Treasure Island (1950)

96 mins | Children's works | 29 July 1950

Director:

Byron Haskin

Producer:

Perce Pearce

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Editor:

Alan Jaggs

Production Designer:

Thomas Morahan
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HISTORY

The film's opening title cards read: "Walt Disney Presents Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island ." After the opening credits, a written prologue, "signed" by Robert Louis Stevenson, reads: "If buccaneers and buried gold and all the old romance retold exactly in the ancient way can please, as me they pleased of old, the wiser youngsters of today, so be it!" Stevenson's classic tale of adventure originally appeared as a magazine serial story in Young Folks (Oct 1881--Jan 1882) under the title The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island .
       Treasure Island , which was the first entirely live-action feature film produced by the Disney Studio, was shot on location in England. In a 5 Jun 1949 LAT article, producer Walt Disney stated, "MGM owned the rights [to Stevenson's book], but I made a deal with them on something else and got it. I was going to make it here, but the English situation was such that I decided to do it over there." According to studio publicity materials, Disney had been working on the idea for fifteen years, and had originally planned to produce the story as an animated feature. Exterior locations included Bristol, Falmouth and the Cornish Coast, while interiors were filmed in London's Denham Studios, which is listed in the onscreen credits as D & P Studios.
       As noted by a variety of contemporary sources, 80% to 90% of the production's costs were funded by "frozen" or "blocked" money made by RKO and the Disney Studio from exhibition of their pictures in Great Britain. Due to British quota laws, a percentage of the money made ... More Less

