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  • The most famous pirate in English literature sets sail across the High Seas of Adventure - bound for TREASURE ISLAND.

    Robert Louis Stevenson's wonderful 1883 tale of devious deeds, derring-do & hidden doubloons is given a first rate production by MGM in this swaggering, boisterous film. Although many of the lead actors are American and make no pretense of hiding their Yankee accents, this in no way hinders the enjoyment or appreciation of the film's many qualities. The story has been necessarily streamlined a bit, but the excisions are judicious and the robust flavour of the original novel remains.

    Bulbous & bulgy, with a gimlet eye & a baby's grin, Wallace Beery makes a unique Long John Silver. As willful as an infant and as ruthless as a Mafia don, he completely manages to steal every scene he's in. Acting as innocent as any cherub, he gleefully commits murderous mayhem at every turn, while hobbling about on his crutch in feverish pursuit of Flint's buried treasure. Beery had the rare - and enviable - ability to take a wretched sinner like Silver and transform him into a lovable old rogue. He makes this role his own and is unforgettable in it.

    OUR GANG star Jackie Cooper makes a sturdy Jim Hawkins. His screen chemistry with Beery, so important to the plot, is still as good as it was previously in THE CHAMP (1931). Cooper was a talented child actor and could easily go from excited high jinks to blubbery tears with ease. Here, he gets to personify every lad's dreams of fabulous exploits & personal glory.

    A trio of accomplished performers portray young Cooper's three friends: Otto Kruger as noble Doctor Livesey; Nigel Bruce as blustery, big-hearted Squire Trelawney; and Lewis Stone as sternly courageous Captain Smollett. All three acquit themselves very well.

    Consummate character actor Lionel Barrymore adds another portrait to his gallery - that of the bullying, rumsoaked Billy Bones, whose possession of the treasure map is the instigation of the film's problems. Although the role is really quite brief, Barrymore makes the most of it, slashing wildly about with his cutlass and singing ‘Fifteen Men On A Dead Man's Chest' with passionate fury. It is a shame the plot gave him no scenes with Beery - they would have been memorable together.

    Stevenson's story creates a few small, choice cameo roles which are here delightfully delineated - Charles McNaughton as the scurvy Black Dog; William V. Mong as the fearsome Blind Pew; and a terrific Charles ‘Chic' Sale as canny old Ben Gunn, all jerks and fidgets and ridden with fleas. Dorothy Peterson, a fine actress, plays Mrs. Hawkins.

    The seafaring scenes on board the Hispaniola, filmed along the coast of California, are particularly well produced.
  • Yes, 9 stars from me, certain I am! This version's my favorite treasure-hunt-pirate movie, it ought to be on DVD just as it is, not colorized. I know, Beery's basically the same guy he played in most of his talkies. But someone at MGM had a flash of casting genius cuz Beery is the spittin' image of the Sea Cook in Winslow Homer's illustrations for the novel, and he wears the role like his favorite pair of--um--shoe. And even if the only English accents seem to come from Nigel Bruce (most prominently) and (who else? can't recall), somehow this cast makes their variety of UnitedStatesian accents work. They pull it off. There are a few differences between the novel and this movie version, but darn few and so what. There's no shortage of remakes & won't be. I'll take this version! Saw it on TV three or four times in my teen yrs, having read the novel when I was 12, and the differences were never significant to me. I've seen Disney's, which I liked on the Disneyland telecast, but, while Robert Newton is a definitive Long John Silver and the quintessential adventure-tale pirate--people today say Arrrr! because of his performance--Bobby Driscoll's Jim Hawkins never quite did the job in my opinion. (And Jack Palance is another great actor and his Long John Silver terrific but the version he's in is embarrassingly bad. Haven't seen the Charlton Heston.) Gotta go with this MGM version, Jackie Cooper's pout and all (but does Cooper have Presence!). From the opening scene, in which we are introduced to Jim Hawkins and Billy Bones (Lionel Barrymore having the time of his life! and setting the standard for the rest of the cast), and the unfolding story giving us as motley & mangy a bunch of pirates as ever were--among them Charles McNaughton as Black Dog, Charles Bennett as a creepy Dandy Dawson, Douglas Dumbrille as Israel Hands, and "Chic" Sale as loony Ben Gunn--to the last frame of the last scene this is a downright exciting adventure, and I think it does Robert Louis Stevenson proud (yep, even w/the minor differences). To your kids: I suggest finding an edition of the novel w/ Winslow Homer's illustrations, read that first, cuz there's nothing like the original, with justright illustrations for a bonus, and your imagination. Then sit your parents down & watch this MGM version with 'em. You'll have a fine family evening. Yes, you will, sez I!! Now get me a noggin' o' rum!!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When Robert Louis Stevenson wrote TREASURE ISLAND in 1883, he probably thought that it was a good work, but hardly better than his TRAVELS WITH A DONKEY or SILVERADO SQUATTERS or his other coming fiction. It was a good early novel, and that was that. He would grow as a writer, but THE MASTER OF BALLENTRAE, DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE, and WEIR OF HERMISTON were in the future, as was KIDNAPPED. So were the forgotten titles: PRINCE OTTO and THE WRECKERS and THE DYNAMITERS. But his best themes are in TREASURE ISLAND. Besides the expert handling of an adventure tale and a historical novel, there is also the issue of ambiguity in personality. Long John Silver is the first of a line of heroes/anti-heroes including Dr. Henry Jeckyll, Alec Breck Stewart, and James and Henry Durrie who while decent in some ways are weak or worse in other ways.

