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on 12 June 2012
THE FILM: "The Kidnappers" is a superb film set in a Scotch settlement in Nova Scotia in 1904, but actually filmed in Scotland (exteriors) and at Rank's Pinewood Studios in England (interiors). Two recently orphaned young brothers, eight years old Harry (Jon Whiteley) and five years old Davy (Vincent Winter) go to live with their stern and puritanical grandfather (Duncan MacRea); their grandmother (Jean Anderson) and their auntie (Adrienne Corri) on a remote rural farm. The grandfather shows the boys no love and will not let them have a pet dog. So, when the boys find a seemingly abandoned baby in the woods, they 'adopt' it as their pet and and take it in turns to look after it on a daily and nightly basis in their woodland den. However, the baby has not been abandoned, just mislaid by a careless babysitter and, unknown to the boys, the entire neighbourhood is out searching for it...! That's all there is to the story, really, save for a subplot involving the auntie and a local Dutch doctor (Theodore Bikel), but it's so beautifully done that it holds your attention from beginning to end. Both Jon Whiteley and Vincent Winter deservedly won juvenile Oscars for their amazing performances at the 1955 Academy Awards ceremony in Hollywood...and rightly so (the film was not released in the United States until 1954, where the title was changed to "The Little Kidnappers", presumably so that audiences wouldn't think it was a gangster picture!) The film was also nominated for a BAFTA award as Best British Film of 1953. The uncredited baby, supposedly a girl, was, in fact, a boy named Anthony Michael Heathcoat, who, if still alive, would be over sixty years of age by now.

THE SPIRIT ENTERTAINMENT DVD: The image is lot clearer on this DVD than the rather soft-focused version shown on Channel 4 and Film 4 in the UK, but the sound is very distorted for the first couple of minutes or so, making the theme music sound terrible, but it does get better after the opening titles. There is a scene selection on the DVD, but no extras and it's the usual bare bones release we've come to expect from this company. Jon Whiteley is still alive aged 67 and it would have been nice for him to have done a commentary on the disc or an interview. But no such luck. Vincent Winter died of a heart attack aged 50 in 1998. All the adult members of the cast and crew, with the possible exceptions of Adrienne Corri and Theodore Bikel, are no longer with us.
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on 25 December 2007
This is one of my childhood favorites! If you check IMDb, it is also a favorite of MANY other people. It is a wonderful story; a picture of immigrant life in Canada (Nova Scotia, in particular) with terrific characters and acting, especially by the two boys who play the "kidnappers"! Yet I never even see it SHOWN ON TV, let alone, released on DVD!
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VINE VOICEon 6 August 2008
The beauty of Film 4 on British television is that they show a lot of films that have not seen the light of day for a long time.

If I have not heard of the title I immediately look up on the internet to see the reviews. This one was a great sentimental children's film which was perfectly palatable for adults.

Great acting by the children the granddad and Jean Anderson as their grandma. The language was quaint as it was a mixture of old Scottish words in a supposedly Canadian setting.The granddad played a similar dour Scotsman in Tunes of Glory which is another great film

Good solid story and you really believed in the characters even though the premise that two young children would be capable of looking after a small baby is a bit far fetched but that is what children's stories are about.

Great film and it nearly made me cry but it all turns out right in the end. Can't reccomend it highly enough
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on 12 May 2012
This film has stayed in my mind since childhood. The child actors are amazing.
The dialogue is so touching after the kids find the baby, and take it to their
grandfather.
It will make you smile and also bring tears to your eyes with the innocence of it
all.
I would recommend this film to anyone who loves nostalgia and who was growing up in the
50's when this was first released. An incredible film
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on 31 December 2013
I found this little gem on YouTube over Christmas and therefore bought a copy for myself. It's an absolute delight with the most wonderful acting on the part of the two young boys. I feel I must warn others, however, be aware that the quality of the dvd is not up to the standard shown on YouTube, sadly. Still a delight to watch.
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on 17 May 2013
Other reviewers have given valuable details of plot, actors, and appreciation.
I can only add that, when my wife and I first saw this, copied from TV, my wife said we must NOT copy over the VHS tape.
Sadly, we misplaced the tape.
Happily, the recent DVD is a great copy of the original.
Some few films are perfect.
This is one.
It is of an era, naturally.
Black and White.
Occasionally stirring music. (Nice music.)
But the whole creation (sets, casting, performance ...) is faultless!
Duncan McCrae (the intensely DOUR Scotsman, an emigree crofter, illiterate, puritanical, but profoundly human) is also glorious as the wise, sad pipe-major in the better known, similarly PERFECT Scots film, "Tunes of Glory" (Alec Guinness, John Mills) -- also a superb novel!
John Gough -- jagough49@gmail.com
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on 27 August 2014
Brilliantly quiet, sensitive and moving drama convincingly creating its milieu of hard but fair frontiersmen as far from cowboys as you can get. A very different view of the new world with a perfectly reasonable soft centre. A kind of antidote to 1950s nihilism or gloom about man's relationship to nature and therefore likely to be seen as middle-brow, but desperately hard to resist and its simple philosophy of endurance and forgiveness means it might be mentioned in the same breath as Ozu, especially in the direction of children. Philip Leacock deserves great praise for this humane achievement. Superbly acted and unobtrusively directed.
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on 31 January 2014
lovely, all actors believable, a pleasure to see Theodore Bikel again, and the two boys are wonderul. It appears that this has not been released in the USA, Why not?
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on 8 October 2013
A wonderful heartwarming story of childish love overcoming adult foolishness. Old fashioned story telling, beautifully acted especially by the children.
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on 24 June 2013
Very quick delivery, a wonderful film. A must see for every film lover, the two boys are amazing actors! They steal the film!
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