The film's opening title cards read: "Walt Disney Presents Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island ." After the opening credits, a written prologue, "signed" by Robert Louis Stevenson, reads: "If buccaneers and buried gold and all the old romance retold exactly in the ancient way can please, as me they pleased of old, the wiser youngsters of today, so be it!" Stevenson's classic tale of adventure originally appeared as a magazine serial story in Young Folks (Oct 1881--Jan 1882) under the title The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island .
       Treasure Island , which was the first entirely live-action feature film produced by the Disney Studio, was shot on location in England. In a 5 Jun 1949 LAT article, producer Walt Disney stated, "MGM owned the rights [to Stevenson's book], but I made a deal with them on something else and got it. I was going to make it here, but the English situation was such that I decided to do it over there." According to studio publicity materials, Disney had been working on the idea for fifteen years, and had originally planned to produce the story as an animated feature. Exterior locations included Bristol, Falmouth and the Cornish Coast, while interiors were filmed in London's Denham Studios, which is listed in the onscreen credits as D & P Studios.
       As noted by a variety of contemporary sources, 80% to 90% of the production's costs were funded by "frozen" or "blocked" money made by RKO and the Disney Studio from exhibition of their pictures in Great Britain. Due to British quota laws, a percentage of the money made by American film companies could not be withdrawn from the country and had to be used for production in Great Britain. To utilize the "frozen" currency due to both companies, RKO, which previously had only distributed Disney films, joined the studio as a production partner and the company "RKO Walt Disney British Productions Ltd." was formed.
       Although a 29 Mar 1949 HR news item speculated that Robert Donat would be in the cast, and a 21 Apr 1949 LAT article announced that Liam Redmond might be signed for the role of "Captain Smollett," neither actor appears in the completed picture. According to news items in English trade papers, Caven Watson was originally cast in the role of "Williams," but fell ill and was replaced by Howard Douglas. English news items also noted that the song "The Heart of a Sailor," written by Mack David and Jerry Livingston, was to be sung in the picture by Andrew Blackett, but the song does not appear in the completed film. Other contemporary sources stated that a variation of the pirate song "Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum," with special lyrics by either Marcus Dods or Lawrence Edward Watkin, was to appear in the picture, but only two lines of the song are heard in the completed film.
       The film's cast was composed entirely of actors from Great Britain except for American child actor Bobby Driscoll. The company encountered problems during production due to complicated English laws governing child labor and foreign workers. On 27 Sep 1949, a court in Beaconsfield, England declared that it was illegal for the twelve-year-old Driscoll to work in the country because he did not have the Labour Ministry permit required for foreign workers. The labor permit could not be issued, however, because Driscoll was under fourteen years of age. At the trial, Driscoll, his father and the production company were each fined £100. Although the magistrates ordered that Driscoll be prohibited from working, the film continued production while an appeal was in process. The appeals court upheld the original ruling on 25 Oct 1949, according to a contemporary article, but by then, Driscoll's work in the picture was completed. The irate appeals court judge declared that the actor, his father and the production company had "brazenly flouted British law," according to an Oct 1949 LAT item. A 26 Oct 1949 Var news item noted that the Disney Studio had spent approximately $84,000 to rearrange the shooting schedule in order to complete Driscoll's work before the appeal was heard. Driscoll left England shortly thereafter, and the rest of the company wound up production. Although contemporary news items indicate that Disney intended to return to England and feature Driscoll in a film version of "Robin Hood," Treasure Island 's production problems prompted Disney to change plans. The studio's 1952 The Story of Robin Hood , which was shot in England, did not feature Driscoll in the cast. Treasure Island was the last live-action Disney picture in which Driscoll appeared.
       According to a Jun 1950 article in the English trade paper Daily Film Renter , Treasure Island was to have its "ocean premiere" during the Queen Mary 's trans-Atlantic crossing beginning 1 Jul 1950, and would also be shown aboard the Queen Elizabeth until 27 Jul 1950. HR news items indicate that the picture opened in a number of "key" U.S. cities on 19 Jul 1950. The extensive advertising campaign for the picture included a nationwide treasure hunt for which the studio provided merchandise, contained in treasure chests that could be "opened" by numbered pasteboard keys printed in local newspapers or carried by local drug and department stores. The publicity stunt encompassed more than 300 merchants in 40 cities, according to a 9 Aug 1950 Var article, and approximately $250,000 was given away in prizes. In England, a BBC radio serialization of the story was presented in Jun and Jul 1950, and featured narration by Driscoll and excerpts of the film's soundtrack. A Sep 1952 NYT news item reported that the film had been "banned for children" in Sweden because of "excessive violence," but no information about any Swedish ban was found in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library.
       According to a Dec 1954 NYT article, the film's ship the Hispaniola , was used again as the Pequod in the 1956 Warner Bros. production of Moby Dick . The ship, which was originally known as the Rylands , had been used for almost a hundred years as a coal runner and carrier of other cargo. After the filming of Treasure Island , the ship was docked at Scarborough, England and kept as a tourist attraction until it was used for Moby Dick .
       Driscoll recreated his role for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of Treasure Island on 29 Jan 1951 with James Mason co-starring as "Long John Silver." When the film was theatrically re-issued in 1975, the MPAA ordered several minor cuts of "violence" so that the picture could receive a G rating, although the scenes were restored for the film's subsequent release on home video. Stevenson's book has been adapted for motion pictures a number of times, including the 1917 Fox version, directed by C. M. Franklin and S. A. Franklin, with stars Francis Carpenter and Violet Radcliffe, and the 1920 Famous Players-Lasky version, which was directed by Maurice Tourneur and starred Charles Ogle and Shirley Mason (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.4550 and F1.4551). In 1934, Victor Fleming directed Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper in the well-regarded M-G-M production (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.4759). In 1954, actor Robert Newton and director Byron Haskin re-teamed for the Australian film Long John Silver , and Newton subsequently starred in an Australian television series, The Adventures of Long John Silver , in 1955. Orson Welles adapted the novel for his Mercury Theatre radio program in 1938 and also appeared in a 1972 British-made film of the story, directed by John Hough. A television movie of the novel, broadcast in 1990, was directed by Fraser Heston and starred his father, Charlton Heston. In 1996, Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Tim Curry took to the high seas in the Touchstone release Muppet Treasure Island , which was directed by Brian Henson. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Oct 1949.
