In Search of the Castaways (1962)

“Castaway, castaway, trust in your star… You know I will find you, wherever you are.”

Synopsis:
Aided by a Frenchman (Maurice Chevalier), a girl (Hayley Mills) and her brother (Keith Hamshere) enlist the help of Lord Glenarvan (Wilfrid Hyde-White) and his son John (Michael Anderson, Jr.) in traveling the 37th parallel to search for their shipwrecked father.

Genres:

Review:
In Search of the Castaways (based on a Jules Verne novel of the same name) once again demonstrates why Hayley Mills was one of the most popular young actresses of her time: as always, she’s resolutely plucky and adventurous, ready to take on any number of obstacles in a decidedly “un-girly” fashion while remaining enormously appealing to boys. Equally game is Maurice Chevalier, perfectly cast as the perennially cheerful Jacques Paganel; with Chevalier on board, one can be assured that nothing so bad will occur that it can’t be cured by a song.

Unfortunately, it’s the lack of any real danger which makes In Search of the Castaways disappointing as an adventure film; as noted by DVD Savant (see review link below), certain sequences — such as the wild avalanche slide through the Andes — seem more like Disneyland rides than genuinely life-threatening situations. Equally disappointing are the special effects, especially in the first half of the film, when it’s obvious the actors are traveling along a sound stage with painted matte backdrops. Nonetheless, ..Castaways has its heart in the right place, and manages to provide a few genuine thrills (i.e., Hamshere nearly being dropped from a rope down into a tribe of vicious Maoris; don’t expect p.c. depictions here), as well as a sweet would-be romance between Mills and heartthrob Michael Anderson, Jr. If you don’t analyze it too closely, this remains innocuously enjoyable family fare.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Hayley Mills in yet another appealing performance
    Mills
  • Maurice Chevalier as the always-smiling Jacques Paganel
    Chevalier
  • Michael Anderson, Jr. as Hayley’s love interest — no great actor, but quite the charming heartthrob!
    Anderson
  • Several exciting sequences
    Exciting

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for Hayley Mills fans.

Links:

One Response to “In Search of the Castaways (1962)”

  1. Not a must and rather in agreement with what’s written here, so not much to add.

    I was going to say that it might be a must for young ffs; however, the special effects being what they are, kids accustomed to much more sophisticated cinema magic may very well find much of ‘In Search of…’ silly or even dull.

    The good news is that things pick up considerably in the last third. There’s a welcome, sudden complexity in the plot – and dastardly (and dependable) George Sanders turns up at that point to lend a much-needed gravity.

    The best news throughout, of course, is Hayley.

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