Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!!
Simon Davis | 05/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This version of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale "Treasure Island" is I feel the best despite the fact of there having been many fine ones produced. It boasts one of the pairings of the legendary early 1930's team of Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper. In this film they have the best vechicle for their talents in this rousing tale of 18th Century England, buried treasure, pirates and adventure in the Carribean.In real life the older Beery and child actor Cooper strongly disliked each other but their onscreen chemistry is unmistakeable.
Wallace Beery, a Hollywood veteran since the silent era has the role of a lifetime as the roguish but likeable Long John Silver complete with peg leg!! He is totally believeable and manages to make his character not only rough and gruff but appealing into the bargain. There has been criticism of Jackie Cooper's portrayal of Jim Hawkins from the point of view of him being both stiff and far too young for the character as depicted in Stevenson's novel. I feel he is excellent and manages to convey that sense of childish wonder at all the pirates doings around him while being able to reveal a commanding enough presence to keep us rooting for him as the action unfolds around him. I loved the Beery/Cooper combination in their other great classic "The Champ' but here they have less sentimental characters to work with and they both succeed wonderfully.The film was a top budget production for the year and is directed with gusto by veteran director Victor Fleming who of course was responsible for some of the greatest of Hollywood classics like "Gone With The Wind" and many of the other classic Clark Gable productions . He manages a fine balance between the essential action of the story and the more genteel moments between the Beery and Cooper characters. The care and attention to detail in this lavish production is evident at every turn. Alot of the location shooting was done off the coast of Catalina and an actual sailing vessel was refurbished as the pirate ship which is the main set piece of the story. The beautiful sea photogragphy and island sequences are a treat to the eye and it is a shame that colour was not used as was originally intended for this production. ( a note of warning on this matter though: beware of colourized versions of this classic...avoid them at all costs. A black and white film was meant to be just that and should never be tampered with as so many classic have been)The film being an "A" class MGM production boasts a splendid supporting cast including, Lionel Barrmore in the brief role of old Billy Bones who entrusts Jim Hawkins with his treasure map, the always excellent Lewis Stone as the sea captain who finds himself lumbered with a crew of cut throats and a rare appearance by Charles "Chic" Sale as another pirate. He was a frequent performer in Cooper's films and was shown to great effect in their film together "When a Fella Needs a Friend" Nigel Bruce, in another variation of his usual scattery character rounds out the cast as Jim Hawkin's partner in the treasure hunt.As a solid adventure yarn filled with excitment, atmosphere, and daring do "Treasure Island" cannot be beaten. It is a grand example of MGM expertise in motion and I never fail to marvel at the care that Hollywood put into such stories in the Golden Era. As stated before many fine versions have been made of this classic but none come near the Beery/Cooper version of "Treasure Island" Enjoy!"
One of my all time favorites
Zig Zog | Long Island, NY | 11/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After I watched this movie for the tenth time, I decided to read the book, in the hopes that it would clear up some of the drunken mumbling of the pirates, and let me understand what they were saying. Upon reading, I was happy to see how faithful the film was to the book - in fact I think they must have kept about 95% of the original dialogue in there. Even though the movie is really old, it really is quite atmospheric. There are many "quotable" lines in this flick, and many quaint facial expressions and lovely bits of overacting to see. I think Beery and Cooper work well together - Beery charming as Silver, and Cooper as a Jim Hawkins, who in my mind, is trying to be "one of the guys" - which usually means stiffening his lip and talkin all big. There are lots of goofy mis-dubbings (check out Silver's tavern scene) and Ben Gunn is a hilarious freak. The ending is touching too. One of the few movies I have that I can watch, rewind, and then watch again right away."
Very faithful to the classic Stevenson tale.
Zig Zog | 12/10/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Very good adaptation of the classic Stevenson pirate tale, with stirring performances by Lionel Barrymore as Billy Bones and Wallace Beery as the hero-villain Long John Silver. Jackie Cooper is adequate as the young Jim Hawkins, who ships off after buried treasure. Directed by Academy Award winner, Victor Fleming, of "Gone With the Wind" fame. Recommended to anyone who is interested in viewing a faithful retelling of the classic Stevenson story. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!"
Isn't a shame?
Zig Zog | 02/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"That the best version of classics like this seem to get to DVD so late? Surely, someone out there in the movie world must love this and have the means to restore it, because all other versions are pale imitations. Oh, I suppose you could argue with production values and so forth, but none of that matters against Wallace Beery's Long John Silver, an absolute icon. Jackie Cooper's no slouch either, "cheese says you?". Nothing but gold in this vault."