    Long John is capable of organizing a mutiny, ordering the murder of a troublesome crew member who won't join his plans, or planning to steal a treasure that does not belong to him. But he is human - he sees young Jim Hawkins as a decent kid, and ends up becoming a surrogate father to him in the novel (even protecting the boy from his less pleasant associates). But Long John cannot avoid (even at his best) being at his worse. To protect Jim, John has to keep him from the other non-mutineers (the Squire, Captain Smollett, Dr. Livesey), so he lies to Jim that they have denounced Jim as a mutineer and won't have anything to do with him. Subsequently, of course, Jim does learn this is a lie - from Dr. Livesey.

    Jim likewise finds ambiguity in his reactions. He can't help liking (even loving) the sea cook. But he realizes Silver is a bad man. Yet, in the end, he is glad that John escapes (even with some part of the treasure).

    In his autobiography, Jackie Cooper admits that when he is approached to this day by fans they start asking him about Wallace Beery, and Cooper has to admit that he never was close to Beery socially. They worked well together (Cooper played Beery's son in THE CHAMP, the 1931 film that gave Beery his Oscar). But Beery's personality (in real life) was always "troublesome". Reputedly he left the budding film industry in Chicago in the teens of the 20th Century when he was in danger of a rape charge. In later years his failed marriage to Gloria Swanson was due to his jealousy of her success and his slower success. When he worked with Cooper, he was at his Hollywood zenith as a star and talent, but he was fully aware of it. At one point, Cooper mentions an incident where Beery, he, and some others were eating lunch, and some autograph seekers approached them. While several (including Cooper) did not hesitate to give autographs, Beery refused. Afterwards, when asked about this, Beery said that he was a big star and he did not have to be pestered by this kind of thing.

    Yet, to the credit of both stars, their performances in TREASURE ISLAND are flawless. They get along very nicely in their roles - Jim Hawkins occasionally saying something kindly that raises the suspicious John Silver's spirits a bit. Beery and Cooper also perform well with the rest of the cast - check the scenes where Beery keeps his less and less friendly mutineer associates in line. He brings some dark humor to the situations (as when a treasure that they dig for is not in the spot they've waisted time at). Cooper's best moment without Beery, of course, is the sequence with Douglas Dumbrille as Israel Hands*, where they have a fight to the death (literally) in the rigging of the ship Hands was supposed to be guarding. Dumbrille, by the way, should be congratulated for his acting here - he manages not to show off that stentorian voice of his, but uses a more weaselly sounding voice quite effectively.

    Note also Lionel Barrymore's noisy and frightening, but ultimately frightened Captain Billy Bones, forcing the civilians in the Admiral Benbow Inn to sing "Fifteen Men on a Deadman's Chest", but quivering when told the one legged sea cook has been seen nearby. Also note William Mong's "Blind Pew", a scary enough figure for awhile, but at the end rather pathetic given his bizarre fate. Chic Sale's Ben Gunn is properly silly from years of isolation. Otto Kruger's Dr. Livesay is properly heroic seeking to make sure that Jim is not harmed by the mutineers. The cast, in short, is first rate, and matched by Victor Fleming's well handled directing. So the film merits a "10".

    *Historically, there was a pirate named Israel Hands, though he was dead by the time of TREASURE ISLAND (roughly 1740). Hands was one of Blackbeard's crew in 1716 - 1718, and was the only survivor of that crew from Blackbeard's last battle in 1718. The pirate chief shot him in the knee, wounding him severely enough to keep from fighting. Hands was put ashore before the battle, and watched while his mates were killed or captured (and eventually hanged). Hands died years later as a beggar in London. Oh, and the inn, "the Admiral Benbow" is named for Admiral John Benbow (died 1702) who was a hero of the Navy in the period of the War of the Spanish Succession.
  • We would always gauge films with the old test of... if you were going to be shot off in a capsule into space and could only take 10 movies... this one would be the first I would chose. Dialog is excellent and follows the story from the book. Casting is spot on with the obvious out of the park home run for the choice of Wallace Beery as Long John Silver. The mark of his skill and acting in this film, is that even though he describes in some detail the murders he committed of his shipmates (there were too many to share the treasure) and is seen in the film.. as best as it was shown in the '30's... killing yet again... by the end of the film you have forgotten his evil. How can this happen? Simply because he is that wonderful in the part. Nigel Bruce (Dr. Watson) as the bumbling Squire, and Harold Stone (Judge Hardy)round out the cast in glowing Technicolor. Jackie Cooper has been knocked for giving a "stiff" performance, but I thought he was great. Give the kid a break. Many great lines, memorable moments and favorite scenes that will stay with you long after the movie ends. This is one that I can happily watch once a week forever.

    For me this will always be the classic and definitive version, everything else is just chasing this one and none have come close.
  • I have seen most versions of Treasure Island. This is one of my favorites. Not what I would call erotic in any shape or form. Good Beery and Coogan vehicle with plenty of pirates and treasure hunting as other versions. The story line is not much different than any other. It seems a bit brighter and more lighthearted. Although none are very true to the story this one is a decent adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson book. I happen to like the casting of Lionel Barrymore, Otto Kruger, Lewis Stone, and Nigel Bruce in this gem. Their defense of the Island Stockade is exciting. It has more replayability than all but a couple. It is great fun for the whole family for a lazy afternoon. A notch above most except perhaps the one with Charlton Heston. I certainly hope to see this on DVD since I would add it to my collection.
  • It is easy to spot great acting in this movie. Wallace Beary is great cast as Long John Silver. Jackie Cooper gives another fine child performance. As a matter of fact, the entire cast does very well.

