Directed by Byron Haskin
Produced by Perce Pearce
Written by Lawrence Edward Watkin
Starring Bobby Driscoll
Music by Clifton Parker
Cinematography Freddie Young
Editing by Alan Jaggs
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date(s) July 19, 1950
Running time 96 minutes
“Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!” Treasure Island was Walt Disney’s first wholly live action film and it is a beauty me hearties. Unlike Disney live action films that followed, Treasure Island does not feature any light-hearted comic relief moments, it is just a faithful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel.
Treasure Island is a rip-roaring swashbuckling pirate movie, but it primarily the story of young Jim Hawkins, played here by Disney’s first child star Bobby Driscoll. Driscoll’s performance is fine, although his American accent is initially a bit annoying, as are some of his weird facial contortions and expressions.
The star of the film is of course Robert Newton who plays the opportunist scoundrel pirate Long John Silver. Newton’s enjoyable performance gives the one-legged rogue a lot of charm, and whilst he is a villain, it is hard to dislike someone who is just so darn likeable. Long John is a bit of a conundrum as while he leads a mutiny and puts Hawkins’s life in danger, he has an affection for the boy and protects him from the other cutthroats, even though he makes it quite clear that the only real loyalty he has is to himself. He really is a fun character and it is clear that Newton is enjoying himself throughout the film.
Treasure Island is a lot of fun to watch. While it is a lot more serious than some of Disney’s later live action productions it is a good and enjoyable film to watch.
* The film must have been successful, at least in Australia, as an Aussie made non-Disney sequel followed in 1954 with Newton reprising his role as the iconic pirate Long John Silver. This will be coming to DVD on February 10th. A TV series also followed.
*Considering it’s popularity in Australia, it is surprising to see that Treasure Island was not released in this country until 15 February 1951, some seven months after it was released in the US.