On July 19, 1950, Walt Disney Productions released Treasure Island, the studio’s first completely live-action film. This pirate tale was based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel of the same name.
The film stars Bobby Driscoll as Jim Hawkins, a young boy who is given a treasure map belonging to buccaneer Captain Flint. Jim becomes part of a crew that sets off to follow the map to find the pirate’s lost treasure. Before they can depart, Long John Silver joins the expediton as the ship’s cook and helps hire the crew.
Jim discovers that Long John Silver and the crew, who were actually Captain Flint’s former crew, plan mutiny. Jim warns the captain, who is successfully able to stop the mutiny attempt.
A series of “piratey” events ensue, leading to the revelation that the treasure has been moved to a cave. The cave is found and Long John Silver manages to row away with one of the chests of treasure.
Treasure Island was filmed in England and released in the US on July 19 and in London on July 22. A sequel, not produced by Disney, was released in 1954 and continued the pirate adventures of Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver.
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series was certainly influenced by Treasure Island. In addition to general pirate lore:
- Barbossa naming his monkey Jack after his former captain Jack Sparrow.
- Gibbs sings part of a song from Treasure Island.
- Barbossa and Long John Silver are both feared as one-legged men.
Treasure Island has been released several times in different formats. Time to find a copy and watch this piece of Disney history!