    What might be over looked often is that part of the reason this is so so good is that it is well based on the Robert Lewis Stevenson novel. The rest goes to the most often overlooked Direction of Victor Fleming.

    Fleming proves in this early film that his work in the films Wizard of Oz & Gone With The Wind is no accident (some critics have called him an erratic Director for hire). He does a great job directing this cast & this story. Some of the sequences show how good a director Fleming really is.

    After seeing this film recently, I am now convinced that Victor is a much better director than his detractors give him credit for. While this film does not have all the whiz bang special effects that newer pirate films have created, the great acting & directing more than makes up for that.

    Add to that the amazing fact that this film brings in so much good stuff that it only needs 101 minutes to cover a major novel is enough to make you wonder if some of the new longer films about pirates just aren't very efficient in telling their tales.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It only made sense that with the successful pairing of Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper, that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios would try their luck again with "Treasure Island." Wallace Beery adds his own unique charm to his portrayal of Long John Silver, that I found very amusing and he is actually pretty good on one leg. Jackie Cooper's acting is a little wooden as Jim Hawkins, but he does manage to shine and is most endearing in his many scenes with Beery. Lionel Barrymore must be mentioned for his excellent performance as the menacing Captain Billy Bones. Watching Charles 'Chic' Sale, will make you feel "itchy" as he plays poor Ben Gunn, who has lived alone on the deserted island for a few years. Otto Kruger, Lewis Stone, Nigel Bruce, Charles McNaughton, Dorothy Peterson, all provide fine performances in this Victor Fleming directed film, that was produced with the highest production values for a 1934 film. This above average adaption of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story, still remains a very entertaining family film to watch.
  • Yes here is a good adventure yarn from a famous novel; a treasure map, a seafaring trip to an island with pirates too, lost treasure, and characters with names such as "Black Dog" etc etc However what distinguishes this version of the tale in my opinion is the relationship between cabin boy Jim Hawkins and the wily old one legged sea lag Long John Silver with the parrot on his shoulders. Childhood trust and innocence is constantly revealed yet betrayed by the adult against the child. Both these characters dominate the movie and quite a study in how an understandably gullible youngster is constantly hoodwinked by the older rogue. Outstanding performances from both actors and all in all this is an entertaining and thoughtful picture. 7/10.
  • Victor Flemming, famous helmer for bigger films such as Gone With The Wind, conducts this adventure story with a pleasant, confidant ease, if not a touch of true inspiration.

    Wallace Beery is brilliant as Long John Silver while Jackie Cooper as Jim plays the perfect sounding board to Beery's loud, large, charismatic performance.

    Faithful to Mr. Louis Stevenson's chirography of the same tile; in this writer's humble opinion this incarnation of the film captures, most closely, the tone of the original novel - maybe it being closest to the novel chronologically can account for that.

    Beery delivers a truly classic American performance here, that anyone, even the most media jaded of our day, should have fun following the old tar and his young friend in their adventures across this terraqueous globe.
  • Hollywood vintage adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson pirate adventure from an eyeball-rolling Wallace Beery and a splendid Jacke Coogan . Again we live the roaring adventure of men against the sea . We share the struggles, the heartaches, the laughter of courageous souls who leave their houses they love to dare the wrath of the angry pirates. Upright men and greedy pirates in conflict with their destiny enacting the Robert Stevenson's most thrilling story. Jim Hawkins (an appealing acting by Jackie Coogan) encounters the map that lead to a distant island where is a buried treasure. Then , the young boy join forces with captain Smollett (Lewis Stone), Squire (Nigel Bruce), Doctor Livesey (Otto Kruger) and of course a boisterous Long John Silver(a brilliant triumph by Wallace Beery who is notably snarly , though relatively subdued) journey to isle of hidden bounty. The young cabin boy Hawkins has a treasure map and a boatload of kill-crazed pirates eager for the riches hidden on Treasure Island . Jim Hawkins matches with peg-legged Long Silver and adventures go on .

    Fun story of high seas adventure plenty of intrigue , fights and action. The whole piece of adventure teems with emotion , thrills , humor , atmosphere and being pretty amusing . Appropriately adventurous rendition of Robert Stevenson's often-filmed and spine-tingling tale , in which Wallace Beery hands perfectly the role as rogue pirate and gives a memorable acting, as always. Jackie Coogans as sympathetic naive Jim is fabulous and appealing . Delightful performance by Charles Chic Sale as Ben Gunn, as well. At the film appears usual and notorious secondary actors in several Hollywood productions, such as Lionel Barrymore as Billy Bones , Otto Kruger as Doctor Livesey , Lewis Stone as Captain Smollett , Douglass Dumbrille as Pirate of the Spanish Main and Watson's Nigel Bruce as Squire . The motion picture was well directed directed by Victor Fleming . This production is powered by the great Wallace Beery and likable Jackie Coogan. Also available in horrible colorized version . Rating : Above average . Well worth watching , you'll be on the edge of your seat .

