4 October 2011 | bkoganbing
"It's A Tall Oak Tree And A Strong Oak Tree, and we are the sons and we are the sons, The Sons Of Liberty"
Johnny Tremain took a reverse process in attaining success as one of the best films about the American Revolution. It was a two part program on Walt Disney's television show and then later it was stitched together for theatrical release, so popular did it prove. Just like Disney's Davy Crockett. You can plainly see the seams, but that really doesn't matter.
The fictional character of Johnny Tremain who is an apprentice silversmith and his struggle to establish his birthright to the satisfaction of his loyalist uncle Sebastian Cabot is set against the background of Boston in the 1770s. As we well know the seeds of the American Revolution were planted there, it was a hotbed of latent treason to the British crown.
As Johnny Tremain started as a juvenile novel the issues of the American Revolution are quite simply laid out so that even the lay historian can follow the issues and the events of the Boston Tea Party and later the Battles of Lexington and Concord pretty much as they actually occurred.
And the personalities of the Sons Of Liberty come wonderfully alive in this film. Walter Sande as Paul Revere, Walter Coy as Dr. Joseph Warren, Rusty Lane as Samuel Adams step right out from the textbooks. But in the few scenes he has Jeff York as James Otis steals the movie.
There was a touch of genius in the casting of York and who would have suspected it because York normally played rough hewn frontier type characters. It was totally against type that York was cast as the Back Bay Patriot with both genius and madness in his running in his veins. Otis and Johnny Tremain define the real issues of what became the American Revolution in the best acted scene in the film.
Hal Stalmaster was a fine and earnest Johnny Tremain and was 'introduced' in this film. Why his career went nowhere after that is still a mystery. Luana Patten plays the daughter of Will Wright and Virginia Christine the silversmiths that Stalmaster is apprenticed to and Richard Beymer plays Stalmaster's original tutor in radical Sons Of Liberty politics.
If grade school teachers are not using Johnny Tremain as a teaching tool when the kids are learning the American Revolution, shame on them.