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Film / Treasure Island (1950)

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The 1950 film Treasure Island was the first color adaptation of the novel. It was directed by Byron Haskin and starred Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins and Robert Newton as Long John Silver, in a performance that did much to shape popular notions of what it means to Talk Like a Pirate.

The film was produced by Walt Disney Productions, and is the first Disney movie to be entirely live-action. (At one point there was a plan for a short animated sequence illustrating a story being told to Jim, à la Song of the South, but this idea was ultimately abandoned.)

Robert Newton reprised the role in Long John Silver (1954), alongside Byron Haskin and an otherwise all-new cast. Haskin and Newton followed this up with The Adventures of Long John Silver the following year, which ran 25 episodes (in colour) until Newton's death. Neither of these were Disney productions.


This film provides examples of:

  • Bowdlerise: Adhering to studio ethics, Disney toned down the violence for a 1975 reissue of the film in order to get a G rating, which was the print used on the earliest VHS and Laserdisc versions. The uncut version was submitted to the MPAA in 1992 with a PG rating and released on Laserdisc the same year.
  • Chromosome Casting: The novel had only one minor female character, Jim's mother; the movie has none at all.
  • The Dragon: Israel Hands
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Ben Gunn, after being marooned on the island.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted. It is surprising Disney was able to make this film in the 1950s with all the violence it contained.
  • Large Ham: Long John Silver.
  • Papa Wolf: Silver towards Jim. He turns on all the other pirates to save Jim's life.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • Long John gives a rather cold-bloodedly casual one to George Merry in regards to Mr Arrow.
      Have you forgotten, George? I'm the one what's taking care of Mr Arrow.
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    • Israel Hands tries to dissuade Jim from shooting at him point-blank in the face ... all the while retrieving a knife from his boot and preparing to throw it.
      Now, now, matey. [smirks] Matey.
  • Public Domain Character: Everybody from the original novel, which is how Haskin and Newton got away with making an unofficial sequel.
  • Reality Ensues: Unlike the novel, the film has Jim's injury from his fight with Israel Hands avert Just a Flesh Wound and only got worse as he made his way back through the island (and swamp, which he uses to try washing the wound and becomes more infected as a result.) When he makes it back to the cabin only to find Silver there, the injury and shock have him collapse and Livesey has to treat the wound the next day.
  • The Starscream: George Merry.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Newton's Silver is the Trope Codifier.
  • Wham Shot: At the very end of the stockade battle, Long John Silver shoots Captain Smollett.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A few of the pirates attempt to kill Jim, Israel Hands being the most notable.
    • Famously averted with Long John.


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