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After the Treasure Island adventure, Long John Silver turns up on a British Caribbean island, where he hears that rival pirate Mendoza has taken the ship carrying the governor's daughter...and his young friend Jim Hawkins. Naturally, there's more to his rescue plan than meets the eye; he hopes to get a new ship and go back for more treasure... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This Australian production made four years after Walt Disney's version of Treasure Island has Robert Newton reprising his role of Long John Silver. Returning characters from Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island are Jim Hawkins and Israel Hands.
The Disney version of Treasure Island was a once in a lifetime mating of an actor so perfect for the role he was cast in. Robert Newton was a man who needed a firm directorial hand normally, but Long John Silver is one of those larger than life parts where the sky isn't even the limit when it comes to chewing scenery. Newton throws himself into this role just as he did in Treasure Island and again in Blackbeard the Pirate, he was put on this planet to play pirates.
This film finds Long John rescuing the Governor of Jamaica's daughter and then returning to Treasure Island for more treasure. Jim Hawkins, who apparently never went back to the UK, is also along for the ride. On Treasure Island Newton has to deal with another pirate captain named Mendoza and Israel Hands from his old crew.
Now all of us who know the story of Treasure Island know that Jim Hawkins killed Israel Hands in the story. But it turns out not to be the case. Seems that he only blinded him and Hands has been living on Treasure Island ever since waiting for the return of Silver and Hawkins. In this film, Hands is played by young Rod Taylor in his second film and under his full name of Rodney Taylor. As resourceful as Taylor makes Hands, there ain't no way I believe a blind man survived on an uninhabited island for years.
Another character is introduced here, a woman who runs a waterfront dive named Purity played by Connie Gilchrist. She has hopes of marrying the incorrigible reprobate Silver, but no such luck. Gilchrist and Newton's scenes are very cute and are more than faintly reminiscent of Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler.
The success of this film led to a TV series Long John Silver with both Newton and Gilchrist and young Kip Taylor as Jim Hawkins. It might have gone on longer than a season, but for Robert Newton's death from acute alcoholism. Read David Niven's memoir Bring on the Empty Horses for a fine account of a man much loved by friends and colleagues, but with a deadly weakness for the 'craiture' as the Irish refer to it.
Long John Silver is a film with a lot of weaknesses in plot and structure, but carried by the indomitable Robert Newton and the strength of his career role.
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