Treasure of Matecumbe (1976)

G | 116 mins | Adventure | 4 August 1976

Director:

Vincent McEveety

Writer:

Don Tait

Producer:

Bill Anderson

Cinematographer:

Frank Phillips

Production Designer:

Robert Clatworthy

Production Company:

Walt Disney Productions
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HISTORY

The 27 May 1963 HR announced the purchase by Walt Disney Productions of the film rights to the 1961 Robert Lewis Taylor adventure novel, A Journey to Matecumbe. Writer A. J. Carothers was assigned to write the screen adaptation. Three years later, the 31 May 1966 HR reported that the project, renamed Treasure of Matecumbe, was scheduled to begin production early 1967. The film was to be co-produced by Bill Anderson, directed by Michael O’Herlihy and would star actor Kurt Russell. Another three years passed before the 3 Apr 1969 DV announced Disney’s plans to resume the project. Bill Anderson was still producing, but screenplay duties had been reassigned to Paul Savage. However, the project remained in limbo until the 13 Aug 1975 Var reported that principal photography would begin Oct 1975 with Peter Ustinov in a starring role. According to the 27 Oct 1975 Box, filming began 20 Oct 1975 in Danville, KY, before moving to subsequent locations in Orlando, FL, and Sacramento, CA, with Vincent McEveety taking over as director.
       Publicity materials in AMPAS library production files stated that Treasure of Matecumbe marked the screen debut of stage and television actor Robert Foxworth, and the return to film by actress Jane Wyatt after a ten-year absence. The plantation house used in the opening scenes was located outside of Danville, on the farm of Zack and Nancy Ison. McEveety chose to film in the region because the landscape had experienced few changes since the late 18th century. The scenes depicting ...

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The 27 May 1963 HR announced the purchase by Walt Disney Productions of the film rights to the 1961 Robert Lewis Taylor adventure novel, A Journey to Matecumbe. Writer A. J. Carothers was assigned to write the screen adaptation. Three years later, the 31 May 1966 HR reported that the project, renamed Treasure of Matecumbe, was scheduled to begin production early 1967. The film was to be co-produced by Bill Anderson, directed by Michael O’Herlihy and would star actor Kurt Russell. Another three years passed before the 3 Apr 1969 DV announced Disney’s plans to resume the project. Bill Anderson was still producing, but screenplay duties had been reassigned to Paul Savage. However, the project remained in limbo until the 13 Aug 1975 Var reported that principal photography would begin Oct 1975 with Peter Ustinov in a starring role. According to the 27 Oct 1975 Box, filming began 20 Oct 1975 in Danville, KY, before moving to subsequent locations in Orlando, FL, and Sacramento, CA, with Vincent McEveety taking over as director.
       Publicity materials in AMPAS library production files stated that Treasure of Matecumbe marked the screen debut of stage and television actor Robert Foxworth, and the return to film by actress Jane Wyatt after a ten-year absence. The plantation house used in the opening scenes was located outside of Danville, on the farm of Zack and Nancy Ison. McEveety chose to film in the region because the landscape had experienced few changes since the late 18th century. The scenes depicting the Mississippi River were filmed on the Sacramento River, north of Colusa, CA, and cypress swamps near Kissimmee, FL, substituted for the Everglades. An actual FL rainforest, inhabited by a Seminole tribe, was used in the hurricane scene, and the final scenes were filmed at the beach in Walt Disney World.