    Other renditions -being multitudinous remakes , as there are many films made of it- based on this classic novel are the followings : Disney take on (1950) by Byron Haskin with Robert Newton , Basil Sydney and Bobby Driscoll , respectable full-blooded second-best the classic Fleming version ; European retelling (1974) by John Hough with Orson Welles , Angel Del Pozo , Lionel Stander and Kim Burfield ; Teasure Island (1999) by Marc Charlesbois with Jack Palance , Patrick Bergin and Kevin Zegers ; TV recounting by Fraser C Heston with Charlton Heston , Christian Bale and Richard Johnson ; and cartoon-Sci-Fi version Treasure planet (2002) directed by John Musker and Ron Clemens . Furthermore , Muppet's Treasure island and recent rendition (2012) starred by Eddie Izzard .
  • I noticed, like some of the other reviewers, that few in the film had the necessary British accents needed to play these characters well. However, despite this, the movie is an excellent version of the Stevenson novel--mostly due to good acting, great sets and the nice MGM polish you'd expect from one of their top productions.

    As far as the film goes, it's one of the earliest of the Wallace Beery films that teamed him with a cute kid--a formula that was repeated again and again up until Beery's death in 1949. Considering that according to his co-star, Jackie Cooper, Beery hated children and did little to hide it off camera--so I am sure in some ways Beery probably wished this and "The Champ" hadn't been so successful!!

    As for the story, it's the often told story of "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's reasonably faithful to the story and is better than other versions I have seen. However, I have NOT seen the very famous Robert Newton version (by many seen as the best), so I cannot say the 1934 version was the best--though many of the newer versions tended to be a bit more dull. Like it or not, the Beery-Cooper schmaltz was entertaining--and I can see why audiences fell for it by the millions!

    By the way, like so many releases from Turner Entertainment, this film includes many wonderful extras from the same studio (MGM) from the same year as this feature's release. Turner also does this with many of their classic Warner Brothers releases as well--making them excellent values for customers.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie holds up pretty well, in spite of acting styles and a general Thirties feel that may seem a bit off to the modern viewer.

    But Stevenson's story is presented here overall with more authenticity than the later Disney version. The gruesome death of Blind Pew, and the murder of an honest seaman by Long John Silver, witnessed by the horrified Jim Hawkins, are presented unflinchingly.

    The shipboard and island scenes are good, and the siege of the stockade is excitingly staged. Douglas Dumbrille turns in an incredibly malevolent performance as Israel Hands, pursuing Jim with a dagger around the ship, with them the only people on it. It's a really fascinating villain role for Dumbrille, in light of his usual portrayal of smooth, suave bad guys. With baggy seaman's trousers and a bandanna, stubbly beard and earring, and eyes that gleam with murderous delight, firing the cannon at the longboat of escaping good guys, and laughing diabolically, this may be Dumbrille's most memorable part.

    The opening segment, with the old buccaneer Billy Bones arriving at the inn and lodging there, to terrorize the villagers into singing rowdy sea chanteys with him, scandalizing everyone by gleefully narrating tales of his bloodthirsty adventures, and telling Jim to keep one eye open for a seafaring man with one leg, is marvelous. Lionel Barrymore has a great time as the bad tempered, drunken old pirate who owns the mysterious chest, and lives in fear of being found by his old shipmates. The scene where the incredibly frightening Blind Pew forces Jim Hawkins to lead him to Billy Bones and deliver the Black Spot, is hair raising.. The look of abject misery and mortal terror on Barrymore's face, when he is confronted by the creepy blind man ,is unforgettable.

    This movie is a lot of fun for anyone who loves the R.L.Stevenson story, and pirate movies generally. The emotional climax, though criticized as overly sentimental, still packs a wallop even today.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Robert Louis Stevenson has written a fine tale of adventure, life on the high seas, pirates, treasure chests, betrayal and intrigue, and all that. This was the first book I can remember being given as a child. I was too young to understand the vocabulary or even the general thrust of the narrative. Of course I knew Jim Hawkins (Jackie Coogan) hid in the apple barrel because the illustration showed that. But what was really needed was a glossary for kids and landlubbers. Some glosses in the margins, indicating that "the black spot" was what was left over after a Mexican meal. And informing the reader that "helm" was the opposite of "heavenm." And that "pole star" was an allusion to Paweł Wojciechowski, the Pole vaulter. Fortunately, the movie is couched in easily understood images and accompanied by dialog the meaning of which can be interpolated into the context.

    Young Jim Hawkins and his mother come across a treasure map. Doctor Livesey (Otto Kruger), Squire Trelawney (Nigel Bruce), and Captain Smollet (Lewis Stone) hire a crew to sail the Hispaniola to Treasure Island and dig up the chests. Alas, half the crew are subordinates of the crafty, evil Long John Silver (Wallace Beery). There is a mutiny when the ship reaches the island. Jim is captured by one side and rescued by the other, and in-between he cuts the ships anchor lines and beaches her to save her from the pirates. A couple of fierce fire fights and one or two cutlass engagements ends with the good guys sailing away with the treasure and with Silver as a captive. Silver, cunning as ever, talks Jim into letting him go in Jamaica, rather than hang. We feel, though, that despite Silver's unsavory past, he genuinely likes Jim and Jim is optimist enough to believe what Silver says about reforming. Considerable sentiment in the scene, but not an excess.

