26 January 2005 | moonspinner55
Beautiful production, but it needed more humor and heart...
James MacArthur is very good in early role as young white man in 1760s Philadelphia who, years earlier, was kidnapped and raised by the Delaware Indian tribe, now being traded back to his people as part of a peace agreement. The white man's customs have the kid alienated and sullen, but a sympathetic frontiersman and a lovely servant-girl try to help him adjust. MacArthur has a great masculine stance and a firm jaw--and he's unhurt by his Mohawk haircut--but he's perhaps too rigid; the character might have stood some silly, self-effacing moments. Everything in this adaptation of Conrad Richter's book is taken with the utmost seriousness, but where's the heart of the piece? And with whom should our sympathies lie? Wendell Corey overdoes his role as a town bully--not only racist and a liar, but an alcoholic as well--though Fess Parker's good-hearted scout relieves some of the tension in this solemn scenario. Carol Lynley makes her film debut (playing a white girl named, of all things, Shenandoe!); she's sweet flirting with MacArthur, and looks like Alice in Wonderland in her apron-dresses. Well-produced Walt Disney effort given by-the-books treatment, as if it were written and directed by stodgy history professors, though still engaging for fans of old-fashioned entertainment. *** from ****