       Treasure of Matecumbe opened to generally positive reviews, although several criticized the use of a “process screen” in many of the exterior scenes. The 7 Jul 1976 Var also noted the anachronistic presence of a 20th-century Dixieland band in 1869.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Oct 1975
---
Box Office
26 Jul 1976
---
Daily Variety
3 Apr 1969
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1963
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 1966
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1975
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1976
p. 2
Los Angeles Times
27 Oct 1975
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1976
p. 1
New York Times
28 Aug 1976
p. 11
Variety
7 Jul 1976
p. 16
Variety
13 Aug 1975
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.
Walt Disney Productions Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Paul "Tiny" Nichols
Unit prod mgr/Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
John B. Mansbridge
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Cost des by
MUSIC
SOUND
Herb Taylor
Sd supv
Sd mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book A Journey to Matecumbe by Robert Lewis Taylor (New York, 1961).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
MUSIC
"Matecumbe" by Richard McKinley and Shane Tatum, performed by Bahler, Olsson, Murray and Haas.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A Journey to Matecumbe
Release Date:
4 August 1976
Premiere Information:
St. Petersburg, FL screening: 9 Jul 1976; Los Angeles opening: 4 Aug 1976; New York opening: 27 Aug 1976
Production Date:
began 20 Oct 1975
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
6 July 1976
LP46501
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Photophone Sound Recording
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
116
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In 1869 Kentucky, Ben Woods is pursued by two men as he runs toward “Grassy,” the plantation owned by his late employer, Captain Clay Burnie. At the entrance to the house, young Davie Burnie and his two elderly guardians, Aunt Effie and Aunt Lou, are approached by Sheriff Coffey and a man named Catrell, who accuse Ben of being a thief. Aunt Effie assures them that she has not seen Ben since the Civil War, and challenges Catrell’s accusation. As the men leave, Sheriff Coffey reminds the Burnies that they are facing eviction. That night, Ben tells the Burnies about a chest of gold the captain buried in a forest near White Water Cove in Florida, to hide it from his nemesis, a “yankee” gunboat captain named Spangler. Ben seeks the help of the captain’s vagabond brother, Jim, to retrieve the treasure. While Ben and the Burnies study the captain’s map, Spangler and his men, including Catrell, crash through the front door. Ben escapes with the map, as Davie’s friend, Thad, watches from outside. Ben is shot in the back, and as he lay dying, he gives the map to Davie and Thad. With Spangler in pursuit, the two boys escape in a rowboat on the Mississippi River, as Spangler watches from the riverbank. The next day, the boys are ensconced among the livestock on a riverboat to Friar’s Point, Mississippi, Jim Burnie’s last known residence. Although Jim is considered the family “black sheep,” Davie believes his uncle is a wonderful man of exceptional intellect. The boys meet Lauriette Paxton, a runaway bride, whom they offer to ...

