Matt’s Walt Disney Pictures Live-Action Reviews: Treasure Island

Treasure Island

Released on June 22, 1950 (World Premiere- London) July 29, 1950 (US)

Budget: $1,800,000

Box Office: $4,100,000

Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Robert Newton, Basil Sydney, & Walter Fitzgerald

Director: Byron Haskin

Plot: Jim Hawkins comes in possession of a Pirate Treasure Map that was made by an infamous pirate called Captain Flint.  With the help of Squire Trelawney, Hawkins sets sail to find the buried treasure.  Along the way he befriends a cabin hand named Long John Silver, who also wants to find the Treasure by any means necessary.  

Final Thoughts:  This is Walt Disney’s first foray into all Live Action movies.  Disney did release two movies prior to this with part live and part animated aspects to it (Song of the South in 1946 and So Dear to My Heart in 1948).  But, this was the first movie that was entirely Live Action.  Walt did originally want to put some animation into this movie by including a sequence involving a fox character called Reynard.  This later became the basis for the animated film Robin Hood.  Another fun fact about this movie was that it was made in England, only because of postwar restrictions that prevented Walt Disney from transferring the profits he made on his cartoons in England to the United States.  So those profits wouldn’t go to waste he made this movie in England. 

This movie is based on the book of the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Though I have never read the book, from what I have seen this movie follows the book pretty closely.  I can see why Walt Disney wanted to make it.  It involves pirates and buried treasure, all while going on this great adventure into the unknown.  You would only have to look at any of the Walt Disney parks to see how much Walt Disney loved this sort of thing (just go on Pirates of the Caribbean).  One of the things I noticed throughout this movie is that there was no women in it (besides some extras).  I found this to be a bit odd, especially living in today’s world where this would not stand.  But in the book, there are no female roles.  That is why Walt Disney didn’t have any women in this movie.  Not saying that is right, but I would be remiss if I didn’t bring this up.  

One of the best characters in this movie is obviously Long John Silver who is played by Robert Newton.  If you want to call someone being type casted for playing a role, Newton should be the definition.  Not to say it’s a bad thing it’s not, because he is really great for this role.  He would go on to play Long John Silver in two other films (Long John Silver in 1954 and The Adventures of Long John Silver in 1955).  Newton, made Long John both likeable and despised at the same time.  You know going into the movie that he is the villain, but at the same time cannot help but like him.  This role is probably the only role that is central to the whole story.  If you don’t have a great actor playing it, you might as well not make the movie.  This is just my opinion though.  

This movie overall was a fun watch though shorter than I would of liked it to be. Adventure movies to me at least need to be 2 hours, otherwise you are rushing it.  Though probably the main reason for the shortness of this movie was that Bobby Driscoll who was the only American actor in this movie could only get a 3 month working visa.  So they had to shoot this movie out of order to ensure that they got everything they needed from him.  If you are a fan of film history like I am this is an important movie to watch just for the mere fact that it was Walt Disney’s first foray into live action and if this didn’t go well who knows what the future might have held for them.  

Final Grade: 3 out of 5

Next Movie: The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)

Author: Matt Rotella

Leave a Reply