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Kidnapped

Kidnapped(1938)

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The film's credits open with a picture of Robert Louis Stevenson lying in bed writing. The screen credit for the title reads, "Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped: The Adventures of David Balfour." The film was reviewed under the title Kidnapped. According to news items, Twentieth Century-Fox writers were working on the treatment in March 1937, but it was shelved until the end of November 1937. According to Hollywood Reporter, Alfred Werker replaced Otto Preminger as director at the end of the second week of filming while Preminger went to work on an original story with a foreign locale. In his autobiography, Preminger recounts that he was surprised when, after having directed only two films in Hollywood, he was assigned to Kidnapped, a big budget film. Preminger, who was not familiar with the book, read the script and complained to his friend, Gregory Ratoff, who was acting as Zanuck's assistant, that he did not want to direct the film because he had no understanding of the people in the part of the world where the story took place. Ratoff, however, persuaded him to accept. When Zanuck saw some of the rushes, he accused Preminger of cutting out a portion of the script without permission. During a heated argument, Preminger denied the charge, and when Zanuck yelled at him, Preminger yelled back. Preminger subsequently refused to apologize, and, according to the autobiography, because of the incident, he was prevented from working in Hollywood. He returned to stage direction and did not direct another film until 1943. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, in March 1938, near the end of shooting, both Arleen Whelan and Werker were forced to leave the set because of the flu, and assistant director Booth McCracken filled in as director.
       Reviewers disagreed concerning liberties taken with the source material: New York Times called the film "a flagrant case of literary vandalism," while Film Daily noted that "the best of each [of the Stevenson novels] have been maintained." This was Arleen Whelan's first film; Twentieth Century-Fox generated considerable publicity about her before the film's release. According to a Los Angeles Times news item in May 1937, Douglas Scott was originally set to play the role of "David Balfour." While the screen credits list Arthur Lange with musical direction, a pressbook for the film at the AMPAS library credits Louis Silvers; Silvers' participation has not been confirmed. The pressbook also notes that the elaborate Scottish village set was erected in Laurel Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. According to a modern source, the swords used in the film were from the collection of Ralph Forbes, who played the character "James," and had once been owned by Rudolph Valentino and used in his films. Another modern source noted that author Henry James once called Alan Breck "the most perfect character in English literature." Other films based on the same source include a 1948 Monogram release starring Roddy McDowell and Dan O'Herlihy, directed by William Beaudine; a 1960 Walt Disney production, directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Peter Finch and James MacArthur; and a 1971 American International Pictures, directed by Delbart Mann and starring Michael Caine and Lawrence Douglas.