In Search of the Castaways (1962)

Genres - Adventure, Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure  |   Release Date - Dec 21, 1962 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

The opening credits of In Search of the Castaways tell the audience that this is a "fantasy adventure," and that turns out to be pretty accurate. The fantasy label at least prepares the viewer for some of the larger credibility gaps that pop up along the way. Those that deal with plot points (e.g., the unbelievably fortunate timing of a waterspout that douses a deadly fire, the ability of one character to immediately determine how to make a volcano erupt) are somehow more palatable than the ridiculously carefree manner with which the characters greet such dangerous situations as an earthquake atop a mountain ledge or the resulting slide down an icy slope. Fortunately, the film has some genuine thrills that more than make up for the silliness (and cutesiness) that runs through the script. The quality of the special effects is variable; there are some very poor matte shots involving various people running from one disaster or another, but there are also some quite convincing (and at times breathtaking) effects. Castaways has a lovely cast, with Hayley Mills in fine form, whether falling in love or falling down a slope. If Maurice Chevalier and Wilfrid Hyde-White go over the top, they still have charm, and George Sanders's understatement counteracts them nicely. In smaller roles, Antonio Cifariello and Wilfrid Brambell make strong impressions as a stolid Indian and a not-so-crazy lunatic. Advances in screen technology may have reduced Castaways' impact, but most children will still find it entertaining -- as will those parents willing to meet it halfway.