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In post-Civil War Kentucky, young David Burnie becomes the unexpected heir to the family secret: a map leading to buried treasure on the Florida isle of Matecumbe. The youth, joined by four fellow adventurers, begins his search for the treasure despite deadly interference by his late father's archenemy. The angry threat of a hurricane and the presence of hostile Indians set the mood for the frantic trek to the swampy site - a destination that could provide untold wealth for the searchers...or for their evil pursuers! Written by
Based on the book by Robert Lewis Taylor, the Disney production "Treasure of Matecumbe" is a mostly agreeable, lively, colorful period adventure. It may be overly intense - even objectionable - for some viewers, but it delivers entertainment in generous doses, for a somewhat over extended run time.
It begins in post Civil War Kentucky, as young boys Davie Burnie (Johnny Doran) and Thad (Billy 'Pop' Atmore) are forced to flee for their lives. You see, Davies' late father had buried some treasure on the Florida isle of Matecumbe, and a nasty villain named Spangler (Vic Morrow) also wants this booty. Spangler wants the map that has come into Davies' possession, and he and his goons pursue the kids every step of the way. Fortunately, some adults come to the kids' aid: quack medicine man Dr. Snodgrass (Peter Ustinov), runaway bride Lauriette Paxton (Joan Hackett), and Davies' own uncle Jim (Robert Foxworth).
Scripted by Don Tait, and directed with gusto by Vincent McEveety, "Treasure of Matecumbe" isn't harmless, but it does manage to be quite amusing and even exciting, especially during a climactic hurricane sequence. The production values and attempts to recreate a period feel are respectable, and fortunately the story does have a sense of humor at times. The pacing isn't always perfect, as there is some filler. The flatboat sequence is a case in point. Still, it does feature some irresistible music.
The cast is wonderful, all the way down the line. Ustinov in particular gets to be an eccentric scene stealer. The boys are appealing, and the villainy by Morrow is formidable. You'll notice a bunch of familiar faces in roles big and small: Jane Wyatt, Virginia Vincent, Robert DoQui, Don Knight, Mills Watson, Dub Taylor, Valentin de Vargas, Dick Van Patten, George Lindsey, Logan Ramsey, John Steadman, Brion James.
Good fun for people who enjoy a good treasure hunt movie.
Seven out of 10.
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