---
Box Office
1-Jul-50
---
Box Office
9 Sep 1950.
---
California Eagle
24 Nov 1949.
---
Cue
15 Jul 1950.
---
Daily Film Renter
28 Jun 1950.
---
Daily Variety
26 Apr 1949.
---
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1949.
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1950.
---
Daily Variety
21 Jun 50
p. 3, 6
Daily Variety
12 May 1975.
---
Evening Standard (London)
1 Nov 1949.
---
Film Daily
22 Jun 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 49
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 49
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 49
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jul 49
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 49
p. 21.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 49
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Oct 49
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 49
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 50
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 50
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 50
p. 4.
Kinematograph Weekly
27 Oct 49
p. 9.
Kinematograph Weekly
15 Dec 49
pp. 51-54.
Kinematograph Weekly
8 Jun 1950.
---
Kinematograph Weekly
15 Jun 1950.
---
Kinematograph Weekly
6 Jul 50
p. 21.
Life
14 Aug 1950.
---
Look
18 Jul 1950.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
10 Sep 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Apr 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Apr 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 49
p. 1, 8
Los Angeles Times
28 Sep 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Sep 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Oct 1949.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Aug 1950.
---
Motion Picture Daily
4 May 1949.
---
Motion Picture Daily
1 Nov 1949.
---
Motion Picture Daily
21 Jun 1950.
---
Motion Picture Herald
10 Jul 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald
8 Oct 1949.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jun 1950.
p. 353.
New York Herald Tribune
11 Sep 1949.
---
New York Herald Tribune
30 Oct 1949.
---
New York Times
26 Oct 1949.
---
New York Times
1 Jan 1950.
---
New York Times
16 Aug 1950.
p. 24.
New York Times
20 Aug 1950.
---
New York Times
21 Sep 1952.
---
New York Times
5 Dec 1954.
---
San Francisco Chronicle
14 Aug 1950.
---
The Cinema
2 Aug 1950.
---
The Cinema Studio
31 Aug 49
pp. 9-11.
The Cinema Studio
14 Sep 1949.
---
The Cinema Studio
5 Oct 1949.
---
The Cinema Studio
12 Oct 1949.
---
The Cinema Studio
26 Oct 49
p. 3, 10
The Cinema Studio
16 Nov 49
pp. 13-14.
The San Francisco Examiner
9 Nov 1949.
---
Variety
26 Oct 1949.
---
Variety
24 May 1940.
p. 5, 22.
Variety
21 Jun 1950.
p. 8.
Variety
9 Aug 1950.
---
Varsity
Sep 1950.
p. 36.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
Loc dir
Loc dir
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
Loc cam
Loc cam
Loc cam op
Focus puller
Asst focus puller
Asst focus puller
Cam grip
Cam grip
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst
Asst
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Scenic art dept supv
Prop master
Prop supv
Props
Props
Props
Props
Props
Props
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Cost des
Cost
Cost
SOUND
Sd tech
Boom op
Boom op
Maintenance
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte artist
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdressing supv
Wigs
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
Unit hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Cont
Studio prod mgr
Cutlass instructor
Nautical adv
Casting dir
Period research
Chief electrician
Clapper boy
Crane op
Crane op
Denham constr mgr
Constr mgr
Carpenters supv
Painters supv
Head plasterer
Carpenter
Painter
Plasterer
STAND INS
Stand-in for Bobby Driscoll
Stand-in for Robert Newton
Stand-in for Robert Newton
Stand-in for Geoffrey Keen and John Laurie
Stand-in for David Davies
Stand-in for Denis O'Dea
Stand-in for Denis O'Dea
Stand-in for Denis O'Dea
Stand-in for Walter Fitzgerald
Swimming double for Walter Fitzgerald
Stand-in for Basil Sydney
Stand-in for Ralph Truman
Stand-in for Francis de Wolff
Stand-in for Francis de Wolff
Stand-in for Finlay Currie
Stand-in for Geoffrey Wilkinson
Stand-in for Stephen Jack
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1883).
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 July 1950
Premiere Information:
London opening: 22 June 1950
Production Date:
4 July--11 November 1949 at D & P Studios, England
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
2 May 1950
Copyright Number:
LP1598
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
96
Length(in feet):
8,615
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
14196
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1765, young Jim Hawkins lives with his widowed mother in the Admiral Benbow Inn on the west coast of England. Jim is friends with ailing pirate Capt. Billy Bones and is alarmed when sinister strangers Black Dog and Blind Pew threaten Bones. Knowing that his former shipmates are coming after him, Bones cautions Jim about a one-legged man and gives him the treasure map he stole from notorious pirate Flint. When Jim goes for help and returns with Dr. Livesy and Squire Trelawney, they chase away some men searching the tavern, then discover that Bones is dead. Jim shows the map to his friends, and the thrilled Trelawney plans a sea voyage to search for the treasure. In Bristol, Trelawny hires Captain Smollett to sail their ship, the Hispaniola , but unwittingly endangers the mission by hiring Long John Silver, a seemingly honest sailor, as the ship's cook. The grizzled veteran is actually the one-legged pirate of whom Bones was afraid, and Jim is upset when he meets Silver. Impatient with Smollett's hiring methods, Trelawny allows Silver to hire his own friends and the voyage commences. Suspicious, Smollett keeps the guns locked away, but the charming Silver wins Jim's confidence. Silver begins his scheme to commandeer the ship by getting first mate Mr. Arrow drunk and tossing him overboard during a storm, and later, Jim overhears the mutineers discussing their plans. After he hears Silver, who was Flint's quartermaster, urge his men to wait until Smollett has set the course, Jim warns the captain. Smollett asks Jim to remain friends with Silver to be privy to his plans, and Jim ... +


