Story books tell they wuz all cut low,
Truth of it is, it jest ain't so.
Their spirits'll live
an' their legends grow
as long as we remember
Davy, Davy Crockett,
fightin' fer lib-er-ty!
This compilation brings together the two feature films edited from the two Crockett series runs from the mid-1950s, the original 3-part mini-series ("Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter","Davy Crockett Goes to Congress", and "Davy Crockett At the Alamo") and the 2-part second series ("Davy Crockett's Keelboat Race" and "Davy Crockett & the River Pirates"). It is a great transfer of all the materials and something to kick back and utterly enjoy, both as nostalgia and as good cinematic storytelling.
While some of the historicity here is arguable ( there was, for instance, no Creek war chief named "Red Stick"...the "Red Sticks" were a warrior clan WITHIN the Creek nation...and led by a WHITE man) , the depiction of Crockett's character and personality as interpreted by Fess Parker, seem just about dead-on . And the verve and spirit of the thing, enlivened by Tom Blackburn's jaunty balladry, is just a feast for the soul. And what more is there to say about the performances of Buddy Ebsen as George Russell and Jeff York as the irrepressable Mike Fink except "Bravo" (and let's not overlook Kenneth Tobey, who played
Jim Bowie in the "Alamo" episode, only to turn around just a year later to appear as Mike Fink's "Gullywhumper" first mate, "Jocko").
An earlier reviewer "Richard Ceourdelion" (I hope Robin Hood got him safely returned to his throne) complained about not liking these compilations as much as the "real t.v. show". Like another reviewer, I would ask "Why don't you have both?". The complete t.v. series...with hosted commentary by Leonard Maltin and with all the Walt Disney introductions, commercials, credits, etc., intact, has been out for several years now as part of the "Disney Treasures" Collection (comes packaged in an aluminum 'tin' that replicates a film cannister). I have one and watch it often. This is the only place you can hear the COMPLETE "Ballad of Davy Crockett", as well as see all the wonderful line drawings that used to frame each episode. And you will also discover something you never before realized...that the episodes you saw as a child of the fifties on a black & white t.v. were juxtapositions of SOME scenes shot in technicolor and SOME scenes done in black and white. Strikes you odd now when you see it today...this switching back and forth...but it worked fine on b & w television "way back then".
Of course for the theatrical release compilations---what you see in the versions specifically under review HERE---all the black & white shots have been dropped and only the Technicolor footage retained.
The "movie" versions reviewed here are just fine for all of us who just want to see it through. You get the "meat" of the thing without all the extras. But if you want to see the entire
series AS IT WAS BROADCAST, track down the Disney Treasures edition.
Now, if only they will bring out "The Story of Robin Hood & His Merrie Men" (Richard Todd, Peter Finch), the SECOND best Robin Hood film after Errol Flynn's, THIS boomer will be a happy camper indeed (since "Darby O'Gill" IS out now, with "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" (Patrick McGoohan), reputedly in DVD preparation).
Happy days !