tek's rating: ¼

Treasure Island (PG)
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This came out in 1950, and I'm not sure whether or not I ever saw it before I watched it in 2020. (I watched it on July 19, because I happened to see on Facebook that it was the 70th anniversary of its release.) It is, of course, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 book of the same name, which I probably read when I was a kid (though I don't remember any details from it). The book has been adapted into numerous films, but I'm going to say this is probably the definitive version. (But you're free to disagree.) It's certainly more definitive than any other adaptations I've seen, like Muppet Treasure Island or Treasure Planet.

Anyway, it begins with a pirate called Black Dog coming into an inn & tavern called the Admiral Benbow, where he's served by a young boy named Jim Hawkins. The pirate is looking for someone named William Bones, but Jim says he hasn't seen such a person. The pirate leaves, but it turns out Billy Bones was in fact staying there. Soon after, another man comes into the inn, and gives Billy a paper with a "black spot" on it, meaning his former crew will soon show up to kill him, or something. Billy sends Jim into town to fetch help, but before he gets back, the pirates have shown up and ransacked the tavern looking for something, but failed to find it. Also, Billy is dead, though apparently he died of shock... or possibly too much rum. The leader of the group that came to help is Squire Trelawney, whom Jim tells what the pirates were looking for: it's a map Billy had given him, which turns out to point the way to the treasure of a pirate named Flint. So Trelawney decides to buy a ship (the Hispaniola) and assemble a crew to go looking for the treasure. He brings with him a doctor named Livesey, as well as Jim. (It's mentioned that Jim's mother will need to be convinced to let him go, but she's never seen in the movie. There are zero women in this movie, making it quite possibly the most Bechdel-failing movie I've ever seen.) Trelawney hires a captain named Smollett, but he's impatient with how long it's taking the captain to select a crew. Trelawney himself hires a cook named Long John Silver. When Jim first sees that Silver has one leg, he's nervous, because Billy Bones had warned him about a one-legged man, but it doesn't take Silver long to charm Jim into friendship. And Silver convinces Trelawney to let him get Silver's own former shipmates to join the crew of the Hispaniola, against the better judgement of Captain Smollett.

It doesn't take long for viewers to learn that Silver and his men are actually pirates who plan to mutiny at some point. One of the men, George Merry, is particularly keen to do so, and doesn't like how long Silver wants to wait. So throughout the movie, there's always a question of whether or not Silver will remain "captain" of the pirates. Meanwhile, the only other member of the Hispaniola's crew that we really get to know at all is the first mate, Mr. Arrow, whom Silver eventually gets rid of, inconspicuously. The actual mutiny doesn't happen until after they've reached the island where the treasure is buried. I don't want to say too much else, except that Jim meets a man named Ben Gunn, who had been marooned on the island five years ago, and his wits have gotten rather addled, in that time. (I remembered a similar character from "Treasure Planet," but not from "Muppet Treasure Island," though skimming my review of the latter movie now, I realize the character was gender flipped... and not so addled.) And I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, really. There's just a standoff between Smollett's crew and Silver's crew, which takes some turns before the winning side is ultimately determined.

Anyway, it was a good movie, I guess. Decent story, a bit of humor, but mostly I just found it okay. I mean, I liked it, but I didn't love it. But I'm definitely glad to have seen it. It is pretty iconic, as pirate movies go.

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