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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."
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
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.
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
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Mark Twain's timeless classic effortlessly resists the Readers Digest's attempt to transform his homespun tale of youthful hi-jinks into a musical, thanks largely to a collection of completely unmemorable tunes. A miscast Johnny Whitaker pretty much signs off his movie career at the grand old age of thirteen with an unconvincing performance due mainly to the fact that he plays the part too broadly. Jodie Foster, meanwhile, is perfectly cast as little Becky Thatcher. There's some nice location photography, but everything looks just a little too clean and tidy - even Warren Oates drunken Muff Potter fails to make things look messy.
Having grown up in Missouri only an hour from Hannibal,it is gratifying
to see the authentic locations that really capture the setting, and
terrific portrayals from a great cast really create the spirit of
I first saw this film when my grandparents took me to it long ago but I still can relive the joy of my childhood and "freebootin". I always imagined myself as a sort of Tom Sawyer from watching this(I secretly wanted to be him).....the film still deeply effects me......The cave sequence was actually filmed in Merramac Caverns cave, and I also believe Onondaga Cave in Missouri...it might be worth your time to visit them if you are visiting the state of Missouri....
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