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Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (Walt Disney Treasures)

191 customer reviews

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(Nov 11, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

"On the southern coast of England/There’s a legend people tell/Of days long ago when the great Scarecrow/Would ride from the jaws of hell/And laugh with a fiendish yell." Okay, it may not be as catchy as "The Ballad of Davy Crockett," but anyone who was glued to their TV sets in 1964 to watch the continuing adventures and heroic exploits of Dr. Syn on the Disney anthology series, The Wonderful World of Color, should feel a shiver of excitement that goes beyond mere nostalgia at hearing this theme song again. Old-fashioned to be sure, but The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh is still a ripping yarn and rousing family entertainment with its unforgettable hero, despicable villain, galloping chases and breathless escapes. Grandly produced in England, this three-part miniseries is "a story of high adventure and heart," as Walt Disney states in his folksy and avuncular episode introductions. Patrick McGoohan (known at the time for his iconic role as John Drake on Danger Man) stars as Dr. Syn, who leads a double life as a mild-mannered village vicar by day, and a fearsome avenger known as the Scarecrow by night. The haunting burlap-masked Scarecrow is a folk hero to the villagers, who are overtaxed by King George III, and brutalized by his press-gangs, who violently shanghai men into Navy service. Only two know the Scarecrow’s true identity, his sexton Mipps (George Cole), and the local Justice of the Peace’s son, John (Sean Scully, from Disney’s The Prince and the Pauper). There is a love story between John’s older sister and conflicted and compassionate English soldier Lt. Brackenbury (Eric Flynn), but it doesn’t slow things down or get too yucky. Over the course of three near-hour-long episodes, the Scarecrow foils attempts by his nemesis, General Pugh (Geoffrey Keen) to capture him, or intimidate villagers into giving him up. Leonard Maltin does his usual sterling job as enthusiastic host, who introduces the series, reflects on its place in the Disney canon, and credits the restoration efforts that made this pristine presentation possible. This two-disc set presents the miniseries as it originally aired, and also includes the widescreen feature film version that was released overseas. Disc one contains an interesting featurette about Dr. Syn’s historical and literary origins. Disc two features a segment about the British films that launched Disney’s live-action feature film career. This welcome addition to the Walt Disney Treasures line does full justice to one of Disney’s most wanted titles. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Patrick McGoohan, George Cole, Kay Cole, Alan Dobie, Eric Flynn
  • Format: Color, Limited Edition, Restored, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
  • Run Time: 287 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,805 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (Walt Disney Treasures)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Greg Ehrbar VINE VOICE on November 14, 2008
Format: DVD
Of the three newest Walt Disney Treasures DVD packages, this is perhaps the lesser known, but it is by no means the least important. It's what used to be known as "rip-roaring" great adventure, produced on a rich, grand scale unheard-of during the period in which it first appeared.

"Dr. Syn," which was based on British novels and legends explained on a fascinating documentary also included on disc one, is a Robin Hood or Zorro of sorts. But the difference is that Dr. Syn is a highly respected minister who completely fools the pompous bad guys. Yet, in this three-part series, the villains are fleshed out and not caricatured. The dignity and seriousness of the drama holds up beautifully today without the slightest sense of cliché.

In this 2-disc set, you get all three WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR hours with introductions by Walt himself, plus the edited feature-length version released theatrically in Europe in the 60's and then in the U.S. in the 1970's. But the aspect ratio of the original print has been restored for this release so you'll even see the television versions in more depth than before, with gorgeous restored prints and sound that especially brings out the lush musical score (I wish it was on a separate track!)

