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LONG JOHN SILVER 1954 1968 K GORDON MURRAY KIDDIE MATINEE DVD-R!

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Notorious pirate Long John Silver and his boy-pal Jim Hawkins return to Treasure Island to fight evil pirate El Toro. This follow-up to the family adventure hit TREASURE ISLAND tries to capture the same flavor as Disney’s smash hit, utilizing the same pirate, director, sets and much of the supporting cast, making this a direct sequel of sorts, but creates instead a dark and seedy, somewhat perverse period universe of sudden death and constant danger, demented rather than lusty, desperate rather than daring.

Newton’s pirate Silver, while charming to a fault, is a cultural cliche by now, with parodies abounding everywhere, and is hard to take seriously. Arrgh! He is surrounded by assorted grotesque types, including sailors and shipmates who by their filth, degeneracy and obvious mental problems, come across as sort of scary.

The villain, El Toro, is overtly Spanish, and his character is naively racist. The “Olde English” dialog, along with the heavy accents renders Silver’s (and others) speech almost indecipherable at times. As when reading an old book, you have to take time to get used to the language, and its doubtful whether contemporary tots would bother.

On the other hand, we have campy exploitation elements such as long-suffering cabin boy Jim Hawkins, and little rich girls in bondage. There’s also a wild, Dionysian pirate orgy, replete with scantily-clad, drunken whores! The long-awaited trip to T-Island is perfunctory and short, although there’s a great bit where Jim Hawkins sees flying spirits.

Overall, this is a fun old flick, released theatrically at least thrice. The original 1955 title is LONG JOHN SILVER. The second time it was released in the U.S., in 1957, by Orrin Films, it went out with a short, beautiful 1944 German cartoon called THE SNOWMAN (not to be confused with the classic Raymond Briggs film of 1982, but outstanding just the same). The title of the 1968 Childhood Production re-release was LONG JOHN SILVER RETURNS TO TREASURE ISLAND.

Falling eventually into the pubic domain, LONG JOHN SILVER was one of the first child-oriented sell-through hits on home budget-video, and also saw many screenings on pre-cable TV as RETURN TO TREASURE ISLAND. This title is all over the place, on VHS and DVD; many versions are struck from crisp 16mm prints. The colors, while punched up by video enhancement, are still sort of washed out, capturing a nice, retro, Sunday-at-the movies feel.

“Sometimes, thems what quotes the bible has less bible in their hearts than them what donts!”

 

 

VHS transfer, color fullscreen 83 minutes. DVD-R comes packaged as shsown in color DVD case, wrpped in plastic!

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