Avast, mates, and heed a pirate's tale. Billy Bones, bless his cursed soul, has hefted his cutlass and grog for the last time, leaving behind scarcely a doubloon. Aye, but he has left a map to a fabled, buried treasure.... The unforgettable stars of 1931's The Champ reunite for a rousing adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale. Jackie Cooper is Jim Hawkins, a lad living the kind of adventure every child dreams about. Treasure map in hand, Jim and his backers set sail for realms and riches unknown aboard the Hispaniola. But beware, me hearties: Notorious, one-legged Long John Silver (Wallace Beery) has signed on to the voyage by posing as a cook. Will the treasure fall into his scheming grasp? Will the Hispaniola soon be a-flying the dreaded skull and bones? Drop anchor and watch. A pirate's life for ye!
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For many people, this 1934 version is the definitive Treasure Island
: the great chemistry between Wallace Beery and Jackie Cooper, the rousing pirate anthems, and the stubborn parrot on the shoulder. The pairing of the actors was a cinch, coming three years after their tremendously popular teaming in The Champ
. Cooper plays Jim Hawkins, the English boy who discovers a treasure map amongst the possessions of one Billy Bones (Lionel Barrymore in a robust extended cameo), a pirate visitor to the Admiral Benbow Inn. Beery, indelibly, is the one-legged, parrot-toting seadog known as Long John Silver, who joins up on the treasure-hunting expedition by pretending to be a humble cook--though the audience knows he is a fearsome pirate captain. Victor Fleming was just the right director for this manly voyage, holding the MGM luster at bay and allowing the crew of characters actors (among them Otto Kruger, Lewis Stone, and "Chic" Sale) to find their sea legs. At times, the relationship between Jim and Silver is closer to The Champ
than to Robert Louis Stevenson's marvelous novel, but it's still true in spirit to the bond between boy and surrogate father. The story has been remade many times, notably in 1950 with Robert Newton as Silver, but this one inspires the longest memories. --Robert Horton