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Treasure Island


1934, 1950, 1954, 1954, 1956–1957

Treasure Island first editionFirst edition
Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Original title
The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys

First publication
1881–1882 in magazine Young Folks

First book publication

Literature form

Literary, adventure, young adult

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 67,000 words

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

Silver-plated island

Long John Silver (1954): 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 task of creating the legitimate sequel to Disney's 1950 Treasure Islandfell 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



1934, 1950, 1954, 1954, 1956–1957