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Disney was able to bolster interest in this Kevin Corcoran vehicle by using Henry Calvin and Gene Sheldon in co-starring roles. They were both the co-stars of Disney's hit television series Zorro (1957) which was then off the air due to legal disputes between Disney and the American Broadcasting Company. See more »
Wires are clearly visible, attached to Toby as he does bareback riding stunts. See more »
Walt Disney who certainly liked to make films that take place in earlier simpler times like when he was young has Toby Tyler set during the era before World War I at the turn of the last century. Kevin Corcoran plays young Tyler who is an orphan and foster child of his uncle and aunt Tom Fadden and Edith Evanson. When the circus comes to town he neglects chores and when they tell him he's 'millstone around their necks' young Corcoran runs away.
The rest of the film tells of Toby's adventures with the circus where he first works for concessionaire Bob Sweeney who has a really nice role as a not so lovable carny who takes really bad advantage of Toby. Fortunately he does not stay under Sweeney's tutelage and makes some real friends in circus strongman Henry Calvin and clown Gene Sheldon.
Calvin and Sheldon were from the Disney TV show Zorro and Sheldon played Guy Williams's dumb valet Bernardo. Sheldon was a great pantomime comedian and rarely spoke in his performances on stage, film, or in Zorro. He's great here, but it was nice to hear him. Broke a bit of the illusion, almost like having Harpo Marx talk.
And Toby also meets young equestrian performers Dennis Oliveri and Barbara Beird. Beird likes him, but Oliveri is rather full of himself, really odd for someone so young. Toby gets his chance as a performer and to escape Sweeney when Oliveri gets injured showing off.
As this is a Disney film naturally it all works out in the end for everyone but Sweeney. And when you see the film I think you'll agree with me that he got off very lightly indeed.
Toby Tyler holds up very well after over 50 years, still a nice children's classic.
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