JR's take: This is Disney's version of a Conrad Richter tale about a white boy reared by Native Americans, and forced to return to the white man's world. It's much better than it sounds; actually, it's quite engrossing, and fairly free of stereotypes. Carol, in her debut, is perfect as the virginal indentured-servant girl Shenandoe. And at fifteen, she's already startlingly seductive.
Keep an eye on The Disney Channel for a "Mickey Mouse Club" show featuring Carol plugging The Light in the Forest. See Television for details.
This surprisingly absorbing drama, based on Conrad Richter's novel, tells the tale of the re-assimilation of Johnny Butler, kidnapped as a child by Native Americans (in this 1958 film, of course, called Indians), into the "white man's world." Reluctant and unfamiliar with his biological parents (Jessica Tandy and Frank Ferguson), he's befriended by frontiersman Del Hardy (Fess Parker, basically looking handsome and playing his popular image), also raised by the Indians and now an Army man. Johnny also meets and fancies Shenandoe — his aunt and nasty uncle's indentured servant girl, (a positively luminescent Carol Lynley, 16, in her first role), whose family was massacred by another tribe.
While this is an action film set in 1764, made in the still politically insensitive 1950s, it manages not to paint stereotypes. But Light in the Forest is, more than anything, a love story. Shenandoe, terrified of Johnny initially, grows to love him. Johnny, burdened by not feeling he belongs in either world, finds solace in Shenandoe's sweet friendship. - N.F. Mendoza, © Amazon.com. Used with permission.