The Little Kidnappers (1990)

The Little Kidnappers (1990)

Little Kidnappers movie poster

At the end of this film, the credits rolled and I realized I had been watching Ben-Hur himself for the last hour and a half. Charlton Heston in a Disney Channel movie… who knew! A Disney Channel Premiere Film, to be exact. The Little Kidnappers was originally a short story by Neil Paterson, which was first adapted into a film in 1953. The Disney Channel screenplay was written by Coralee Elliott Testar and directed by Donald Shebib.

Two Scottish brothers, Harry (Leo Wheatley) and Davy MacKenzie (Charles Miller), are orphaned as a result of the Boer War. They go to live with their grandparents and aunt in Nova Scotia, where their grandfather detests the Boers. Even so, their aunt falls for a handsome Boer doctor, and Harry eventually befriends Jan Hooft, whose father is in a land dispute with Harry and Davy’s grandpa, James MacKenzie (Charlton Heston).

Harry and Davy with their baby

Harry and Davy are absolutely adorable. Harry goes walking on the beach and finds a baby girl swaddled next to a large rock. “Hello, bebby! Where do you come from? Have you got no mum or dad like me?” Along comes Davy. “Now listen, Dave. I’ve got something mighty special in there!” Harry has stashed the baby inside a cave. The boys endeavor to care for the child and feed her, but they keep her a secret from their family. “This is my bebby!” So. cute. They don’t know they’re kidnappers. They think the girl is orphaned, just like they are.

The “bebby” belongs to the Hooft family, the ones Grandpa MacKenzie hates with a passion. A town-wide search ensues, and at the end of the film, Harry has to testify before the town court. “I never thought it was anybody’s bebby! I just thought I found it. I thought it was like Davy and me, all by ourself, with mum and dad all gone away.” If this wasn’t moving enough, after Davy and Harry have to give up their foundling, their grandfather decides to buy them the mail-order puppy they wanted. He found the order form in his shoes, which he sold to afford the dog. You’ve gotta see this pre-DCOM work of art. But a warning: there is a gun scene in which the grandfather almost accidentally shoots Harry. That aside, The Little Kidnappers is gorgeously filmed, with a grand score from prolific composer Mark Snow.

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