Combustible Celluloid
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With: Teddy Eccles, Theodore Bikel, Tudi Wiggins, Paul Hébert, Cosette Lee, Ralph Endersby, George Allan, Dan McIlravey, Frank Perry, Peggi Loder, Tom Harvey, Larry Reynolds, Patrick Peuvion, Gina Dick, Karen Pearson
Written by: Joanna Crawford, Jane Klove, Ted Sherdeman, based on a novel by Jean George
Directed by: James B. Clark
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/25/1969

My Side of the Mountain (1969)

1 Star (out of 4)

Moldy 'Mountain'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on the beloved children's book by Jean George, My Side of the Mountain is an absolutely dreadful film that will appeal only to grown-ups who saw it when it was new, and even then it's probably better left to happy memories than to the reality of this DVD.

The horrid child actor Teddy Eccles plays thirteen year-old Sam, a naturalist who decides to run away and live in the woods, just like his hero Henry David Thoreau (whose name he pronounces THOR-row). He plans to study and grow algae, brings his pet raccoon, makes a home in a tree and captures and trains a falcon.

The major problem with My Side of the Mountain is that the main character comes with a certain brand of unappealing arrogance; he believes he's an expert in outdoorsmanship, even though he hasn't been alive long enough to have possibly learned it all. In one scene, he tans the hide of a dead deer and makes a coat out of it, going so far as to make a needle out of a bone. (We don't actually see this process; we only hear about it in narration.)

If this thirteen year-old were to suddenly show up in Catherine Hardwicke's modern film thirteen, he would suffer regularly scheduled beatings.

On top of that, Eccles comes across as a supremely arrogant actor, a child sent to the best acting schools and believing he's the next Brando. He overplays virtually every scene, and director James B. Clark does nothing to stop him. Clark seems more interested in capturing a kind of 1960s hippie mood with his psychedelic sequences and long, lingering nature shots.

Paramount's DVD has preserved the film's lovely colors, but provides no extras.

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