Friday, December 26, 2008

Escape to Witch Mountain

This has to be one of my favorite childhood films. Escape to Witch Mountain is a 1975 Disney film based on a book by Alexander Key (book cover images below). I am guessing I saw the film on TV on the Wonderful World of Disney TV program that ran opposite 60 minutes so it was always a battle with my parents to be allowed to watch "our show." This was back when we had to turn the antenna on the top of the house to tune in one of our four main TV channels.

I read Key's book AFTER seeing the film and right now I really can't remember the book or any of its differences from the film.

Tony and Tia Castaway with Winkie and Mr. O'Day

Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia (Kim Richards) are orphaned children who are placed in a juvenile center after their foster mother Mrs. Malone dies. They possess paranormal abilities. Tia can communicate using only her mind; she does this to speak to Tony and to animals and unlock doors with her mind.

One of the best scenes is when the kids are presented a puppet playset and Tony is able to make them work using his music. Using his harmonica he can access his powers of telekinesis and it both entertains them and saves them when they are locked up in the jail and he distracts the officer by creating a dancing coat rack that frightens the man into a corner.

Pictured here is Tia's "star case" with its hidden map the kids just discovered. They've been suppressing memories about their past and Tia begins to remember an Uncle Bene and a shipwreck of some kind. She remembers being rescued and that other people drowned. They use the map to flee the baddies who are chasing them for their powers and Mr. O'Day (Eddie Albert) is instrumental in helping them get there. One of the main bad guys is devilishly familiar now that I've seen all the James Bond films--Donald Pleasance plays Mr. Deranian.
Interesting fact I learned while creating this post:
Kim Richards is Paris Hilton's aunt.

In 2009, a new version of the film will release. I am not sure how I feel about this. Certainly it will NOT be as good as the beloved favorite from my youth. Heck, the beloved favorite seen today isn't as good as it was in my youth. Things rarely are. But I really did enjoy watching the 1975 version about a week ago at the gym. I barely noticed all the exercise I was getting while running on the treadmill. I was too captivated by the film as it aired on TCM. I didn't stick around to watch the sequel Return from Witch Mountain which introduces new bad guys--notably Bette Davis and Christopher Lee. I am guessing I will watch this 2009 movie when it makes its way to DVD.

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