Treasure Island

Film and television productions based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson:

Treasure Island (1934)
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Director Victor Fleming; writers John Lee Mahin, John Howard Lawson, Leonard Praskins; featuring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Lionel Barrymore, Nigel Bruce, Otto Kruger

Treasure Island (1950)
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Director Byron Haskin; writer Lawrence Edward Watkin; featuring Bobby Driscoll, Robert Newton, Basil Sydney, Walter Fitzgerald

Return to Treasure Island (1954)
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Director Ewald André Dupont; writers Jack Pollexfen, Aubrey Wisberg; featuring Tab Hunter, Dawn Addams

Long John Silver (1954)
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Also called Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island
Director Byron Haskin; writer Martin Rackin; featuring Robert Newton, Rod Taylor, Connie Gilchrist, Kit Taylor

The Adventures of Long John Silver (1956–1957)
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TV series: Featuring Robert Newton, Connie Gilchrist, Kit Taylor

MOVIE COMMENTARY

Long John Silver scene

Robert Newton, the man who put the Arrrh! in treasure, is back in the title role of Long John Silver.

Silver-plated island

The task of creating the legitimate sequel to Disney's 1950 Treasure Island fell to an Australian company, but with the original's director, Byron Haskin, and the inimitable Robert Newton in the title role of Long John Silver.

Perhaps "inimitable" is the wrong word, since Newton's mannerisms have been adopted for portrayals of pirates ever since—as recently as for Geoffrey Rush's Barbossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean series—though never as cunningly as in Newton's work.

This film, also confusingly called Return to Treasure Island or Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island, is however an obviously more cheaply produced followup. (Though not as cheap as the Tab Hunter effort of the same year.)

It also suffers from not being based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story. Silver hears rival pirate Mendoza has kidnapped his young friend Jim Hawkins and the daughter of a Caribbean governor. He schemes to rescue them and in the process find a second cache treasure said to be hidden on Treasure Island. Again the plot involves mutiny, marooning on the island, a defence of the stockade, hostage taking, betrayals, gunfire and swordplay. Villains include Mendoza and Silver's former mate Israel Hand (Rod Taylor), who has survived Jim shooting him earlier but was blinded.

In all this, Jim, played by newcomer Kit Taylor, is relegated to a supporting role to Long John—a reversal of the earlier film. Worse, we actually come to trust Silver in their relationship. The enigma is reduced to a puzzle. At the end the rascal's become respectable in the eyes of the local government, though he gives hints of returning to his buccaneering days.

A subplot has Silver sweet on a matron, Purity Pinker (Connie Gilchrist), although trying to escape matrimony with her. I guess Silver's "Negress" lover, referred to in Stevenson's novel, would have been too much for the times.

Long John Silver is obviously a letdown from Treasure Island, but its still offers that great, bigger-than-life character in a moderately enjoyable narrative.

— Eric

MOVIE COMMENTARY

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Long John Silver
(1954, DVD)
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Related:

Novel
Treasure Island

Author
Robert Louis Stevenson

Movies
Kidnapped

Movies
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

See also:

Novel
Robinson Crusoe

Movies
Robinson Crusoe

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Treasure Island
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Kidnapped
(1971, DVD)
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