Fall is just around the corner, but TCM and Leonard Maltin are ready for one last summer hurrah when Treasures from the Disney Vault returns on September 8th. There appears to be two themes this evening, with pirates dominating the first half of the night. In the current century, Disney has had summer blockbuster success with not one, but four Pirates of the Caribbean films and a fifth is just around the corner. After the pirates theme runs its course, we switch to a touching tale about Fall and end with two films set in Hollywood, one from the mid 60's and the other from the early 80's. So avast ye mateys, we're charting a course for the city of angels!
Mickey Mouse Shorts - 8:00 PM
Two classic Mickey Mouse shorts start the evening. First up is Tugboat Mickey, a short from 1940 where Mickey, Donald and Goofy work a rescue boat service. When a serial radio program is confused for a real distress call, the trio go to great lengths to rescue a ship that isn't there.
In one of Mickey, Donald and Goofy's more iconic pairings, Boat Builders finds the three likable mates having a tough time assembling a boat. After all the trouble to assemble their vessel, their maiden voyage finds the whole thing coming apart at the seams... literally.
Recommendation: Two classic Mickey Mouse shorts in color with new restorations command your attention. You won't want to miss these!
Treasure Island – 8:30 PM
For much of the 1940’s, Walt Disney had been trying to get into live action filmmaking. World War II slowed his plans down on all fronts, including his venture into live action. While he was able to produce a handful of live action/animation hybrid films (Song of the South, So Dear to My Heart), his dreams of becoming a live action filmmaker were put on hold until entering the medium was not only possible, but necessary.
Profits made from Disney animated films in Europe during the war had been locked up and Walt’s only opportunity to use them was by spending the money in Europe. As a result, he developed four live action films that could be produced in the United Kingdom, the first of which was Treasure Island. Starring Disney’s only contract performer Bobby Driscoll, Walt’s vision of bringing Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic pirate tale to life was finally possible.
Young Jim Hawkins finds himself at the center of a high seas adventure when a dying pirate in his family’s inn gives him a treasure map. During a mission to retrieve the treasure, Jim becomes close friends with the ship’s cook. But when the cook reveals himself to be the feared pirate Long John Silver, Jim finds himself the prisoner of some of the fiercest swashbucklers ever to sail the seven seas.
Disney’s version of Treasure Island wasn’t the first or the last, but it is regarded as the best version ever put to film. Robert Newton stars as Long John Silver and is credited with inventing “pirate speak” as we know it. Think for a moment how different the Disneyland attraction "Pirates of the Caribbean" would have been without Newton’s performance in this film. Many other studios have produced a version or two, but Disney has three when you add Muppet Treasure Island and the animated feature Treasure Planet, which retells the story in a galactic setting.
Recommendation: Treasure Island is required viewing for Disney history buffs. The new HD restoration is breathtaking and at 76 years old, the film holds up incredibly well. Don't miss this classic film.
Davy Crockett and the River Pirates – 10:15 PM
Davy Crockett died at the end of his first serial run on the Disneyland anthology series and its subsequent compilation film, Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier. However, the Davy Crockett Craze was still in full swing a year later and Walt couldn’t deny the public’s request for “More Crockett.” Two more hour-long episodes were produced in 1956 and were compiled into a feature film that went to theaters.
Taking place sometime either before the first film or during it, Davy Crockett and the River Pirates is more of a prequel (or an in-between-quel) than a sequel. Set on the Ohio River in 1810, Davy and his best pal Georgie find themselves up against Mike Fink and his keelboat pirates. But the two soon find that they can both get what they want if they work together.
The first Davy Crockett film was featured on TCM’s Treasures from the Disney Vault on the lineup’s first night back in December 2014. In 1956, anyone who missed the serial or wanted to see it again would have been out of luck until this film version came to theaters. The added value of making a trip to the local theater and paying cash money to see it again would heave been the fact that it was now in color, a feature the posters made abundantly clear. If Disney Park fans recognize the name “Mike Fink,” it’s because this film inspired the extinct Mike Fink Keelboats attraction at both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom.
Recommendation: This Davy Crockett film is a little more juvenile than the first, but has more fun with the material. Tune in if you're in the mood for some old fashioned Frontierland fun.
Disneyland Around the Seasons – 11:45 PM
Speaking of Disney Parks, we transition from pirate films to a place where pirates live, Walt Disney’s magic kingdom Disneyland. This episode of The Wonderful World of Disney aired on December 18th, 1966, three days after Walt Disney passed away. While the episode was labeled as a Christmas special, the majority of its time is spent showcasing what was new at the park.
“It’s a small world” had just recently opened at Disneyland after becoming the highlight of the 1964 New York World’s Fair and its grand opening ceremony opens the show, along with a ride through narrated by Walt. “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” was another new addition to the park after the World’s Fair and Walt shows off the attraction devoted to his childhood hero.
One new addition to Disneyland in 1966 didn’t come from the fair, New Orleans Square. The parks’ 5th land had a jazzy grand opening ceremony which was filmed for this special. One last World's Fair attraction is shown, the Primeval World railroad section, which was part of "Ford's Magic Skyway." The Christmas Fantasy on Parade covers the seasonal aspect of the special and is a real treat for fans of Disney parades. The special ends with Disneyland's Candlelight Processional, a tradition that continues to this day.
Recommendation: This is my favorite part of tonight's lineup, a time capsule of what Disneyland was like in 1966. If you're a fan of the park, have your pause button ready to stop and stare at the way things used to be.
The night is still young! If you're planning to stay awake, continue to the next page to see what lies in store for you night owls, or what you should set your DVR for.