago, and longed to get the dvd. As a story it's a classic that touches the right string of everybody's heart. As a movie it bears the fantastic perfumed smell of those years of social evolution, to which the plot had been adapted. For both reasons the movie can go to the bottom of the heart of those of my age. Well made, perfect team work of the actors, fantastic landscape background, and wonderful last bite, the voice of Mary Hopkins in the closing score. To be viewed here and there, when one feels to loose the connection to a reality a bit apart from the empire of busines of today.
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on 21 April 2014
Another struggle for independence in Scotland after Culloden. Michael Caine is an extremely good actor and makes it a very good story.
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on 4 July 2015
Michael Caine in the lead role ? I think not. It really takes a more convincing Scottish accent to pull this one off. Richard Todd in "Rob Roy" experienced similar problem, as did Mel Gibson in "Braveheart". The story line is good and Trevor Howard is reasonably successful in his role.
It's not an easy task to transfer a good novel to celluloid. David Lean could do it for Dickens. This movie merited better acting and direction.
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on 21 November 2003
This is a fair version of an excellent novel. Well worth watching. However lets get one thing straight the jacobite rebellion was nothing to do with Scottish independance. It was an attempt by Bonnie Prince Charlie, using the scots, to take the crown of England and Scotland. This was something which was opposed by many scots, who where fed up with years of oppression under royalist dictatorships, and to a lesser extent that of the clan cheifs, who prospered whilst the poor suffered. If anything this was a civil war in Scotalnd. I do wish people who are interested in Scottish History would actually read a book, instead of rewriting up my countries history to suit their own agenda. Sorry about this but it is important.
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on 22 February 2015
Great - very helpful context setting for teaching Kidnapped by RL Stevenson, although nothing like the book! v atmospheric and some lovely shots of scenery and Culloden for the students.
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on 24 January 2014
Love the book and have waited absolutely ages for this DVD to go sufficiently down in price enough for me to take the gamble and buy it (as it's never on TV!). I certainly enjoyed it. All of the performances are good and there is some very nice cinematography, but I would have preferred it to stick to the book more. I felt the story was glossed over a bit and I'm still uncertain about the different ending. However, Caine is very good in this film, and I disagree with people who say he's miscast. Although his Scotch accent is very slight and he slips between this and his famous 'My name, is Michael Caine...' type 'I'm fram Landan' accent that we're all used to - it doesn't matter. Alan Breck is one of his best performances! Davey Balfour is played very well too (can't recall the actor's name off-hand), Donald Pleasance is brilliant as always, and that bloke from out of The Professionals puts in a memorable turn also. It's just all a bit too brief, things in the book only being alluded to - there is much more to the adventure in the book than has been used for the film. I feel I need to look at it again. There are some extras - 3 interviews with Caine, a production featurette and theatrical trailer (all of which, for the life of me, I cannot access as the menu isn't the most straight forward to navigate). Oddly enough, the very day I recieved this in the post it came on the telly the same evening! Sod's law I suppose...
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