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Tom Sawyer
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Reviews & Ratings for
Tom Sawyer More at IMDbPro »

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Mark Twain would have liked this one.

Author: dsayne from Kentucky, USA
20 January 2001

This film captures the essence of Tom Sawyer. The wonder and freedom of childhood, and the struggles of growing up. Johnny Whitaker gives the best performance of his career, portraying Tom as mischievous and clever, yet lovable and innocent. This is not the Tom so often portrayed in films, who is a conniving brat. This is the Tom of the book who gets in trouble because he is curious and adventurous, whose mind wanders in church and school, and who stretches the truth or even fibs without malicious intent.

The rest of the cast is excellent, The production appears to be on location and is very authentic, and the music is well done. This is a true musical in that the lyrics serve to move the story along. If you like musicals, this is for you. If you don't, then concentrate on the lyrics and what they are telling you about the central character.

The book is timeless because of it's universal theme, the glory days of childhood. The Movie captures that. It will bring a tear to your eye as you hear the theme song "...a boy is gonna grow to be a man, be a man. Only once in his life is he free. Only one golden time in his life is he free."

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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

DVD This movie now !

26 February 2003

I love this version of the Tom Sawyer Story. I watched this movie as a kid and will still watch it today. Jodie Foster is really cute as Becky Thatcher. This movie was made and financed by Reader Digest but as I have seen it is now under ownership by MGM/UA Home Video and only available on the slowly decaying VHS format. Hey, MGM, get this movie digitally upgraded to DVD with all the bells and whistles digitally upgraded beyond what they originally were. DVD is the soon to be only video format and this movie needs to be on it. I also would like to see the musical sequel about Huck Finn done the same way.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Remembrances of the filming of Tom Sawyer

Author: k_scherer from United States
3 July 2007

I have not seen this version of Tom Sawyer for quite a few years, but I did see it as a child on the "Big Screen". The fun part for me about this movie is that I grew up just a few miles from where most of it was filmed -- a small river town in Mid-Missouri called Arrow Rock. It's not the type of area where a person gets to see a lot of movies being filmed, so you can imagine that this was quite an event for a small rural area at the time.

I was 12 at the time, same age as Johnny Whitaker when he played Tom, and I remember going to watch the filming of several scenes -- especially the "picnic scene". It was also interesting to see what was done to the town to prepare for the making of the film. The main street, which is paved asphalt, was covered with several inches of dirt. The concrete sidewalks were converted to boardwalk sidewalks, which still exist today! It was fun to watch the film in the theater, because many of the extras in the film were local townspeople, neighbors, and friends. You watched to pick out the scenes where you would recognize people you know.

There is a special celebration in Arrow Rock this year for the July 4th festivities, celebrating the 35 years since the filming of Tom Sawyer (1972). Johnny Whitaker and Jeff East are returning to Arrow Rock to participate in the festivities... and I will be returning to partake also! If you're ever driving across Missouri on I-70, I invite you to take a slight detour on Hiway 41 North (just about 130 miles west of St. Louis) and visit the little historic town of Arrow Rock.... where for two months in 1972, Hollywood came to visit!

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Great film

Author: jpycior-1 from Virginia Beach, VA
22 December 2006

I really enjoyed this movie and the music that was in it. Lots of good fun and adventure! I do believe Mr.Mark Twain would approve! This movie hits all the right notes and what an adventure! One can clearly see how the two lead actors make choices for their characters and the results are very good. I enjoyed the journey and the adventure the two went on, and I felt the movie was a very good adaptation of the novel. I can remember reading the book and not wanting to put it down, and was living in SC at the time the movie came out. We lived along a river as it was and as a 10 year old, I could somewhat relate to the main characters in the way of wanting to go on such an adventure. This movie was very good from start to finish, and I can distinctly recall to me, the scariest part..when they were all in the caves.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A gem from it's time!

Author: callie-5 from Louisiana
6 February 2007

I saw this one in the theater when it was released and still love it! This is the perfect example of a "Classic Family Movie". The harshest word you hear is "damn". The performances are wonderful to watch from the entire cast (Jodie Foster may be the weakest of them all, but just my opinion), the music fits beautifully (thanks to the Sherman brothers) and the settings make me feel the era. An enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And to the reviewer who commented on Celeste Holm's "attempt" to sing - check her resume, my friend. Everyone who knows her work (see "High Society" or the 1965 version of "Cinderella", or just listen to the Original Broadway Cast recording of "Oklahoma!") knows she CAN!

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Cute little musical with a wonderful cast

Author: AshDCags from New Jersey
6 September 2002

This was a show well worth seeing. Johnnie Whitaker gives a sweet and charming performance and the legendary Celeste Holm is wonderful as always, portraying the exasperated yet loving Aunt Polly. From the wonderful songs, that, unlike most musicals, help to move the story along, to the realistic setting(it was filmed on location), to the excellent and talented cast, this movie is a charming little glimpse into the life of one one America's greatest characters and the insight into the talented author that created him.

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Hurrah for the DVD! What a way to relive this film!