And speaking of music, you'll get to see who sings the haunting "Scarecrow" theme--Terry Gilkyson, who also wrote "The Bare Necessities," along with George Patterson and The Wellingtons. The only detail left out is that The Wellingtons are best known for singing the Gilligan's Island theme in its first season (there's more about them in "Mouse Tracks").
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By J. Gambold on September 6, 2008
Format: DVD
OK, so I'm a Limey from across the water. That said, I went wild when I saw that this is, at last, being released in a restored version. This movie 'changed my life' since it was the first film I ever saw at a cinema as the 'B' film with 'The Sword and the Stone' and frightened me so much (Pat MacGoohan's make-up and voice) that it was instilled in a six year old's memory as his first 'horror' movie! I have try to find this for about twenty years, reading that Disney were to release it and then not. I even bought a rather poor quality video of the movie which, at least gave me a taste of what I had seen so many years ago, but wished that the problems that seemed to stop it being released on DVD could be eradicated.
Now, it finally gets its release and I can't wait!
Does anyone know if there any extras on it? A Leonard Maltin introduction and history of the TV series/Movie would be great.
Joth (Scarecrow) Gambold UK
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By S. O. Baldrick on January 30, 2012
Format: DVD
Dr. Syn is a great little movie, a minor Disney classic. And they certainly delivered an excellent presentation in wide screen. Too bad the Disney marketing department had to be bastards and create a limited release of 39,000. They sold out in no time back in 2008. Most normal companies would have realized they had an in-demand product and would have promptly re-released it. But not Disney. No, they're too good for that! What did they do? They sat back, apparently amused to watch consumers forced to pay ever more outrageous prices for scarce copies of this DVD. Absolutely appalling. They should be ashamed. Gee, do you think they'll grace us with a limited blu-ray release or are we not worthy? I say everyone here should write Disney and tell them exactly what we think of their marketing practices.
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62 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Geiss on August 6, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This Disney classic was based on the novel "Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh" written by Russell Thorndike and premiered on the TV Show World of Disney in 1963. This three part series was later edited as a movie and released theatrically six years later. Both the original three part series as well as the theatrical movie are included here.

Essentially an updated Robin Hood style tale set in the 1700s it's a great family movie. While it is a bit dated now compared to other swashbuckling summer blockbusters (after all, it was made for TV originally) it offers a simple moral story and excellent acting, especially by Patrick McGoohan, who plays the title role.

I loved this show as a kid, and it's well worth revisiting, young and old.
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125 of 147 people found the following review helpful By YLD on December 13, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Well, we can all stop cheering, and anyone who didn't get "Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" in the nearly full month it sat on shelves will just have to go back to wringing their hands. Disney in their infinite and spasmodic commercial wisdom has pulled the plug on this highly anticipated and much discussed release. Now making it officially "out-of-print."
This is a laboriously baffling turn. I saw Dr. Syn advertised upon release and thought excitedly that I had my mother's Christmas all sewn up. But, like an idiot, I assumed a big ticket holiday release would at least last for the holiday shopping season before receding into that miserly Disney oblivion where so many of our favorites have languished over the years. As a result of my waiting nearly a month I had to shell out twice the msrp to make sure my mom gets a copy, and some are going on ebay for twice that!
So thanks Disney for the impressive Christmas tease. Oh, and while I'm at it, Thanks for Beverly Hills deranged psychos.
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Dr. Syn still available from many reliable sellers on Amazon
If you did miss out on Disney's poorly limited release of the Scarecrow (big deal--in a tin), you can get it again--however, you will have to fork out about $500 and in addition to this DVD you will get 52 others that were released under the "Treasures" DVD releases. In a tin. Oh... Read More
Nov 16, 2009 by LJ Minor |  See all 2 posts
$200 to $10,000????
Somebody wants to make a nice little profit...... oh, excuse me. They figure if you want it, you gotta pay for it - has nothing to do with its scarce production numbers. It's not an antique.
I would want it because it was from a time in my childhood when my memories were great.
Not for its resale... Read More
Jul 1, 2012 by Frederick Zirin |  See all 2 posts
RIP Patrick McGoohan
Hear, hear.

Don't forget Mary's dad in The Three Lives of Thomasina (book and characters created by Paul Gallico, movie created by Disney, charactors played by memorable actors including Patrick McGoohan, Susan Hampshire, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber and Elspeth March [the voice of Thomasina... Read More
Mar 16, 2009 by Kit |  See all 5 posts
why was Dr.Syn discontinued by the manufacturer?
The print run on this set was very limited - under 40,000 - and my guess is that Amazon simply has no more, with no more available from Disney. You might try another online retailer, or try in your brick-and-mortar stores, but I wouldn't wait too long.
Nov 30, 2008 by Jr. |  See all 39 posts
If Amazon is out of stock on Dr. Syn, try Barnes and Noble
got my dvd today from best buy. a few other places it was backordered.
a snowy weekend with this disney classic !
Jan 9, 2009 by keith lauver |  See all 2 posts
Dr. Syn rip-off Be the first to reply
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