    No great acting skills are called for, and none are on display. Coogan isn't really believable. So few kids his age are. The most outrageous performance is given by Wallace Beery, with his big flabby mouth and his calculating eyes darting in all directions. Beery has been dismissed by critics as a big ham but I rather enjoy his overplaying, and he was in a couple of neat pictures, such as "China Seas." The story has been remade several times but this version strikes me as the best. Much of the humor depends on Beery's demeanor and Jim's naivte. Here's an exchange. Beery is the cook and is assembling dinner. Jim: "Doctor Livesy is no sailor but he can cut you up and sew you back together again." Beery: "That 'sewing up' part must be difficult." (The "cutting up" part doesn't faze him.) Jim: "But so's the cutting up." Beery: (Pauses a moment, looks thoughtful.) "Experience, Jim."

    Stevenson's book still has the power to enchant a reader, even -- or maybe especially -- an adult. Jim Hawkins, the author of the narrative, is as naive as Candide or Matty Ross in "True Grit" and he misses some things an older person would pick up. Stevenson died young -- a tall, thin, ascetic-looking leptosome. He's buried now at Vailima, in Western Samoa, where he was known as "tusitala," which some have made sound like an honorific, whereas it just means "writer" or "someone who tells stories." (Good enough, I guess.) He borrowed some details of geography (eg., Spyglass Hill) from features of the terrain on the Monterey Peninsula, where he'd spent some time.

    See the movie, and read the book too. It's short.
  • I've seen no other film versions of this, so I was going merely from a long-ago remembrance of the book, and a memorable children's audio reading (backed by Bedrich Smetana's majestic 'Die Moldau').

    Let me say; this is on the whole a satisfactory, if not completely satisfying film version of the classic adventure. It's difficult to envisage it being done better at the time, at MGM, than it was here. That is not to say that I am entirely happy; the ending is a bad misfire. Irresponsibly altering Stevenson's ending to 'tie in' with the film's top-heavy emphasis on the Long John Silver/Jim Hawkins relationship. It's all rather silly, sentimental stuff; going unnecessarily far in trying to 'soften' the inimitable ship's cook...

    But broadly, I did really appreciate this film, which captures much of the book's zest and adventure. Some of the scope and scale of the story is missed, but not as badly as it could have been. A fine cast see to that; an instantly recognizable (if somewhat young by his standards!) Nigel Bruce as the crusty, jingoistic buffoon, Squire Trelawney, is tremendously Dickensian and makes a real impression. Smollett is essayed imperiously by Lewis Stone (stuffy and boring two years previously in "The Mask of Fu Manchu"); could this sort of completely steadfast assurance and quiet dignity be easily replicated today? Oh, the pronounced sobriety of the way the camera lingers over the putting up of the Union Jack at the Stock Aide... truly of a long past era, and yet this is an American film displaying convincing old British patriotism.

    Jackie Cooper is also far away from today's acting styles; manifestly limited to a few notes, but heck, the kid plays it for all its worth. He invests it all with a slightly precocious indignation that somehow works - 'Bless my *soul*...!' 'Upon my word, I don' know what you're talking about!' He's like an American William Hague transplanted to the 1930s with an interest in seafaring and maritime adventure.

    Wallace Beary is limited also, as the marvelous character, Long John Silver; only really bringing out the lovable, unreliable charlatanry of Silver. Beery hams it up; oh yes; but not to the definitive degree of Robert Newton (from what I have heard); it doesn't strike me as entirely right that ol' Long John is a drawling, almost completely comical American seadog. But Beery just about wins me over, with a performance of some charm. Not to be forgotten amongst the cast are William V. Mong as a sinister Blind Pew and a typically gibbering, truly insane Ben Gunn played by Charles 'Chic' Sale. His initial scene with Jackie Cooper is an absurd, humorous delight, as you see this exaggeratedly world-weary child being completely flummoxed by this bizarre, apeish chap, all wild body language and liberty with language...

    The early part of the film ought to be mentioned; the tavern is portrayed as dingy - surprisingly so for the time and considering the studio - Jackie Cooper seems a little out of place really. In a sense, it is a shame that the cast is not uniformly British to lend a bit more of the Stevenson air to things. Lionel Barrymore as Captain Billy 'Bill' Bones completely walks away with the early section, appropriately sailing well over the top in acting approach; marvellous stuff, like Tom Waits crossed with how I'd really imagined LJS. Obviously, it was to be only a cameo - the story is thus followed - but it's a shame, as his presence is wonderful. Might he indeed have made a fine Long John? He seems a fine actor to me; here even outstripping the stylized pathos of his Otto Kringelein in "Grand Hotel".

    In overall estimation, this is a dandy fine effort really; it lacks some sense of the book's exuberant mystery and majesty, and the ending is a serious mistake, but this is a wonderful entertainment. Victor Fleming was an artisan of the populist, but thankfully he doesn't totally unbalance this production in favour of the treacly and 'family-orientated'. This film bears the Jolly Roger with jocular aplomb.

