“Nobody but you and me are to know of this ‘babby’ — it’s ours!”
When two Scottish orphans (Jon Whiteley and Vincent Winter) are sent to Nova Scotia to live with their grandparents (Jean Anderson and Duncan Macrae), they learn that their father’s death in the Boer War has caused Macrae to hate and distrust all Dutch settlers in the area — including a kind local doctor (Theodore Bikel) who is romantically involved with their aunt Kirsty (Adrienne Corri). Meanwhile, the boys long for a pet dog to keep them company, but settle instead for a “lost” baby (Anthony Michael Heathcoat) they find in a meadow.
This enjoyable sleeper about two orphaned brothers adjusting to a new life in Canada features a strong sense of time and place, and believable characters who we quickly grow to care for. Both Whiteley and Winter are appealing and natural in the title roles, with Winter (the younger brother) especially charismatic; their childish yet dead-serious banter together — all spoken in a strong Scottish brogue — is priceless (“Are we going to keep it forever?” “I don’t know… We’ll keep it for a year or two anyways, until it’s got a mind of its own — and then, if it wants to hit the trail, there won’t be no stopping it.”). While the boys’ gun-toting grandfather seems at first like simply an angry, self-righteous man with an iron will, several key scenes – including his interactions with the local schoolmaster (Jack Stewart), who’s ultimately even sterner than himself — reveal him to possess an innate sense of fairness and goodness, and it’s clear that his character may develop for the better. The story moves along at a leisurely but natural pace, with the key plot development (the boys’ innocent kidnapping of a baby) not occurring until more than halfway through the film; the outcome of this event — while perhaps mildly predictable — offers a satisfying resolution on every count.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vincent Winter as Davy MacKenzie
- Duncan Macrae and Jean Anderson as Davy and Harry’s
- Nice period detail
- Many memorable lines: “Don’t eat the babby, granddaddy!”
No, but it’s recommended.