Today In Disney History ~ March 21st
Escape to Witch Mountain is a science fiction novel written by Alexander H. Key in 1968. It was adapted into a film of the same name by Walt Disney Productions in 1975, directed by John Hough. A remake directed by Peter Rader was released in 1995. Race to Witch Mountain, a new telling directed by Andy Fickman, opened theatrically March 13, 2009.
In 1975, Walt Disney Productions released a film based on the novel, also called Escape to Witch Mountain. In this film, Tony and Tia were played by Ike Eisenmann and Kim Richards, Lucas Deranian by Donald Pleasence, and the children’s Uncle Bené (whom they believe to have drowned in a long-ago accident) by Denver Pyle. The film replaces the inner-city priest Father O’Day with Jason O’Day (played by Eddie Albert), a widower traveling in an RV who helps Tony and Tia escape their pursuers. Both Tia and Tony are able to speak out loud in the film, but Tony is not capable of Tia’s seemingly telepathic speech. A new major character in the film who is not in the novel is millionaire Aristotle Bolt (Ray Milland), Deranian’s employer, who wants to obtain the children’s powers. This change was due to the passage of time between writings: Key wrote the novel during the depths of the Cold War, so his Deranian was a Communist agent; by the time the screenplay was being written, greedy capitalists had become the preferred villains of fiction.
The film was one of Disney’s most successful live-action films. It was followed by two sequels, the theatrically released Return from Witch Mountain (1978) and the 60-minute television film Beyond Witch Mountain (1982). Director Hough returned for Return, as did Eisenmann, Richards, and Pyle, but new villains Letha Wedge (Bette Davis) and Dr. Victor Gannon (Christopher Lee) took the place of Bolt and Deranian. The characters of Bolt, Deranian, and O’Day returned in Beyond Witch Mountain, but director Hough did not return, and no actor returned to their roles, except for Albert. Beyond was intended as a television pilot, but the proposed series did not occur.
Eisenmann and Richards again played siblings in the otherwise unrelated Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell.
TMSM Today in Graphic by Sherry Rinaldi DeHart; Wiki
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