Film Review: The Incredible Journey

Updated on January 19, 2018
Film Frenzy profile image

Written by: Jason Wheeler, Film Frenzy Senior Writer & Editor.


In 1963, Fletcher Markle released The Incredible Journey, based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Sheila Burnford. Starring Emile Genest, John Drainie, Sandra Scott, Marion Finlayson, Ronald Cohoon, Tommy Tweed, Robert Christie, Beth Lockerbie, Pat Carroll, Eric Clavering, Jan Rubeš, Syme Jago, Muffy the Bull Terrier, Rink the Labrador Retriever and Syn Cat the Siamese cat, the film grossed $4.2 million at the box office.


When James Hunter is offered a visiting fellowship at Oxford University, he and his family leave their two dogs and cat in the care of family friend John Longridge. After a few days, he leaves for the opening day of duck hunting season and puts them in the care of his housekeeper and her husband. Soon Luath, the younger dog, sees geese returning home and wants to do the same. When he leaves, Bodger, the older dog and Tao the cat follow after.


The Incredible Journey is not a good film. What should be a film detailing a harrowing adventure between three pets is boring and unenjoyable to watch. One aspect to this is the narration prevalent throughout the film. It does nothing but distract from what is happening on screen, not letting the audience see what’s going on and make connections for themselves. Multiple times there is action happening right in front of the viewer and the narration surrounds it, talking about what’s happening, why it’s happening, why the end result happened and what is probably going to happen next. The film fails in assuming the audience is not smart enough to pick up on the action without someone spelling it out, taking the concept of “show, don’t tell” and abandoning it in favor of the complete opposite. The end result makes the film feel like a nature documentary rather than a fictional feature.

Moreover, the plot is convoluted and terrible, with so many different actions happening to ensure the animals are in the right place to begin a journey home. The Hunter family can’t bring them along to England so they leave them in the care of a family friend. He’s happy to take care of them until he realizes he can’t take them hunting so he leaves them in the care of his housekeeper. Yet, he doesn’t wait for her to show up and properly explain. Instead he opts to write a note to her, half of which conveniently falls in the fireplace. These are all contrived circumstances meant to get the animals alone and for Luath to watch geese flying home and wanting the same. None of it feels believable in any way. Furthermore, the narration gives the effect of someone knowing what ends up happening to the animals and eradicates any possible tension. This can be seen in one scene where a bear is attacking one of the dogs and the other two rear up to defend their friend. On its own, it would be worth watching and worth investing in emotionally. However, the narration takes the situation and talks about what’s happening in the exact same monotonous tone it’s had the entire time. As such, it gives the impression this scene has nothing special or interesting for the viewer.

In addition, there is no good acting to be found in the film. All the dialogue coming from the adults is wooden and stilted or comes off as if they are reading their lines somewhere off screen. It is obvious this is the first film Carroll acted in as Mrs. Oakes the housekeeper. None of what she says has any feeling behind the words and feels as if she hadn’t read the script prior to filming. As for the children, they seem to be under the impression acting means looking into the camera and screaming as loud as possible. The final scene during Peter’s birthday party is particularly egregious as Cohoon continuously yells out every line of dialogue the whole time. Not only is it off-putting, it creates a feeling of hope for the film to end as soon as possible.

Still, the film is not completely unwatchable as the nature and scenery is interesting to look at. When the narration and other acting becomes unbearable to hear, looking at the scenery in which the animals are traversing helps to make the film easier to take in.

1 star for The Incredible Journey


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      2 years ago from Norfolk, England

      Oh dear! This doesn't sound very good at all! I've never heard of this film before.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)