Escape to Witch Mountain (1975) – John Hough

I have this image of Eddie Albert driving every where in a Winnebago, and I guess it must have come from this film, and somehow got meshed with the image of the older man driving around in a similar RV in the Shazam/Isis hour. And despite the fact that Eddie Albert’s Jason does a lot of driving in this film, it doesn’t mesh with all the stories in my memory.

I don’t think I had seen Escape to Witch Mountain since its theatrical release, unless I caught part of it on a Wonderful World of Disney growing up. And for its age, the story is actually pretty engaging, boasts a solid cast, and most of its special effects are decent (even when you can see the wires).

Tony (Ike Eisenmann) and Tia’s (Kim Richards) foster parents have died, and they are being turned over to an orphanage, where their behavior, and surprising abilities ostracize them a bit from the other children. That’s the big thing, not a lot of people are wowed, frightened or awestruck when their abilities show, there’s momentary fear, but then the story, and the characters carry on.

When they save the life of Deranian (Donald Pleasance), he shows up at the orphanage, posing as an uncle, so that he can take them away to Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), a powerful, dangerous man, who wants to use their abilities to further his own wealth.

While Tia’s distant memories begin to resurface, the pair decide to escape from Bolt and Deranian, despite the gilded cage he keeps them in.

Able to communicate with animals, and manipulate objects, as well as share a telepathy, the pair are on the run for only a few minutes before they hide out in Jason’s RV with their cat, Winky, and soon find themselves following a hidden map, that could lead them home.

As the trio work to escape from Deranian and Bolt, the children slowly begin to recall who they really are, and where they are really from.

I have to remind myself that this is a family film, has a set run time, and has to make things menacing and dangerous but not too scary, and if you take all of those into account, it’s actually an enjoyable film from the Mouse House, and inspired a sequel, Return From With Mountain, that I’ll take a look at soon.

This is one of those films that, growing up, the whole family would enjoy. The adults would enjoy recognizing the well-known actors in their supporting roles, and the kids would want to be Tony and Tia. It’s light, harmless, and is a fun adventure, with a great opening credit sequence and interesting themes in a score written by Johnny Mandel.

I’ve never read the novel by Alexander Key, have any of you?

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