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Treasure Island DVD Review

"Treasure Island" movie poster - click to buy Treasure Island

Theatrical Release: July 19, 1950 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Byron Haskin

Cast: Bobby Driscoll (Jim Hawkins), Robert Newton (Long John Silver), Basil Sydney (Captain Smollett), Walter Fitzgerald (Squire Trelawney), Denis O'Dea (Dr. Livesey), Finlay Currie (Capt. Billy Bones), Ralph Truman (George Merry), Geoffrey Wilkinson (Ben Gunn)

While most are probably familiar
with the plot of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, I'll briefly sum it up, for those who aren't. Young Jim Hawkins has a legendary treasure map come into his possession and he sets sail with a crew on the Hispaniola to find this treasure. Things get murky when there is mutiny aboard the ship, and some crew members have their own ideas about claiming the treasure.

Disney veteran Bobby Driscoll, who appeared in the studio's live action films like Song of the South and So Dear to My Heart in addition to voicing Peter Pan, plays young Jim Hawkins. As the lone child in a cast of grown men, Driscoll does a fine job playing the protagonist. Meanwhile, Robert Newton shines in the flashy role of Long John Silver, the boat's wooden-legged chef of suspicious character.

Released in 1950, Treasure Island is one of Disney's earliest live action feature films. In fact, it's the studio's first narrative feature film to not employ animation at all. As such, it's clear that Disney and company were trying to find their live action niche, and the film differs in tone from the studio's live action output that became prevalent later in the decade.

Treasure Island does not find it necessary to include comic antics to lighten the tone or to specifically play to children. Yet, the heartfelt drama and the adventurous story is sure to entertain young and old. In addition, children who are familiar with Treasure Planet and Muppet Treasure Island may be interested to see this more faithful adaptation of Stevenson's story for comparison.

Buy Disney's Treasure Island on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio (Fullscreen)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: April 29, 2003
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
(Was $29.99, Reduced Spring 2004)
White Keepcase


In general, the film looked very good for being over 50 years old. The transfer did seem on the dark side, but the print was nearly free of flaws and possessed an unexpected sharpness. Some scenes looked absolutely excellent. It is evident that Disney did invest money in remastering the film, from this undeniably pleasing transfer.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 remix wasn't much of a surround listening experience, but it didn't particularly need to be. The audio track was effective and clear. Some of the dialogue was a bit tough to distinguish, but that's the product of an aged film and not of the DVD.


Unfortunately, Treasure Island was released completely without bonus features, in spite of an initially high SRP and a release apart from the general catalogue waves. There's not even a trailer for the movie, though one can be found on the Treasure Planet DVD, which was released day-and-date with this film.

Preview trailers at the start of the DVD are for The Lion King coming to DVD, Pirates of the Caribbean (before a subtitle was added) and Finding Nemo coming to theaters, and of course, Treasure Planet. The Sneak Peeks menu also includes trailers for Stitch! The Movie, Atlantis: Milo's Return, and George of the Jungle 2 (Watch out for that sequel!).


A Vault Disney set, or even a pared-down single-disc Special Edition would have seemed awfully fitting for Treasure Island. Although there isn't a single real bonus feature, the movie is good enough to recommend purchasing, especially at its subsequently-reduced retail price. Fortunately, the film looks and sounds new, thanks to significant remastering.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 - Special Edition) � Kidnapped (1960 - Disney Movie Club Exclusive)
The Reluctant Dragon (1941 - Walt Disney Treasures: Behind the Scenes at the Disney Studio) � Davy Crockett: Two-Movie Set (1955-56)
Treasure Planet (2002) � Muppet Treasure Island (1996 - Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition)
Johnny Tremain (1957) � The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1953 - Disney Movie Club Exclusive)
Victory Through Air Power (1943 - Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines) � PollyannaPeter Pan (1953 - Special Edition)
Old Yeller (1957 - 2-Movie Collection) � Swiss Family Robinson (1960 - Vault Disney)

Related Page: Treasure Island in Top Live Action Countdown (#21)

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Reviewed February 13, 2004.