Author: m_ruch-1 from United States
11 August 2005

Adrian Everett's dreams have been answered!! MGM/UA has released this title and Huck Finn (in which child actor Jeff East reprises his role as the title character) on DVD. My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that MGM opted not to release the film on DVD in the widescreen format. The title and end credit sequences are in widescreen, while the remainder of the film is "modified to fit your screen". Much as I prefer widescreen films presented in their original aspect ratio, Tom Sawyer does not lose anything by being "panned and scanned". If anything, the full screen presentation enhances the performances of the child actors, allowing them to fill the screen with their winning personalities. Johnny Whitaker as Tom, and Jeff East as his rag-tag friend Huck, really light up the screen in every scene they are in, but it is Jodie Foster, as Becky Thatcher, who steals Tom's and the audience's hearts.

Most of the musical score is forgettable, but overall, the Sherman brothers have once again done an admirable job. Several of the songs, such as "Free-bootin" and "Gratifaction" will stick in your head. But it is, "River Song", as performed by Charlie Pride, that will bring a tear to your eye as you think about lost childhood. "...a boy is gonna grow to be a man, be a man. Only once in his life is he free. Only one golden time in his life is he free."

I highly recommend this film, and this DVD to anyone who is a Tom Sawyer fan. All of the storytelling elements of the earlier David O'Selznick production are here, and with the exception of the music, the two films are very similar. While it is the child actors that really sell this film, I cannot overlook the memorable performance of Kunu Hank (apparently in his only film role) as Injun Joe.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Relive the Olden Days of Freedom with Tom and Huck

Author: JLRMovieReviews from United States
4 September 2014

Young Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn enjoy the free days of youth in this 1973 film adaptation of the classic Mark Twain story "Tom Sawyer." With their stories and lives of the two boys blending in together so much, it's hard to tell where one starts and the other leaves off. They both live in the same slow easy days, which are also fresh with rascally trouble and bristling with uncouth characters. Tom Sawyer lives with an Aunt played by Celeste Holm and her two children. The boy does not like him and continually sets up booby traps for Tom when he sneaks in his room late for supper, but the daughter thinks the world of him. On one of their many hikes, Tom and Huck witness a scuffle that leads to murder. And Tom has a love interest in the form of a new girl, played by Jodie Foster. But all this takes a back seat to the adventurous and easy-going spirits of the boys and the wonderful music score and songs by the Sherman brothers. The performances by Johnnie Whitaker as Tom and Jeff East as Huck are very natural (Jeff East was particularly memorable) and a lot of recognizable faces make up the colorful supporting cast. A true highlight of the film is Charley Pride's song about being young and free, sung at the beginning and end of the film. I looked into buying the cd. But it was way too expensive, being a very rare find. If you love musicals and the imagination of Mark Twain, then you need to find this right away and while away the hours doing something close to nothing but getting in trouble anyway.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The original boys of summer

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
18 January 2014

Johnny Whitaker late of A Family Affair and Jeff East star as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn in a musical adaption of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer. I think Twain might have liked this one.

This is one story that when filmed is rarely deviated from. I guess it's too well known and lovers of Mark Twain wouldn't stand for it.

Whitaker and East play the mischievous adolescents from Hannibal, Missouri who are just contributing to everyone's delinquency. Huckleberry Finn seems incorrigible since all he wants to do is fish and swim. And Celeste Holm playing Tom Sawyer's Aunt Polly who is raising Tom with two of her own kids and the widow is just mighty put out by them.

Among the grownup population is Warren Oates who is a perfect fit for Muff Potter, Tom and Huck's best friend and whose raffish ways they admire. Truth be told Oates is a lowdown character who earns an extra drinking dollar or three as a graverobber for Dr. Richard Eastham.

When Eastham is stabbed to death on one of those grave robbing expeditions Oates is arrested and that sets in motion the main plot of Twain's story.

The Shermans wrote a serviceable score for Tom Sawyer. Of course it's nothing like the score they wrote for Mary Poppins. They were nominated for the overall musical score though no individual songs were recognized. Tom Sawyer also got Oscar nominations for Costume Design and Film Editing.

The story has been good family reading and viewing for more than a century and this film is no exception.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer adapted into a nice musical version

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
6 October 2013

Adaptation-wise, the best version is the 1938 film(though it occasionally suffers from being too faithful). This 1973 musical version is not one to dismiss either, in regard to the adapting the main events are intact and with the right impact. Though it could've stuck to Mark Twain's prose a little more, the script is fine and witty in quality but the simplifying of the philosophising of Twain's writing makes Tom not quite as interesting or in depth as he is in the book. But it is a nice and really quite good film on its own. It does get off to a slow start and feels for the first 15 minutes or so a little aimless, and while the songs are very pleasant only Freebootin', Gratifaction and River Song stood out properly. The rest aren't bad at all but somewhat too short and incidental. John Williams does arrange and conduct them beautifully though so further credit is due. The film looks absolutely beautiful though, the costumes and sets are great and the photography evocative, at its best it is absolutely splendid. The story has a real innocence and charm and is paced generally very well, the standouts being the charming picnic scene, the riverboat encounter, the intense confrontation in the caves, Tom and Huck's "funeral" and Injun Joe's spectacular leap from the courtroom. The choreography/staging of the musical numbers are appropriately lively too especially in Gratifaction. Johnny Whitaker is very well-cast as Tom, and Jeff East and particularly Jodie Foster match him in spirited and charming performances. In support, Celeste Holm impresses as Aunt Polly being overbearing yet loving- exactly the right approach for the character, Warren Oates seems to be really enjoying himself as Muff Potter and Kuna Hank is one creepy Injun Joe. Overall, a nice if not exceptional musical version of a classic. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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