Kidnapped (1960 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Directed byRobert Stevenson
Written byRobert Stevenson
Based onKidnapped
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Produced byWalt Disney
StarringPeter Finch
James MacArthur
Bernard Lee
CinematographyPaul Beeson
Edited byGordon Stone
Music byCedric Thorpe Davie
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • February 24, 1960 (1960-02-24)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguagesEnglish, Scots

Kidnapped is a 1960 American adventure drama film. It is based on Robert Louis Stevenson's classic 1886 novel Kidnapped. It stars Peter Finch and James MacArthur, and was Disney's second production based on a novel by Stevenson, the first being Treasure Island. It also marked Peter O'Toole's feature-film debut.


In 18th-century Scotland, young David Balfour (James MacArthur) takes a letter of introduction from his recently deceased father to the House of Shaws, where he is greeted without much enthusiasm by his miserly uncle Ebenezer (John Laurie). David finds that Ebenezer is disliked by his neighbours and begins to ask questions about family affairs. Ebenezer tries to arrange a fatal accident for David. David accompanies Ebenezer to a meeting with a seafaring associate, Captain Hoseason (Bernard Lee). Hoseason lures David aboard his ship and shanghais him, at Ebenezer's instigation.

At sea, David learns he is to be sold into indentured servitude. A fog comes up and the ship collides with a boat. Alan Breck Stewart (Peter Finch), the only survivor of the boat, is brought aboard and pays for his passage, but the captain plots to kill him for the rest of his money. David warns Alan, and they overcome the crew. Alan coerces Hoseason into putting them ashore. The ship founders, but David manages to reach land.

After several dangerous encounters, he is rescued by Alan, who turns out to be a Jacobite wanted by the authorities. Evading the soldiers, the two make their way back to the House of Shaws, where Alan tricks Ebenezer into admitting his crimes within the hearing of a hidden witness, allowing David to claim his inheritance.




Robert Stevenson was making Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959) for Walt Disney in England when Disney visited the set and suggested they adapt Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped for their next project. Stevenson re-read the novel, was enthused, and wrote a treatment on a working holiday in Scotland. When another project he was working on fell through, Stevenson wrote a screenplay for Kidnapped.[1] (Despite the similarity of their names, director Robert Stevenson said that he was not related to author Robert Louis Stevenson.[2])

Earlier film adaptations of the novel had been produced by Edison Studios in 1917 and by 20th Century Fox in 1938 and in 1948. 20th Century Fox had registered rights to the title but waived them and the film was announced in December 1958.[3]

Stevenson says Disney was of great use when working on the script. Many people advised Stevenson to put a woman in the story, but Disney resisted, saying it was not true to the novel. By the time filming started, Stevenson estimated he had read the novel "eight to ten times."[4]


The lead role was given to James MacArthur, who had just made The Light in the Forest (1958) and Third Man on the Mountain (1959) for Disney and been signed to a two-picture deal with the studio (the second film would be Swiss Family Robinson). MacArthur would be the only American in the cast.[5] Actor John Breslin coached his Scottish accent.[4]

The other lead role was given to Peter Finch who had just appeared in The Nun's Story (1959).

Peter O'Toole was given a small role at the suggestion of Peter Finch.[1] It was O'Toole's first movie; he would shortly become a sensation of the London stage with his performance in The Long and the Short and the Tall.[6]


Filming started 27 April 1959 on location in Oban in Scotland, with studio work done at Pinewood in London.[7][4]

Stevenson wanted to film the assassination of Colin Roy Campbell in the actual locale, a few miles from Ballachulish, but the original spot was now the site of a forest of Norwegian pines, so he filmed it on the slopes of Ardgour, about twelve miles away.[1]


Box Office[edit]

Kine Weekly called it a "money maker" at the British box office in 1960.[8]


Upon the film's original release, New York Times film critic Eugene Archer gave the film a negative review by stating that, "Either Mr. Disney, who made a vigorous Treasure Island ten years ago, has lost his touch in the intervening decade, or the kids have been spoiled by Gunsmoke and Peter Gunn. Yesterday's audience was definitely not amused."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Arnold, Jeremy. "Kidnapped". Turner Classic Movies.
  2. ^ "Kidnapped (1960)". AFI Catalog. American Film Institute. Retrieved 5 April 2022.
  3. ^ "FILM EVENTS". Los Angeles Times. 25 December 1958. ProQuest 167354795.
  4. ^ a b c S. W. (14 June 1959). "' KIDNAPPED' IN THE HEART OF THE HIGHLANDS". New York Times. ProQuest 114653605.
  5. ^ Hopper, H. (24 January 1959). "Disney protege signed for two big pictures". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 182201102.
  6. ^ S. W. (24 January 1960). "REPORTS ON BRITAIN'S VARIED MOVIE FRONTS". New York Times. ProQuest 115236724.
  7. ^ THOMAS M PRYOR (26 January 1959). "MOVIE TO CO-STAR COWARD, GUINNESS". New York Times. ProQuest 114715321.
  8. ^ Billings, Josh (15 December 1960). "It's Britain 1, 2, 3 again in the 1960 box office stakes". Kine Weekly. p. 9.
  9. ^ "Screen: A Double Bill:' Kidnapped' Is Shown With 'Breakout'". The New York Times. 19 May 1960. Retrieved 28 May 2014.

External links[edit]