    Rating:- ****/*****
  • Beery's Long John Silver and Barrymore's Billy Bones are the quintessential pop-culture pirates, parrots and all, and for that alone 1934's "Treasure Island" is worth watching. The black and white cinematography is great (I gather that there is a colourised version but who cares) and the music, with the iconic "Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum" theme, is perfect. The gang of pirates are as scurrilous a band of brigands as you could ask for: the embodiment of treachery with bad teeth, led by the conniving Silver, played to the cutlass hilt by the great Wallace Beery. The only real weak point is child-star Jackie Cooper's Jack Hawkins character. Cooper's characteristic pouting lower lip and Shirley Temple delivery just didn't work in the generally grim and dark tale – every time he spoke, I expected Wheezer or Stymie to show up (apparently Cooper himself was not pleased by his delivery of the role). Other than that, and the studio-approved alteration to the end of the story, this is a fine version of the Robert L. Stevenson's classic novel.
  • Yes, the pacing of this Metro picture may be a bit awkward but it's my favorite TREASURE ISLAND simply for the wonderful cast. Beery is just great as Silver, especially when compared to the truly horrible Robert Newton. Otto Kruger, Nigel Bruce and Lewis Stone add some genuine swashbuckling enthusiasm to their roles (Bruce did play a wonderful ass). And the collection of pirates - from Douglass Dumbrille to Ed Pawley to James Burke (for once, not an Irish cop!) to J. M. Kerrigan - really adds depth to the cadre of criminal seamen. My only complaint is that Harry Cording got short shrift. By the way, some trivia - the foppish singing pirate was played by Harry Bailey, who sang "Hooray For Charlie Kane" in CITIZEN KANE. Herbert Stothart's score makes great use of "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest", an early-century song based on the lines in Stevenson's novel. A winner.
  • bkoganbing23 November 2011
    Every generation sees a new adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson's eternal classic Treasure Island. It's a timeless adventure story that will always appeal to the young and young at heart. And it has one of the great acting roles of all time, one you can really eat a whole living room set with and still be in bounds.

    For a scene stealing actor like Wallace Beery playing Long John Silver is no stretch at all. He dominates this version over the entire cast and as he's in most of the scenes after Lionel Barrymore as Captain Billy Bones dies and leaves his map to that intrepid band of treasure hunters. Barrymore gets his innings in as well as the bloodthirsty pirate captain who double-crossed his crew and had the presence of mind to die in Dorothy Peterson and Jackie Cooper's inn.

    It's a real toss up between who is loudest, biggest eyerolling, larger than life Silver, be it Wallace Beery or Robert Newton in the later version done by Walt Disney. Both these men were remarkably similar in acting styles. But Beery was a cheap soul who had few friends in Hollywood and Newton was the life of that alcoholic party that was his life. I wouldn't want to choose which was better.

    Beery and Cooper had their act down pat from The Champ. It's always a source of amazement to me how Cooper couldn't stand Beery and Beery among his dislikes was children in general. Yet you'd never know it seeing them together as Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.

    Otto Kruger as Dr. Livesey, Nigel Bruce as Squire Trelawney, and Lewis Stone as Captain Smollett are perfectly cast in their roles. But they really have trouble keeping up with Beery.

    MGM gave the film the usual high gloss production values and Treasure Island is one of those films that always seems to be so right for screen that few variations are ever made on the book. A great tribute to the visual quality of Stevenson's writing.

    And you can enjoy this and the Disney version for generations to come.
  • Wallace Beery shines even greater when playing opposite a young adolescent co-star. In this 1934 film classic that actor happens to be the 12 year old future Hollywood adult star Jackie Cooper.

    Treasure Island is another of Wallace Beery's greatest performances and to this day some 84 years later the film is as entertaining as when it was first released. The actual times in 1934 were a much simpler time when all Americans lived through a time of fear of entering into another world war breaking out at anytime having survived WW1 twenty years earlier. Treasure Island provided millions of people a few hours of relief in which they listened and laughed to the gregarious pirate Long John Silver played to perfection by Wallace Beery. Young boys and girls today will greatly enjoy the key part that the 12 year old Jim Hawkins (Jackie Cooper) plays opposite both the pirate Long John Silver (Wallace Beery) and the good guy Captain Smollett (Lewis Stone). Who knows, but maybe, just maybe, this 1934 version of Treasure Island will allow some of our own children's imagination to actually develop and at a future date when they become adults create a future film classic in this current century.

    For all real movie fans this is a film classic that should not be missed as it still stands up well almost a century old now.

    I give the film a perfect 10 for 10 rating for its time and even to this day!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    *Spoiler/plot- 1934, A boy and his mother have a country inn on the ocean cliffs. An old sailor moves into the inn and is dying. He befriends the son of the inn keeper with is stories of living on ships. One night a strange blind man arrives and marks the old sailor for death from a pirate brotherhood with the 'Black Spot'. During a cutlass fight, the boy finds a treasure map in the sea chest of the dying sailor. He takes the map to the local authorities who know about it and set up a ship and crew to find the treasure. Once the ship, 'Hispaniola' leaves the port with mostly a secret pirate crew aboard; they arrive at the Treasure Island. The crew takes over the ship and attacks the obedient crew members trying to get the treasure for them. A marooned sailor helps the obedient crew members to find and stow the hidden treasure aboard the ship to go back to England for justice. 'Long' John Silver shows that he is an able conman, pirate, liar, double-crosser, and schemer through this whole treasure hunting experience.

    *Special Stars- Wallace Beery, Jackie Cooper

    *Theme- Men will look for treasure even if they suffer for it.

