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Toon Talk: Walt Disney Treasures: Davy Crockett
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Walt Disney Treasures
The Greatest American Hero
The fourth, and final, edition of the first phase of Walt Disney Treasures stars Davy Crockett, one of the most popular characters to ever be introduced on the Disneyland television series. The overwhelming, and unexpected, success of this series spawned a nationwide craze for all things Davy, from coonskin caps to the best-selling theme song. All five episodes are collected together, in their original form for the first time, on this 2-disc set, a nostalgic and patriotic blast from the past.
There is a brief overview to the entire collection by Leonard Maltin, who also returns to present, in greater detail, each individual episode.
The episodes are presented in full, including the original Disneyland opening credits and Walt's personal introductions. Most of these are in black and white, but the episodes themselves are presented almost entirely in color. I say almost, as there are some scenes that slip into a sepia-tone. No doubt the original color negative was lost, and the black and white footage had to be used.
Each episode also has individual chapters, apparently at each original commercial break.
All five episodes were directed by Norman Foster, produced by Bill Walsh, with scripts by Tom Blackburn and music by George Bruns.
Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter
Original airdate December 15, 1954.
The "one that started it all": we meet our hero and his trusty sidekick George Russell, played by Disney Legends Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen, as they set out to help the army during the Creek Indian War.
All the elements that made this series such a favorite are in place: the action, the humor, the messages of loyalty and honor, and the beautiful scenery of the American frontier (this series was one of the first on television to shoot on location, mostly in Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky).
As can be surmised by the title, Davy spends a lot of time fighting the Indians in this one, but by the second installment they have learned to live together peacefully.
Co-stars include Helene Stanley as Davy's wife Polly, William Bakewell as the straight-laced Major Norton and Basil Ruysdael as future president Andrew Jackson. They all return for episode two.
Davy Crockett Goes to Congress
January 16, 1955.
Or "I Get Into Politics", as Davy writes in his journal. After relocating to a new settlement and the unexpected death of his wife, Davy finds his way into local politics and eventually to a seat in Congress. But even in Washington he finds snakes in the grass, as one would expect.
Considering it's mostly citified setting, this is surprisingly the best realized of the episodes. The "fish-out-of-water" aspect provides a more deeper characterization for Davy. Parker is very effective in his stoic reaction to the news of Polly's death and his show-stopping filibuster in the climatic finale.
Former wrestler Mike Mazurki appears as the claim-jumping Bigfoot Mason, and we get a chance to see Ebsen perform some of his classic footwork.
Davy Crockett At the Alamo
February 23, 1955.
Davy and Russell head West to Texas and right into the middle of the battle at the Alamo. Surrounded by General Santa Ana's troops, the Texan settlers are trapped with little supplies and no hopes of reinforcements. There were no survivors.
Walt and his staff had no idea how popular the Davy Crockett series would be and here, three months after it began, their hero was dead. But that was how history told the story, and here it is handled reverently. One can't help but be aware of the outcome, but we still root for our heroes all the same.
Hans Conried guest stars as a dandy con artist named Thimblerig who tags along, mostly for comic relief. Kenneth Tobey appears as the legendary Jim Bowie.
These three episodes were edited together and released theatrically, in color, as Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier, premiere date May 25, 1955.