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In Search of the Castaways (1962)

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For this Jules Verne tale Hayley Mills hooks up with Walt Disney studios for a live action adventure aimed at the kiddies back in the day. Passable time filler but no where near the success that Disney proved with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Joining Mills in the search for her castaway Father is Maurice Chevalier, Michael Anderson Jr. and Wilfrid Hyde White. Chevalier plays a French professor helping Mills and her brother in their search while White plays the Owner of a fleet of ships that Mill’s father worked for.  Their journeys lead them around the globe battling through earthquakes and volcanoes not to mention an original cad in the form of George Sanders who once again proves untrustworthy. No surprise there if you know anything of Sanders career in film.

This Disney production was directed by Robert Stevenson who worked mainly for Uncle Walt from Old Yeller through to the Flubber films and Herbie the Love Bug as well. Throughout the films 98 minute running time we get songs from Chevalier and Hayley as they go about crossing the globe with plenty of matte shots and back screen projections to give us that location feeling which of course never works. I think the film was trying to emulate the James Mason film from 1959 and another Jules Verne title, Journey To The Center of the Earth but doesn’t come close to succeeding if that was the intention. There is a hokey slay ride down a mountain and some decent model ships crossing the ocean to keep the young ones entertained but overall this is for the little ones or followers of the star attractions.

The year previous to this title Mills had been in a fan favorite The Parent Trap for Disney which was a much more entertaining film than this. Michael Anderson Jr. had just appeared opposite Robert Mitchum in The Sundowners and would move on to play a lead role in the rousing John Wayne adventure The Sons of Katie Elder in 1965. The elder statesmen of the film, Chevalier, White and Sanders had of course been around for years and would all continue to act in films till their inevitable passings.

For a Jules Verne on screen adventure I would suggest sticking to Under the Sea from 1954 or Center of the Earth from 1959.

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