    *Based on- Robert Louise Stevenson's famous pirate novel

    *Trivia/location/goofs- There is a obvious film goof when Jim (Cooper) Hawkins goes to the Hispaniola's galley to speak to Long (Beery) John and stands at the galley door. You will clearly see a long microphone boom with sound cable shadow that hovers over the actor and top of the galley. In later years during Jackie Cooper interviews, he tells about Wallace Beery's antagonism and drinking during their scenes in this film. It seems Mr. Beery was not a lover of child actors much like W. C. Fields. Copper was pretty green in this film when it comes to his role and acting style.

    *Emotion- Another fine remake of this classic pirate film. MGM was clearly reaping the bonus ticket prices by pairing these two leading men (older and boy) by casting them in this story. It was a perfect fit and very popular. The ending of this film is when 'Long John' is sailing away free in a long boat from being held responsible for the deaths, maroonment, piracy, and theft of treasure.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Based on R.L. Stevenson's classic tale, especially aimed at boy readers. At one level, it's a reluctant buddy story between a devious, sometimes piratical, one-legged rascal(Long John Silver) and a naïve imaginative boy(Jim Hawkins) who worships the charismatic knowledgeable man. It's Jim who found the map to Captain Flint's buried treasure chest, and it's Silver who schemes to steal the map from the gentleman adventurers allied with Jim, and eventually the treasure as well as the ship that takes all to the island. Silver serves as cook aboard the ship, and was given the honor of selecting most of the crew, who will serve as his henchmen. Eventually, Jim overhears Silver talking to his gang about his plan of action, and relays this information to the gentlemen adventurers. Later, on the island, at one point, the other mutineers want to kill Jim, but Silver intercedes. On the voyage home, in reciprocation, Jim releases Silver from custody, so that he may sail off into the unknown, and avoid the hangman's noose that the gentlemen adventures had in store for him.....Wallace Berry makes an appealing charismatic Long John, but it's inevitable that he will be compared with Robert Newton, who took the same role in the 1954 Disney remake. Newton's rascally, but charismatic, Long John is more distinctive from Berry's version, but Berry is also very good. I would say hope to catch both versions some day. Of course, kids these days usually demand color movies, which is where Disney's version shines....Other charismatic characters include Lionel Barrymore as Billy Bones, who supplies the treasure map among his post-humus things., William Mung, as blind Pew, Charles McNunington as Black Dog, and ,of course, skeletal Ben Gun.
  • TREASURE ISLAND is the sort of film that cries out for Technicolor since it deals with pirates, treasure maps, ships at sea and a fort under attack--the sort of thing done in scores of other movies (and other versions of the story), but usually in color.

    Here the B&W photography is handsome enough, the sets look sturdy, the ship masts are full and the acting is strictly from the '30s era of overacting--not too much of a flaw in this case because the story cries for some good old melodramatic turns.

    During the opening sequences, LIONEL BARRYMORE acts up a storm as Billy Bones, the man who has the whole tavern singing "Sixteen Men On a Dead Man's Chest". His look of astonishment at seeing his assassin enter the tavern is priceless. Unfortunately, his role is a comparatively brief one.

    JACKIE COOPER resorts to too much pouting (in Shirley Temple style) to be truly effective as Jim Hawkins but does a decent enough job; WALLACE BEERY steals every scene he's in as the one-legged Long John Silver with a parrot on his shoulder; LEWIS STONE and NIGEL BRUCE do well enough in more conventional roles as high-blooded men from aristocracy; and even OTTO KRUGER, an actor I'm not particularly fond of, does one of his best jobs as Dr. Livesey, protector of the Hawkins boy, and DOUGLAS DUMBRILLE does a brilliant job as a master villain.

    Among the pirates, there's a good sense of adventure all the way through and the Robert Louis Stevenson story is faithfully rendered except for the sentimental ending. Nevertheless, it never quite overcomes the feeling that you're watching actors going through the motions of a pirate tale and lacks the lusty swordplay and swashbuckling fun of another sea epic, CAPTAIN BLOOD, which came out a year later. Michael Curtiz, it seems, had a better handle on this sort of adventure than Victor Fleming.
  • I've never read the book Treasure Island so I can't compare this 1934 adaptation to the source material but rather give a point of view as someone who watched the film out of admiration for the stars involved. Treasure Island doesn't have the unmanufactured feel or the neo- realism of the pervious pairing of Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper of The Champ (then again few films do) but I was satisfied to get my fill of another Beery-Cooper pairing. The chemistry they share, what a pure and natural delight.

    For me Cooper's performance in Treasure Island is priceless; a little kid trying to act tough. I can't help but let out an "awwwww!!" at any moment when he's in over his head. I can see how his performance would rub others the wrong way but I can't get enough of it. Cooper's relationship to Beery in reality was nothing like it was in fiction but watching him on screen you would never think otherwise. You can see the admiration Jim Hawkins has for Long John Silver on his face and likewise, when he discovers the truth about Long John, just look at the pure horror that bestows his face. Wallace Beery on other hand looks just like a true, rugged seafarer and a beast of a pirate. Being an actor of the silent era he has a beat up face which says so much. Beery simply had the look this role required.

    Treasure Island saw the return of the swashbuckler to Hollywood, popular during the 1920's but almost nonexistent during the pre-code era. Coming from MGM, the production values are second to none, even throwing some exotic animals into the mix and a taster of what was to come in MGM's Mutiny on the Bounty.

