19 January 2005 | Walling_M_I
Aaargh, matey! Them that dies will be the lucky ones!
I'm not sure if this is the cinematic version which best captures the ethos of Robert Louis Stevenson's book, but it is the version which provides the best movie experience for the viewer, and probably the film that most people think of whenever some one mentions Treasure Island.
Wallace Beery is always worth watching, and his black and white version has many strong points, but he never quite convinces me that he is the black hearted devil who is second only to Captain Flint himself in his cruelty. The Charlton Heston version has the advantage of a wonderful Chieftains soundtrack, and some richer production values than were possible in 1954, but somehow Heston never comes across as the kind of man who could weld a band of misfits, convicts, perverts, murderers and general misanthropes into a functioning pirate crew.
Robert Newton, however, is the definitive Long John Silver. I saw this flick fifty years ago, when it was first run in the theaters, and it left an indelible impression in my memory. (apparently it also impressed Richard Dreyfuss, who does an homage to Newton's Long John in 'Jaws'). The last time I viewed it was probably about ten years ago when my youngest child was still a pre-teen, and Newton's performance as the quintessential rogue who can slit your throat without a qualm while you are laughing at one of his jokes was just as impressive to me when I was 50 as when I was 10.
The story is a little long in the tooth, but the key points, such as the delivery of the black spot by Blind Pew, and the recapture of the Hispaniola, are still tense and exciting, even to a generation weaned on Stargate and Spiderman. The apple barrel scene with young Jim trying to avoid being skewered by Silver's knife made my kids scream, and what more can you ask from a kid's movie than a good, safe scare?
This is a must have movie for any serious video collection.