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In 1869 Kentucky, Ben Woods is pursued by two men as he runs toward “Grassy,” the plantation owned by his late employer, Captain Clay Burnie. At the entrance to the house, young Davie Burnie and his two elderly guardians, Aunt Effie and Aunt Lou, are approached by Sheriff Coffey and a man named Catrell, who accuse Ben of being a thief. Aunt Effie assures them that she has not seen Ben since the Civil War, and challenges Catrell’s accusation. As the men leave, Sheriff Coffey reminds the Burnies that they are facing eviction. That night, Ben tells the Burnies about a chest of gold the captain buried in a forest near White Water Cove in Florida, to hide it from his nemesis, a “yankee” gunboat captain named Spangler. Ben seeks the help of the captain’s vagabond brother, Jim, to retrieve the treasure. While Ben and the Burnies study the captain’s map, Spangler and his men, including Catrell, crash through the front door. Ben escapes with the map, as Davie’s friend, Thad, watches from outside. Ben is shot in the back, and as he lay dying, he gives the map to Davie and Thad. With Spangler in pursuit, the two boys escape in a rowboat on the Mississippi River, as Spangler watches from the riverbank. The next day, the boys are ensconced among the livestock on a riverboat to Friar’s Point, Mississippi, Jim Burnie’s last known residence. Although Jim is considered the family “black sheep,” Davie believes his uncle is a wonderful man of exceptional intellect. The boys meet Lauriette Paxton, a runaway bride, whom they offer to hide while her brother and prospective groom search the boat. Later, the boys follow Lauriette to the gaming room, where she wins $400 and a diamond ring from a gambler running a crooked game of Three Card Monte. That night, Davie is robbed by a roustabout, who throws the map into the river. When the boys chase him, the roustabout is stopped by Lauriette, whom he pushes into the river. The boys jump in to save her, and all three are stranded. The next morning, Lauriette is angry over losing her money, but the boys promise to replace it when they find the treasure. Lauriette trades her diamond ring for a mule and a buckboard, and drives the boys into the town of Coahoma, where she has them detained by the sheriff as runaways. Thad feigns illness and coerces the sheriff to open the cell door, allowing he and Davie to escape while locking the sheriff and Lauriette inside. Once she is freed, Lauriette laughingly relates the boys’ story about buried treasure to the crowd outside, which includes Spangler and his men. Meanwhile, the boys agree to act as assistants to Dr. Ewing T. Snodgrass, the peddler of a dubious patent medicine called “Spooju Juice,” in exchange for a ride to Friar’s Point and to New Orleans, Louisiana, on the doctor’s houseboat. Sometime later, Lauriette happens upon Dr. Snodgrass’s medicine show outside a small town, and informs Sheriff Forbes that a charlatan harboring a pair of runaways has invaded his jurisdiction. The sheriff arrives at the show, ready to arrest Snodgrass, but quickly falls victim to the doctor’s charm. When Lauriette sees Davie, she identifies him by name in the presence of Spangler and his men, who pursue the boy and corner him at the edge of a cliff overlooking the river. Lauriette comes to the rescue and forces the men into the river at gunpoint, then joins the boys and Dr. Snodgrass on the houseboat. Upon their arrival in Friar’s Point, the group finds Jim Burnie in a clearing where he is about to be hanged by the Ku Klux Klan. Davie finds a gun and severs the rope with a single shot, while Dr. Snodgrass and Thad terrorize the Klansmen with Molotov cocktails made from Spooju Juice. The next morning, Davie’s careful study of the map allows him to describe it from memory, and Jim agrees to join the expedition. Though he is also invited, Dr. Snodgrass senses imminent danger and declines, but agrees to bring the group to New Orleans. Jim believes Lauriette is a helpless Southern belle, who would be of no use on their journey. She is resentful, but unable to deny her attraction to him. Spangler acquires a steamboat and attacks the group while they are docked on a riverbank. Jim creates a distraction as Dr. Snodgrass sets fire to his own boat and commandeers the steamboat. All escape the attackers except Jim, who is shot and presumed dead. In New Orleans, the boys state their intent to complete their expedition, with or without their adult companions. Lauriette and Dr. Snodgrass are concerned for the boys’ safety and accompany them to Florida. Confident that Spangler is nowhere in the vicinity, they hire a guide named Skaggs and travel by canoe through the alligator-infested waters of the Everglades. However, Skaggs, who is in league with Spangler, delivers the unwitting group to their enemies. When Davie refuses to divulge the treasure’s location, Dr. Snodgrass produces a map he drew from the boy’s description. Spangler and his men abandon Davie and his companions on a riverbank to be bitten to death by mosquitoes. Following a mosquito attack and a thunderstorm, Jim appears in a boat with his Native American Seminole friend, Charlie, explaining that they followed Skaggs’s trail. All are overjoyed at seeing Jim alive, especially Lauriette. As the group makes its way toward White Water Cove, Jim and Charlie determine the presence of the Cougar, a hostile Seminole tribe, and the approach of a hurricane. Undaunted, the travelers reach the cove and Davie unearths the treasure while the storm rages. However, their joy is short-lived after a tidal wave pulls Dr. Snodgrass into the ocean. Davie and the others take refuge in a Native American Cougar burial pit until the storm passes. The next morning, they find themselves faced with Spangler on the beach and a band of Cougar warriors approaching from the forest. After luring Spangler and his men into forest, Jim and the others hide in the pit while their adversaries are captured and enslaved by Cougar warriors. When Davie and his companions return to the beach, Dr. Snodgrass appears, explaining that another tidal wave deposited him on shore. Thad decides to invest his share of the treasure in an education, while Snodgrass intends to restore his patent medicine business, content in the knowledge that he has found new friends.

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

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