    Before Beery appears on screen Lionel Barrymore as Billy Bones steals any scene he's occupies and when I say steals, I mean steals. I can't determine whether or not his performance is supposed to be funny or not but his scenery chewing grounceness, rambling and his constant desire for rum cracks me up ("Bottle of rum ya old hag!!").

    The ending is an emotional punch to the gut albeit one of mixed emotions. It's not clear during the film whether or not Long John has any affection for Jim or is just manipulating him and taking advantage of his naivety. Regardless watching Jackie Cooper crying his little heart out as Beery embarks of the ship, you would need to have a heart of stone not to be moved.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Copyright 7 August 1934 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. New York opening at the Capitol: 17 August 1934. U.K. release: 22 December 1934. Australian release: 19 December 1934. 11 reels. 109 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Young Jim Hawkins tackles vicious Long John Silver.

    VIEWERS' GUIDE: Suitable for all.

    COMMENT: Young Cooper is not an overly convincing Jim Hawkins, but everyone else is absolutely brilliant in this outstandingly entertaining version of the Stevenson novel we all studied so assiduously at school. Why didn't they lighten our little hearts by showing us this terrific movie, for heaven's sake? Just plain mean, I guess. No doubt to-day's students have merely to call up the movie on the Internet — making sure they specify this one and not the Robert Newton or Orson Welles interpretations. For fine as those actors are, they can't compare with Wallace Beery. In fact, Long John Silver was the role Beery was born to play. He is charmingly superb.

    But Beery's is not the only performance-of-a-lifetime in this masterfully directed account of a Boy's Own mutiny and piracy. Lionel Barrymore's is the other really stand-out piece of acting. And we should also make a special laudatory mention of both William V. Mong's Pew and Charles McNaughton's Black Spot.

    The rest of the players are no laggards either. What a cast! What a cast!

    Maybe Chic Sale is a bit too "in character" as Ben Gunn. But as 99% of "Treasure Island" viewers will never have seen the old Chic before (even though he made at least a dozen other pictures), this is a ridiculous quibble.

    At least director Victor Fleming is not an unknown quantity among school kids. Yes, this is just as good as Gone With The Wind or The Wizard of Oz or Captains Courageous or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In fact it's a darn sight better. Maybe I'm prejudiced because I'm a direct descendant of Robert Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson's grand- father, so bear that in mind!

    AVAILABLE on an excellent Warner DVD.
  • Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper hew closest to the Robert Louis Stevenson book than any of its imitators -- and it also is more adventurous and fun to watch. The chemistry Beery and Cooper exude is not to be missed. Lionel Barrymore is an unexpected good pirate in the film's beginning as the opening scenes grab the audience's attention almost immediately because of the great and bold acting by Barrymore and the other principals.

    This movie takes you on Stevenson's journey, every pirate fleshed out, and every plot detail clear and understandable. The adventures on the island are no less engaging, and the goodbye scene between Beery and Cooper is played genuinely and is believable.

    This version has always been the one to beat and no one has been able to do that yet. "Repairing" the quality of this classic and finding a better way to genuinely provide natural color for it would be an improvement -- I expect new technology will revolutionize the colorization process and the poorly colorized movies of the past may be replaced by realistic masterpieces that enhance the film.

    This is a classic and should be in any film hall of fame.
  • Personal favourite goes to the Charlton Heston/Christian Bale version, but this 1934 film is very close behind(as blasphemous as this may sound I do prefer it over the Robert Newton film, although Newton is the better and perhaps definitive) Long John. This version is let down a little by an, for my tastes, overly-sentimental ending(though it is nowhere near as bad as the insulting ending of the bizarre-in-a-bad-way adaptation with Jack Palance) and Jackie Cooper's at times wooden and cloying Jim, though he does show believability in some of his scene with Beery. But it is wonderfully photographed and has great sets and costumes for the time, if the question of whether the film looks good by today's standards is asked the answer would be yes. The music score is rousing and fits the mood of the story and the film very well, not one of my favourites but all that matters is whether it's good and memorable and the score here is that. This adaptation of Treasure Island also has the wittiest and most quotable dialogue of any version, the dialogue too is also faithful to the style of writing of the book(which is a classic).

    The story may not be as dark, suspenseful and majestic as the book, but it's not devoid of those qualities. While the pacing creaks a little here and there, the film is always fun and maintains the sense of rollicking adventure, Jim and Long John's chemistry/relationship is vital and it is endearingly done here. In terms of how faithful it is, there are a few changes but it is relatively faithful to the story, the changes are written in well and don't feel bizarre or unnecessary, which was the biggest problem that the Jack Palance film suffered from. Treasure Island(1934) is not one of Victor Fleming's very best films, it's not among the best films ever made like The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind are, but it does rank high among his filmography and Fleming does a very good job directing, both technically and in his direction of the story and acting. The acting, with the exception of Cooper(who is not without his moments), is fine. Stealing the show is Wallace Beery who is perfectly-cast as Long John and does wonderfully showing the character's good and bad sides, usually I take or leave him as an actor but his performance here is one of his finest, a career-best perhaps. There is some great character actors involved and they don't disappoint, Lionel Barrymore plays Billy Bones with great menacing gusto, Nigel Bruce's blustering and bumbling fits Squire Trelawney like a glove and Charles "Chic" Sale is an amusing Ben Gunn. That the cast have good material to work from and don't suffer from distorted characterisation and story changes(unlike the Jack Palance version). All in all, very good as an adaptation and film in general of Treasure Island. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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