In 1765, young Jim Hawkins lives with his widowed mother in the Admiral Benbow Inn on the west coast of England. Jim is friends with ailing pirate Capt. Billy Bones and is alarmed when sinister strangers Black Dog and Blind Pew threaten Bones. Knowing that his former shipmates are coming after him, Bones cautions Jim about a one-legged man and gives him the treasure map he stole from notorious pirate Flint. When Jim goes for help and returns with Dr. Livesy and Squire Trelawney, they chase away some men searching the tavern, then discover that Bones is dead. Jim shows the map to his friends, and the thrilled Trelawney plans a sea voyage to search for the treasure. In Bristol, Trelawny hires Captain Smollett to sail their ship, the Hispaniola , but unwittingly endangers the mission by hiring Long John Silver, a seemingly honest sailor, as the ship's cook. The grizzled veteran is actually the one-legged pirate of whom Bones was afraid, and Jim is upset when he meets Silver. Impatient with Smollett's hiring methods, Trelawny allows Silver to hire his own friends and the voyage commences. Suspicious, Smollett keeps the guns locked away, but the charming Silver wins Jim's confidence. Silver begins his scheme to commandeer the ship by getting first mate Mr. Arrow drunk and tossing him overboard during a storm, and later, Jim overhears the mutineers discussing their plans. After he hears Silver, who was Flint's quartermaster, urge his men to wait until Smollett has set the course, Jim warns the captain. Smollett asks Jim to remain friends with Silver to be privy to his plans, and Jim reluctantly agrees. When the ship reaches Flint's island, Silver and some of his men, accompanied by Jim, board a longboat to go ashore. The mutiny is begun prematurely by Silver's confederate, George Merry, but the mutineers aboard the Hispaniola are captured by the captain's men. Silver demands the map in exchange for Jim, but the resourceful youngster escapes. On the island, Jim meets Ben Gunn, a crazed castaway who was marooned by Silver during Flint's voyage to the island five years previously. After locking the mutineers in the hold, Smollett goes ashore with some men to rescue Jim. The men occupy an old stockade, but during their absence, Silver's pirates capture the Hispaniola and Silver takes over as captain. Jim, who has been led to the stockade by Ben, watches as Silver comes to the stronghold and promises to send help eventually if Smollett turns over the treasure map. Smollett refuses, and a bloody gunfight begins. Silver shoots and wounds Smollett, and that night, a worried Livesy gives Jim the map and orders him to buy his life with it if necessary. Hearing Smollett state that they must beach the Hispaniola , Jim uses Ben's small boat to row up to the large ship. Pirate Israel Hands spots Jim, however, and chases the terrified boy up the rigging, then stabs him in the shoulder. Jim shoots Hands with his pistol and the pirate falls to his death in the water below. Jim then runs the Hispaniola aground and returns to the stockade, but there finds Silver, who takes the map when the boy faints from terror. Silver refuses to allow Merry to kill Jim, insisting that they need the boy as a hostage, although he does not reveal to his conspirators that he has the map. Worried about Jim's injury, Silver tries to summon Livesy, but the other pirates, suspicious of Silver's motives, vote to depose him. Silver refuses to step down and instead allows Livesy to tend to Jim. Silver, who thinks that Smollett's men have regained the Hispaniola , vows to protect Jim in exchange for being spared from the gallows upon their return to England. Livesy promises to help Silver, and Jim stays with him as Silver turns over the map to his pirates. The pirates then locate Flint's chest, but suspect that Silver has double-crossed them when they find only one coin. Livesy and his men arrive while the pirates are fighting and succeed in taking control. They then learn that Ben had dug up Flint's gold and taken it to his cave, and there Jim pleads with Smollett to spare Silver's life. Smollett agrees to return the pirate to England for trial, but when they row to the Hispaniola with the gold, Silver gets Jim's pistol and makes all but Jim jump off the longboat. Crushed, Jim steers them aground and will not shove off even though Silver threatens to shoot him. The old pirate, who genuinely cares for the boy, cannot shoot him, however, and tries in vain to free the boat as the crew approaches. Realizing that Silver is indeed his friend, Jim pushes the boat off and helps the pirate to escape, then watches as Silver sails away. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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