“Castaway, castaway, trust in your star… You know I will find you, wherever you are.”
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.
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
- Maurice Chevalier as the always-smiling Jacques Paganel
- Michael Anderson, Jr. as Hayley’s love interest — no great actor, but quite the charming heartthrob!
- Several exciting sequences
No, but it’s recommended for Hayley Mills fans.