Film and television productions based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson:
Director Victor Fleming; writers John Lee Mahin, John Howard Lawson, Leonard Praskins; featuring Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper, Lionel Barrymore, Nigel Bruce, Otto Kruger
Director Byron Haskin; writer Lawrence Edward Watkin; featuring Bobby Driscoll, Robert Newton, Basil Sydney, Walter Fitzgerald
Director Ewald André Dupont; writers Jack Pollexfen, Aubrey Wisberg; featuring Tab Hunter, Dawn Addams
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
Robert Newton, the man who put the Arrrh! in treasure, is back in the title role of Long John Silver.
At home with Long John Silver
Between his two feature outings as Long John Silver, Newton had hammed it up similarly as Edward Teach, the titular character of Blackbeard, the Pirate (1952). The man was born to play memorable pirates. Unfortunately he got only one more chance to chew up the ersatz British and Caribbean scenery—in twenty-six episodes of a television series.
Newton, Kit Taylor and Connie Gilchrist reprised their recent movie roles in The Adventures of Long John Silver, which was shot in Australia in 1955, I believe— before Australia even had television. It was shown in England and America in 1956 or 1957 and around the rest of the world over the next decade, as well as later in the 1980s. They might have made more if Newton hadn't died at the height of his fame in 1956.
When the baby boomers were very young, The Adventures of Long John Silver seemed like one of the most exciting things on TV, along with Zorro, Ivanhoe and Robin Hood. More intriguing than the others though, because Silver wasn't quite the hero the other leads were. Kind of a bad guy, wasn't he? Except that he chummed with good lad Jim?
Looking back at it in context now, we can see the single-season of the show continues the taming of Silver, as he develops a relationship with Purity, gives up rum in favour of (gasp!) milk, and lives with the Hawkins family in an inn. He's still a lovable rascal but no longer a cutthroat scoundrel. Yet Newton plays him with all the old panache.
The writing and direction are better than for most TV shows of the period, though anachronisms abound: a Christmas episode actually references Santa Claus, who wasn't to be invented for a century or so.
Episodes are difficult to find. Only half have been released on DVD as of this writing. The technical quality is also not great by most accounts, since the masters are not available for making true copies.
But the adventure continues, with Newton's Long John Silver at the centre, which is what any Treasure Island fan really wants.